While everyone else is getting ready to call it quits at the office and spend the next couple of days bouncing from one house holiday party to another, NHL players won’t have that luxury.  The ice they see won’t be in the forms of little cubes in a glass but, rather, under their feet as they continue to work their way through the season.  As the next-to-last weekend of the year gets underway, several hockey teams are hoping to finish the year strong so let’s look at our picks for Dec 20.

Daily Picks Dec 20

Panthers vs Stars

The Florida Panthers are going to face the Dallas Stars tonight in Miami.  Against the backdrop of Florida Christmas decorations – which means pink flamingos and sailboats – the Stars are looking to find a boost of energy.  They’ve been a little sluggish lately and need to regroup if they expect to give the Panthers a decent contest.

The Panthers are 10-7-2 playing at home this year and have been able to play their past eight games on their own ice.  They haven’t had to travel at all this month and have also been resting since this past Monday, when they easily took down the Ottawa Senators.  Because they have the advantage of being well-rested, the Panthers are definitely going to win tonight.  An over of 5.5 is a good bet, as Florida has a good record of beating the odds at home and they’re going to be strong tonight.

Devils vs Capitals

The Washington Capitals are away tonight against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center and this could be a nice Christmas present for the Devils.  They’ve won their past two games and would like to make it three in a row, especially under interim head coach Alain Nasreddine.  He has brought a recipe that is obviously working, and the Devils also have a slight advantage as they’re playing at home.

Having said that, though, there’s a problem.  The Caps are first in the NHL with 53 points and first in regulation wins.  They’re also fourth in the penalty kill and sixth in the power play, and have the highest scoring defenseman in the league with John Carlson.  The Devils also just traded out Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes, which is going to hurt the team’s strength.  Kyle Palmieri would have to step up big time to overcome the absence, but it still wouldn’t be enough.  The Caps are (rightfully) favored to win at -190 and there’s not a whole lot of action there.  The puckline sits at -1.5 for Washington and this pick is worth a few extra gambling dollars on Dec 20, the last Friday before Christmas.

Rangers vs Leafs

The New York Rangers host the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight and both are about even when looking at the scorecards.  The Leafs are 17-14-4, compared to the Rangers at 16-13-4, and the contest should prove interesting.  Over the past couple of weeks, Toronto has been putting out some strong performances and has been hot on offense.  On the other hand, New York has had difficulty at home this entire season.

The past two weeks have seen the Leafs take several three-goal victories, which is indicative of the strength and coordination the team is showing.  Since Mike Babcock was fired this year, new coach Sheldon Keefe has helped give the team a boost and produced an 8-4 record.  The Rangers started strong this year, but then fell into a slump.  The Leafs are favored to win and the moneyline of -160 is a good bet.  The Over/Under is mixed and this one should be played safe.

Oilers vs Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are going to enjoy seeing how Edmonton decorates for the holidays as they take on the Oilers tonight in what could be their fourth consecutive win.  They just took down the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, 4-1, while the Oilers were stopped by the St. Louis Blues Wednesday.

The Penguins are favored to win at -134; however, they’re also going to play without captain Sidney Crosby again.  The Oilers are the underdog at +110 and might actually be worth the money.  The Penguins haven’t been their greatest when playing on the road this season and the Oilers have some decent strength with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.  The Oilers and the Penguins, combined, average slightly more than 6.15 goals a game and 5.65 goals allowed.  With that performance, and an Over of 5.5, this will be a great way to receive a Christmas bonus.

So, that’s our picks for Dec 20 everyone. Have a great holiday season, and we’ll see you on the other side.