One The Ice is a daily look at the top plays on the board for NHL. If its a top scoring line, a power play crew, or just a collection of value plays and one off’s, this is your stop to get an edge on the ice. Take a closer look at the days slate and start your NHL research here.
NHL On The Ice – 12/18/18 Games
Florida Panthers (12-13-6) at Buffalo Sabres (20-9-5)
Buffalo -125, Over/Under: 6
The Buffalo Sabres continue to surprise this season. Winners of three out of their last four games, the Sabres have proven they are not a flash in the pan but instead are a true contender this year. Their next opponent, the Florida Panthers, have been unable to make the same turnaround and have been a major disappointment.
While Florida has generated a solid offense, their defense and goaltending have been subpar. The team ranks 28th in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.55), and both goalies have save percentages under .905. Aleksander Barkov, one of the more underrated players in the league, broke out with a hat trick in their last game and will try to continue his hot streak.
Buffalo, while not exceptional in any one category, are solid all-around and have strong goaltending. Their two goalies, Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark, have almost identical save percentages (.919 & .915) to provide some stability for the squad. Their top line of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart are really the only players that can be counted on to produce consistently on offense.
Toronto Maple Leafs (21-10-2) at New Jersey Devils (11-13-7)
Toronto -165, Over/Under: 6
On paper, this matchup looks like it shouldn’t be close just like their first meeting this season in which Toronto won 6-1. However, that game was in Toronto but this one will be in New Jersey. The Devils are a different team at home, going 8-2-4, compared to just 3-11-2 on the road. Additionally, Toronto has dropped their last two games.
Even considering the above, the Leafs are a much better team. They rank 6th in the NHL in goals scored per game (3.55) while the Devils are 27th in goals allowed per game (3.52). Led by the dynamic Auston Matthews, who has 27 points in just 19 games this year, Toronto’s second line is arguably the best in the league. On defense, Morgan Rielly leads all blueliners with 35 points in 33 games.
Detroit Red Wings (14-15-5) at Philadelphia Flyers (12-15-4)
Philladelphia -165, Over/Under: 6.5
The Flyers are a team in disarray. They just fired their head coach, the team has dropped four straight and has chaos in goal. The team was forced to use emergency goalie Alex Lyon in their last game as the top three goalies were all unable to play for various reasons. It is unclear if any of the top three will be back in time for Detroit, so Philadelphia has called up its top goaltending prospect, Carter Hart. The team already gives up the third most goals per game and their offense lacks the punch to keep them in games.
If Hart is to start for the first time, this could be a favorable matchup to get his feet wet. Losers of four of their last five games, Detroit ranks in the bottom third of the league in both shots on goal and goals per game. With the Flyers’ shaky goalie situation though, this could be an opportunity for a value play from second liners Andreas Athanasiou and Frans Nielsen.
San Jose Sharks (18-11-5) at Minnesota Wild (17-13-2)
Minnesota -125, Over/Under: 6
After starting the season right around .500, San Jose has turned it on, winning six of their last seven games. The team ranks 10th in goals scored per game, and has better Center depth than almost anyone. Left Wing Tomas Hertl has been red hot recently, tallying 3 goals and 3 assist in his last five games. His DFS price is still low, making him a strong value play.
Minnesota has been up and down this year, having a difficult time maintaining a win streak. The team relies on its strong defense, ranking 5th in the NHL in goals allowed per game. Both Minnesota and San Jose rank near the top of the league in both power play and penalty kill, so this game will likely be decided at even strength.
Calgary Flames (22-10-2) at Dallas Stars (16-14-3)
Calgary -120, Over/Under: 6
The Dallas Stars will be happy to be back at home following an 0-4 road trip. The team is just 6-11-2 on the road, compared to an impressive 10-3-1 at home. They rank just 25th in goals scored this season, but defenseman Miro Heiskanen has played very well of late. He has five points in his last five games while totaling a whopping 17 shots on goal.
Calgary, on the other hand, has had no issues scoring this year. They are 5th in the league in goals scored (3.59 per game). They are one of the most complete teams in all of hockey, ranking 3rd in goals allowed per game (2.71). The emergence of Matthew Tkachuk has provided the Flames with two powerful lines that can score at any moment. He has 2 goals and 6 assists in his last five games. His linemate, Mikael Backlund, has also been productive and can be used in DFS with a relatively low price.
St. Louis Blues (12-15-4) at Edmonton Oilers (18-13-3)
Edmonton -175, Over/Under: 5.5
Before getting stomped by Calgary in their last game, the St. Louis Blues had won three of their previous four. Weak both offensively and defensively, the Blues have struggled to get into any rhythm. Their goaltending has been among the worst in the NHL, and losing top defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has only made things worse.
As most years, Edmonton has continued to hover a little above average even with one of the most talented players on the planet. Connor McDavid and the top line aside, the rest of the team fails to bring any scoring punch. Overall, the Oilers are just 20th in the NHL in goals per game. Defenseman Darnell Nurse has played better of late and the team needs it after the injury to Oscar Klefbom. Nurse has six points in his last five games after nine points in his first 29 games. Goalie Mikko Koskinen has been a revelation though, bursting onto the scene at age 30 and being among the league leaders in save percentage (.928) and goals against average (2.18).
Tampa Bay Lightning (25-7-2) at Vancouver Canucks (16-16-4)
Tampa -175, Over/Under: 6.5
The marquee matchup of the night features the red hot Vancouver Canucks against the top team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Vancouver hasn’t lost in regulation in their last seven games, and Tampa hasn’t in their last ten. Tampa has been dominant this season, leading the league in goals per game (4.0) and also featuring some of the top power play and penalty kill units. The Lightning truly feature three different scoring lines, and it is debatable which is best. To add to their dominance, starting goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has returned from injury. While he struggled in his last game against Winnipeg, when healthy, he is one of the best netminders in hockey.
If there is a team that can compete with Tampa right now, it’s Vancouver. The Canucks actually won the first meeting of the season between these teams 4-1. Center Elias Pettersson and Winger Brock Boeser have been on fire, combining for 19 points (including 6 on the power play) in their last five games. Goalie Jacob Markstrom has also greatly improved his play of late, going 4-0 with a 1.5 GAA and .947 save percentage.
Winnipeg Jets (22-9-2) at Los Angeles Kings (11-20-3)
Winnipeg -170, Over/Under: 6
The Winnipeg Jets, winners of nine of their last ten games, have used their high powered offense to assert themselves as one of the best teams in the league. Ranking 4th in the NHL in goals scored per game, they have the best power play in hockey (30.8%). Led by Mark Scheifele, the Jets are extremely deep as they have 6 players with at least 24 points this season.
Winnipeg’s high powered offense should have a strong game against the lowly Kings. In comparison to the Jets, Los Angeles doesn’t have a single player that has tallied more than 21 points this season (Anze Kopitar). Additionally, Los Angeles ranks just 29th in penalty killing, so the Jets power play should be able to capitalize.