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NHL weekend preview: Devils, Blues worth backing on the road

Scott Taetsch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

As usual, we're heading toward a jam-packed Saturday in the NHL, as 24 of the league's 32 teams will be in action.

Let's take a closer look at a couple of clubs worth backing.

Devils @ Flames

Dec. 9, 4 p.m. ET

The Devils are firing on all cylinders since getting captain Nico Hischier back in the lineup. They've won five of six games, losing only to the Sharks in a contest in which they held a 47-18 shot advantage. Go figure.

New Jersey has posted fantastic underlying metrics since Hischier's return, controlling 59.57% of the expected goals at five-on-five. That's a top-tier rate.

With their captain in the lineup, the Devils have a center who can eat up difficult minutes and dominate at both ends of the ice. It makes them better defensively and takes some of the load off Jack Hughes, ensuring he doesn't need to find the scoresheet a couple of times a night for his team to win.

New Jersey looks the part of the elite five-on-five club everyone expected. Factor in that the Devils also have the league's best power play, and it's no coincidence they're piling up wins.

I expect that to continue Saturday afternoon in Calgary. The Flames lack high-end talent up front, have middling five-on-five metrics, and will likely struggle to keep up with the Devils' high-powered offense.

Jacob Markstrom's absence is also problematic. He has quietly had a solid campaign, while Dustin Wolf (minus-1.8) and Dan Vladar (minus-4.6) don't grade out well in goals saved above expected. If Calgary doesn't get good goaltending, New Jersey's firepower could cause a world of problems.

I see edges all over the ice in this game and expect the Devils to grind out another win against the Flames. I would play them up to -135.

Blues @ Blackhawks

Dec. 9, 8 p.m. ET

The Blues go as Jordan Binnington does. Even after getting bombarded by the Golden Knights, he still owns a .912 save percentage and has saved more than nine goals above expectation. He has been one of the better goaltenders in the league this season when also factoring in his difficult workload.

After being lit up by Vegas on Wednesday, the expectation is St. Louis will start Joel Hofer versus the Blue Jackets on Friday night.

That would mean the Blues turn back to Binnington against the Blackhawks on Saturday.

Chicago is truly horrendous across the board. Its goaltending is inconsistent, and the defense is terrible. The Blackhawks also have next to no reliable offensive contributors beyond Connor Bedard. It's a one-man show.

I'm not high on the Blues by any stretch, but they're clearly the better team. They aren't going to give up many opportunities to the Blackhawks, and Binnington should be able to put out the rare fire in front of him.

Assuming Binnington is in net, I'd play the Blues up to -150.

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @ToddCordell.

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