Home | News | Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – December 11th, 2023

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – December 11th, 2023

By Hank Blaine

The Columbus Blue Jackets are having another disappointing season and it may not get better soon because one of the team’s top forwards, Boone Jenner, is expected to be out six weeks because of a fractured jaw suffered Saturday against St. Louis. Jenner, the Blue Jackets’ captain, is second on the team in points (18) behind defenseman Zach Werenski (20), and first with 13 goals. Here are two intriguing early-week NHL matchups and picks.

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (December 11th, 2023)

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New York Islanders

  • When: Monday, December 11th, 2023, 7:00 PM ET
  • Where: UBS Arena, Elmont, NY
  • Radio: TSN 1050 AM (Maple Leafs) // 88.7FM WRHU FM (Islanders)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: Maple Leafs (-128) // Islanders (+105)

The Maple Leafs will be without No. 1 goaltender Joseph Woll for a while as he’s week-to-week with a high ankle sprain. The 25-year-old exited last Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators and didn’t return. He went to grab a fairly routine save with his glove, stopping a shot from Senators forward Drake Batherson, but collapsed awkwardly on his lower body as he did. Woll immediately hit the ice in pain and was helped to the locker room roughly halfway through the third period.

Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said that Woll “missed his post” on the play where he was injured, leading to the high ankle sprain. “I have no doubt in my mind he’ll handle this extremely well,” the coach added.

Woll is 8-5-1 with a .916 save percentage in 15 games this season. The 2016 third-round pick for the Maple Leafs has been a revelation for a Toronto squad that’s struggled to find a legitimate No. 1 goaltender. Woll’s injury now means the original starter on the season, Ilya Samsonov, will regain control of the net. He’s had an up-and-down season and has been open with his mental struggles earlier in the season.

So far so good as Samsonov started Saturday vs. Nashville and led a 4-0 shutout. It was his first time in net since Nov. 24 because of an illness. Heading into Saturday, Samsonov had a 4-1-3 record, 3.58 GAA and .878 save percentage, so he’s far from being in the clear. John Tavares picked up an assist Saturday and is on a three-game points streak, but is goalless in his last eight contests. Tavares has 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists) in 24 games this year and is now just two points away from hitting the 1,000-point plateau in his career. The ex-Islander will face his former team Monday on Long Island, which would be a fitting place for him to become the 98th player in NHL history to earn the milestone.

New York enters off a 3-2 OT win over the Kings on Saturday, ending LA’s NHL-record 11-game winning streak to open a season. Ilya Sorokin made 34 saves but still has a disappointing 7-4-6 record this season with a 3.12 GAA and a .913 save percentage. Anders Lee had the two regulation goals. In the process, the Isles extended their point streak to five games (4-0-1) and have earned points in 11 of their last 12 games (7-1-4).

“We know what we’re capable of and I think that was an example of that tonight,” Lee said after the upset victory. “It’s one of those things where you just have to continue to push through and get a bounce here or there every once in a while. We earned that win.”

Monday is the first of three regular-season meetings between the clubs. The Islanders won two of three last season.

NHL Betting Pick: Islanders

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers

  • When: Tuesday, December 12th, 2023, 10:00 PM ET
  • Where: Rogers Placer, Edmonton, Canada
  • Radio: 1460 AM (Blackhawks) // 630 CHED AM (Oilers)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: TBA

This absolutely matters more than most regular-season games because it’s the first time that Blackhawks rookie sensation and No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard faces off against a guy he often has been compared to in three-time Hart Trophy winner and former No. 1 overall pick Connor McDavid of the Oilers.

McDavid was limited to 45 games as a rookie in 2015-16 because of injury, tallying 48 points. He finished third in the Calder Trophy voting behind the Blackhawks’ Artemi Panarin and Shayne Gostisbehere of the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s made up for that initial lack of hardware since then: three Hart trophies as league MVP; four NHLPA most outstanding player awards; and five scoring titles in seven seasons.

“Connor has given me lots of good advice,” Bedard said of McDavid. “There are some things he’s said about what to expect. It’s obviously not easy. It’s the best league in the world. It’s about just preparing yourself the best you can, and I feel like I’ve done that this summer. I’ve worked really hard.”

Edmonton has woken up since replacing Coach Jay Woodcroft with Kris Knoblauch as no team is hotter and no player hotter than McDavid, who is back in his Hart Trophy-favored role.

“I don’t know if it’s a different mindset. I think we’re just playing differently to a degree,” said Evander Kane, who’s second in the NHL this season with 93 hits. “We couldn’t have started worse than we did. We’re slowly digging ourselves out of a hole here, and we understood that we needed to put a bunch of games together to give ourselves a shot here and climb back in the standings. We’ve done that and we’re going to continue to have to do that if we want to be in the playoffs.”

Knoblauch has seen first-hand on the bench the attitude of the players lift from the team’s successful run, making for a fun and more relaxed environment as they chase more wins to make up for their slow start.

“Guys are talking on the bench. They’re positive, they’re engaging and it’s easy,” Knoblauch said. “When you’re winning hockey games, it’s so much easier. The pressure is off and you start enjoying the game; not only playing the game, but just coming to the rink and spending time in the dressing room and being with each other. It’s a lot easier.”

NHL Betting Pick: Oilers

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READ MORE: Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – December 18th, 2023