We're getting to that point in the season where some teams are under an immense amount of pressure to pick up points, and some don't really have any incentive.
This is hockey, though. You can't mail it in, so we should pick the best clubs playing well at present.
Who are they today?
Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers ML (+122) - 2 Stars
It's actually surprising to me to see Philadelphia as a 'dog in this instance.
Sure, they're well behind the Sabres in the standings, but recently, the Flyers thoroughly outperformed the Sabres on ice -- especially defensively. Philadephia has tallied the 10th-fewest expected goals (xGA) per 60 minutes since February 1st (2.90). The Sabres are an ugly 28th (3.64) in that department.
Offensively, it's pretty ugly with both. The Flyers have the 2nd-lowest rate of expected goals scored (xGF) per 60 minutes in that same period (2.47), and Buffalo has the 10th-worst rate (2.95).
So, we'll get a significantly better defense with these two poor offenses, and Philadelphia -- indisputably -- has the better netminder. In terms of goals saved above expectation (GSAx), Carter Hart is 19th in the league (9.25), but Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (-6.60) is 81st out of 92 goalies with an appearance.
Our model believes the Flyers win 51.7% of the time versus these 45.0% implied odds.
Carolina Hurricanes at Toronto Maple Leafs
Under 6.5 (-138) - 2 Stars
This line is roughly equal to a -110 line on a 6.0-goal total. I thought I'd mention that in case FanDuel wasn't available in your state; it is the only book with a 6.5-goal total still hanging out there.
Either way, I still think we can take the under in Toronto tonight just as we did earlier this week against Colorado. In many ways, Carolina is just a better version of the Avs.
The Canes have ceded the second-fewest xGA per 60 minutes since February 1st (2.60), and Toronto (2.84) hasn't been far behind. These are both really solid defensive clubs, and the aggregate offense here isn't alarming.
Carolina is 4th in xGF per 60 minutes in that same period, and Toronto is 14th. In both cases, their defense is still better.
Our model sees fewer than seven goals in this game 61.9% of the time. These odds imply a 58.0% chance, so there's a smidge of value here on this short slate.