Home | News | Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – March 18th, 2024

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – March 18th, 2024

By Hank Blaine

The Montreal Canadiens are going to miss the playoffs yet again and now may not have head coach Martin St. Louis for the rest of the season as he has taken an indefinite leave of absence for family reasons. Assistant coach Trevor Letowski will run the team while St. Louis is away. Here’s a look at two intriguing early-week NHL matchups.

Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (March 18th, 2024)

Buffalo Sabres vs. Seattle Kraken

  • When: Monday, March 18th, 2024, 10:00 PM ET
  • Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA
  • Radio: WGR 550 AM (Sabres) // 98.7 FM ESPN New York (Kraken)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: Sabres (+1.5) // Kraken (-1.5)

One of only two games on Monday. Both clubs need to get hot immediately to have any shot at a playoff spot. Buffalo is playing better lately but had a three-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 4-1 loss in Detroit. The Red Wings had lost seven in a row. Buffalo native Patrick Kane scored a tiebreaking goal late in the second period and James Reimer stopped 25 shots for Detroit.

The Sabres, with 14 games left on their schedule, are five points behind Detroit in a wild-card chase that also includes New Jersey and Pittsburgh.

“There’s urgency at this time of year for everybody,” Buffalo coach Don Granato said. “Turn the page quick. Obviously this road trip, we know, you look at it, they’re all tough buildings, they’re all tough teams and we obviously knew that ahead of time. The urgency is the urgency at this time of the year for everybody. Big trip ahead.”

Tage Thompson opened the scoring with his 20th goal of 2023-24, marking the third consecutive season in which he has hit the mark. That’s tied with Jeff Skinner for the longest active run by a Sabres player.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 22 of 25 shots in the loss with Detroit’s final goal coming into an empty net. Buffalo took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but the game was all Detroit after that. Luukkonen has allowed three goals or less in 12 straight starts, going 8-3-1 over that stretch with a .925 save percentage as he tries to keep the Sabres in the playoff race. Overall, UPL has now allowed three goals or fewer in 25 of his last 26 games played.

Seattle lost its fourth game in a row Saturday, 4-1 vs. Nashville. Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves and Andre Burakovsky scored Seattle’s lone goal in the final seconds of a power play early in the third period. But that was all Seattle could manage as it remained nine points behind Vegas with 16 games left. Burakovsky has scored three times over six games since he returned from an undisclosed injury.

“The last couple of games obviously haven’t been going our way. But I think we just have to keep putting our foot forward. We’re still fighting over here,” Seattle forward Kailer Yamamoto said.

Kraken forward Jordan Eberle needs one assist to become the seventh member of the 2008 NHL Draft class with at least 400 career assists. Seattle tries for the season sweep as it won 5-2 in Buffalo on Jan. 9. Alex Wennberg, Jaden Schwartz and Matty Beniers scored second-period goals and the Kraken pulled away. Yanni Gourde and Vince Dunn also scored for the Kraken and Joey Daccord made 36 saves. Skinner and Alex Tuch scored for the Sabres while Devon Levi made 21 saves.

NHL Betting Pick: Kraken

Winnipeg Jets vs. New York Rangers

  • When: Tuesday, March 19th, 2024, 7:00 PM ET
  • Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
  • Radio: Power 97 FM (Jets) // 98.7 FM ESPN New York (Rangers)
  • Live Stream: ESPN+
  • NHL Betting Odds: TBA

Potential Stanley Cup Finals preview with the Rangers leading the Metropolitan Division and the Jets close to the lead in the Central Division. The Blueshirts won their second game in a row Sunday, 5-2 vs. the Islanders. The Rangers have now reached 45 wins for the third consecutive year (47 in 2022-23 & 52 in 2021-22). There are only two other stretches in franchise history that spanned three or more consecutive campaigns: 2013-14 to 2016-17 (4) and 1970-71 to 1972-73 (3). Mika Zibanejad tied the game for the Rangers with a goal 27 seconds into the second period. His seven career goals within the opening 30 seconds of a period are tied with Adam Graves, Chris Kreider and Rod Gilbert for the second most in franchise history. Jean Ratelle (10) leads the list. Artemi Panarin assisted on the Rangers’ fifth goal and boosted his career total with the franchise to 138-297—435 (336 GP). He can be the third player to register 300 career assists prior to his 400th game with the franchise (Mark Messier: 375 GP & Brian Leetch: 368 games played). Defenseman Ryan Lindgren took an awkward fall along the boards Sunday and couldn’t put any weight on his left leg as he left the ice. The 26-year-old blueliner had an assist on Will Cuylle’s goal earlier in the contests, giving him 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 66 games this year. Zac Jones could see a larger role if Lindgren is forced to miss time, while the newly acquired Chad Ruhwedel would likely slot into the lineup. New York already is down another defenseman in the injured Jacob Trouba. Winnipeg remains without good young center Gabriel Vilardi as he has been diagnosed with an enlarged spleen. The ailment was discovered while Vilardi was being evaluated for a separate, unnamed upper-body injury. This is Vilardi’s third medical absence of his first Jets season, following a short-term lower-body injury in January and a six-week absence due to a sprained MCL suffered against Los Angeles, his former club, in October. Vilardi has 16 goals and 30 points in 38 contests. He was the centerpiece of Winnipeg’s offseason blockbuster trade of PL Dubois to Los Angeles, which also yielded Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and a second-round draft pick. The Rangers look for the season sweep as they beat the Jets 3-2 in overtime on Oct. 30 in Winnipeg. Zibanejad scored 4:34 into overtime. Panarin celebrated his 32nd birthday with a goal and two assists. Igor Shesterkin stopped 27 shots. David Gustaffson and Nikolaj Ehlers scored for the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck made 23 saves.

NHL Betting Pick: Rangers

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READ MORE: Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – March 25th, 2024