HNIC Coast To Coast: Hellebuyck Hopes To Bolster Hart Push Against Sens

Welcome back to another edition of HNIC Coast to Coast! With the Easter weekend upon us, the National Hockey League schedule is a little bit erratic, bouncing back and forth between crush loads of action and next to none to speak of. The weekend is of little exception, with a hectic Saturday and a sparse Sunday. Nevertheless, all seven Canadian teams are in action, so let’s dive in and see how the games line up.

7:00 p.m. ET HNIC Matchup: Ottawa Senators @ Winnipeg Jets

Before you get into the deeper details of this matchup, the biggest story for me is in Winnipeg’s goal. This has been one of the deepest years for Hart Trophy (MVP) consideration, and typically, that conversation tends to be dominated by skaters – and usually high-scoring forwards at that.

But Connor Hellebuyck is making his case to be included in this year’s conversation with one of the best seasons we’ve seen by a netminder in some time. In a pocket of years where goals are up and finishing is better than ever, Hellebuyck has kept his numbers dominant, posting a 0.920 save percentage, 26.1 goals saved above league average, and 24.5 goals saved above expected – all league-leading totals among starters. He’s done this while the Jets skaters, while quite good overall, have been pretty unproductive on the offensive front, with team leader Mark Schiefele sitting 44th in the scoring race. Winnipeg’s stingy defensive game works because they have the best goaltender in the world to secure it. While I don’t think he’ll win the award given some of the years we’ve seen up front, a big push to close the year could get him some votes along the way.

Back to the game at hand, the Senators come in on what has felt like an all-too-common late-year winning streak, racking up points only when they stop mattering much. A shutout win over Chicago on Thursday gives them four consecutive victories. Winnipeg faced the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, and while Hellebuyck had another great performance (21 saves on 23 shots), the defending champs handed them their fifth-straight defeat. Needless to say, that’s a trend Winnipeg would like to reverse on Saturday night.

Bet on Senators vs. Jets

OTT +160
WPG -190

10:00 p.m. ET HNIC Headliner: Los Angeles Kings @ Calgary Flames

The Kings have been all over the hockey news cycle this week, with much debate going around involving their play style. Specifically, their 1-3-1 off-puck system, which relies on a clogged-up neutral zone and passive forecheck to force other teams into dump-and-chase, low-event hockey. The 1-3-1 has been criticized in other renditions in the past, most famously when the Philadelphia Flyers made a joke of it against the Tampa Bay Lightning many years ago. Most notably in this case, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Nikita Zadorov openly ripped the Kings for it after their game against them on Monday.

Of course, this is coming to light because the Kings are winning again, having gone 16-8-1 in their last 25 games after going through a hellish January. Contrast that with the hellish couple of weeks the Calgary Flames have had, with five consecutive losses and eight in their last ten games.

This has been a pretty even head-to-head matchup in recent years, with the teams splitting their last ten games against each other. For puckline bettors, this has been a Kings-dominated matchup, with Los Angeles bets coming out ahead in nine of those ten games.

Bet on Kings vs. Flames

LAK -155
CGY +130

Other Canadian NHL Games On Saturday

There are three other games in Canadian NHL action on Saturday:

Anaheim Ducks @ Edmonton Oilers, 4:00 p.m. ET – The Oilers come into this game hot, with wins over Winnipeg and Los Angeles on Tuesday and Thursday. So far this year, the season series has been dominated by the Oilers, who have beaten the Ducks by a combined 20-7 score over three games.

Toronto Maple Leafs @ Buffalo Sabres, 7:00 p.m. ET – Technically, this is the actual headliner on CBC this weekend. Auston Matthews still sits on the cusp of 60 goals while the rest of the Leafs feel good following a 5-1 win over Washington. We’ll have a full preview of this game on Saturday.

Carolina Hurricanes @ Montreal Canadiens, 7:00 p.m. ET – A bit of a rivalry formed between two fanbases and two organizations years back, when Montreal unsuccessfully offer-sheeted Sebastian Aho in 2019, followed by Carolina successfully offer-sheeting Jesperi Kotkaniemi two years later. Since then, though, the results have been pretty one-sided, with Carolina winning eight consecutive games between the two teams. Montreal, winners of three in a row in their own schedule, would like to bring that run to an end.

Away TeamHome TeamTime (ET)
Anaheim Ducks+425-575Edmonton Oilers4:00 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs-155+130Buffalo Sabres7:00 PM
Ottawa Senators+160-190Winnipeg Jets7:00 PM
Carolina Hurricanes-260+210Montreal Canadiens7:00 PM
Los Angeles Kings-155+130Calgary Flames10:00 PM
All Odds Courtesy of bet365 Sportsbook Ontario

Sunday Canadian NHL Action

There is just one game in NHL action on Saturday, and it happens to involve a Canadian team!

Anaheim Ducks @ Vancouver Canucks, 3:30 p.m. ET – The Ducks will make a quick trip from Edmonton to take on a better-rested Canucks, who will have played their last game on Thursday against the Stars. In that one, Vancouver had an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot and kept things tight to the very end, but a back-breaking powerplay goal with three minutes remaining led to an eventual 3-1 defeat. Will Sunday be the night when they officially punch their ticket?

Away TeamHome TeamTime (ET)
Anaheim DucksTBDTBDVancouver Canucks7:00 PM
All Odds Courtesy of bet365 Sportsbook Ontario