Free NHL Betting Picks for March 1

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The NHL regular season is back in business and after handicapping all the matchups on this Saturdays schedule, I am ready to release my top three NHL picks.

Saturday, March 1st
New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Money Line: OFF
Total Line: OFF
The Rangers wasted little getting back to work with a 2-1 victory over Chicago this past Thursday as 107 road underdogs on BetOnline's closing moneyline. What made this win so impressive besides holding the top scoring team in the league to just one goal was the fact that Cam Talbot was in goal instead of Henrik Lundqvist and he promptly stopped 31 of 32 shots. Look for Lundqvist to get the start against Philadelphia unless the Rangers decide to stick with the hot hand.
The Flyers return to the ice was less than impressive with a 7-3 drubbing by San Jose as 112 home underdogs after taking a four-game winning streak into the break. Philly has won its last two games at home against New York including a 2-1 victory early in the season, but look for the rust to linger for at least one more game with a loss to their division rivals.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens
Money Line: OFF
Total Line: OFF
Toronto's three goals in the third period against the Islanders were enough to force overtime, but it fell in the extra period 5-4 as a 116 road favorite. The main takeaway from this game is that the Maple Leafs recent scoring binge did get impacted by the long layoff. They tallied an average of four goals in their previous seven games before the break while going 5-1-1.
The Canadiens split their first two games since the break with a 2-1 overtime loss to Detroit as 119 home favorites followed by a 6-5 shootout win over Pittsburgh as 167 underdogs on the road. They are another team that has had no problem finding the back of the net lately with an average of 2.9 goals in their past eight games. Both of these teams' ability to score combined with some rusty goaltending should set the stage for another high-scoring affair. The total has gone OVER in the last three meetings between these two bitter rivals and it goes OVER an anticipated total line of 5.5 this Saturday.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Money Line: Off
Total Line: OFF
Pittsburgh went into the break with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Rangers as a 160 home favorite and came of it with the loss to Montreal in a shootout, but the one constant has been the ability to light the lamp. The Penguins have been held to fewer than three goals in just four of their last 12 games. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury may be carrying some rust into this matchup but Sidney Crosby and Co. have not skipped a beat.
Counting Thursday's loss to New York, the Blackhawks have now posted just three victories in their last 10 games, but nine of those games were on the road. They return home this Saturday where they have gone 18-4-7 this season. Looking back at this matchup, the last five games have been decided by one goal with four ending in overtime. Even though these two have not faced one another since December of 2011, I would expect Saturday's game to remain just as close. While I would lean towards Chicago when picking a side, I am going with the OVER on an expected line of 5.5 in a matchup between two of the highest scoring teams in the league.

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