What NHL Bettors Should Know About Islanders-Leafs, Sharks-Predators
Austin Watson (L) and Brenden Dillon (R) | Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
We’ve got something on each side of the border for tonight’s NHL guide, starting with a combustible matchup between the league’s most volatile team, the New York Islanders, and the surging Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the West, the Nashville Predators host the San Jose Sharks in a battle between teams who have been on the opposite end of the luck spectrum this season.
Our team of puck experts breaks down everything you need to know to inform your betting and DFS action below. — Michael Leboff
Information is current as of Wednesday evening. Check back during the day and keep an eye on our Twitter handle for any updates.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS (+176) @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (-210)
7 p.m. ET
Actual Goals: The Islanders are the NHL’s cardiac kids. There have been a league-high average of 6.92 goals scored in their games this season, which is .75 higher than the No. 2 team in the league, Tampa Bay. Toronto ranks ninth with 6.08 total goals per game
The Leafs rank second in the league with 2.86 goals scored per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, and the Islanders are right behind them in third place at 2.76. Unfortunately for the Isles, they also have the worst goals allowed per 60 at 2.86. — Michael Leboff
Hypothetical Goals: Tonight’s matchup features the league’s two worst defenses in terms of expected goals (xG) against in 5-on-5. Toronto has allowed 133.48 xGA this year in those situations, while the Islanders have surrendered 133.25.
Even with their high xGA, the Leafs actually have a xG differential of +2.72 at 5-on-5 thanks to their league-best 136.2 xGF. The Islanders, on the other hand, have the fifth-worst xG differential in the league, at -16.39. — Michael Leboff
Line Movement: How about the line movement at CRIS? This morning, the Isles got steamed from +190 to +164 and then two minutes somebody got down on the Leafs later the Isles were back to +175. That crazy market movement is a good metaphor for the type of team the Islanders are. – Michael Leboff
Can’t Get Much Worse: A few weeks ago, the Islanders got blown off the ice by the Leafs, 5-0. In the past four years, teams that lost the previous head-to-head matchup by five or more goals covered the puckline in their next meeting 55% of the time (134-108) — John Ewing
Danger Zone: The Islanders have allowed 666 high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 this year, 42 more than the next team. The Isles figure to struggle limiting chances at the Air Canada Centre, as Toronto has created the second-most high-danger scoring chances at 5-on-5 this season. — Michael Leboff
Great Dane: Even though the Leafs have allowed such a high number of expected goals, they are in the top half of the league in actual goals against. A big reason for that is the play of goaltender Frederik Andersen. The 28-year-old Denmark native leads the NHL with 25.18 goals saved above average (GSAA) in 51 games played. — Michael Leboff
About Auston: In DFS hockey, targeting peripheral stats is key when searching for both a high floor and ceiling. The upside with targeting shots over blocked shots is pretty simple: Small events (shots) are exactly what lead to less predictable — but often more significant — events like goals and assists. Auston Matthews, typically, is one of those peripheral stat monsters we like to pay up for. That said, he has seen his shots dip to the 84th percentile over the past month, which is way down from the 95th percentile over the past year. His power play shots and shots+blocks are also lower than his long-term sample. Toronto leads the slate in Expected Corsi For, so even at $7,600 he could certainly get back on track tonight against arguably the league’s worst defense, but it’s notable that he has reached his salary-based expectation just four times in his last ten games. — Joe Holka
Pulock Him In: If you’re searching for value in this game, Ryan Pulock stands out and is priced at $4,100 on DraftKings. No player in this tilt has a higher shots+blocks percentile over the past month (97th) and he provides leverage off of those rostering stacks from the first power play unit. Historically, power play skaters on teams with comparably low Vegas implied totals and peripheral stats, have performed above their salary-based expectation (+0.47 DraftKings Plus/Minus) with a 54.8 percent Consistency Rating. — Joe Holka
It’s Overrrr: The Islanders are 22-14-3 (61.1%) to the over this season in games with a total of six or higher (like it is on Thursday), the second-most profitable team in the NHL in the spot. Overall, they are 37-21-3 to the over, the most profitable team in the league (+$1,377 for a $100 bettor). — Evan Abrams
Memories: The Maple Leafs have won seven consecutive home games entering this contest. This is Toronto head coach Mike Babcock’s longest home winning streak since his days in Detroit. Between Nov. 5, 2011, and Feb. 19, 2012, Babcock and the Red Wings won 23 consecutive home games. — Evan Abrams
SAN JOSE SHARKS (+148) @ NASHVILLE PREDATORS (-170)
8 p.m. ET
Puck Luck: We have teams at opposite ends of the luck spectrum in this tilt. Nashville’s 101.43 is the fourth-highest PDO (a measure of luck that is based on shooting percentage + save percentage where 100 is the average) in the league at 5-on-5, while San Jose ranks 25th with a 98.86.
The Predators’ high number is mostly due to their league-leading 93.59 5-on-5 save percentage, while the Sharks rank in the bottom 10 in both save percentage (91.89) and shooting percentage (6.98) at 5-on-5. — Michael Leboff
Bad Pup: When two good teams (with winning percentages of 55% or better) play, the underdog has been a bad bet on the moneyline. The dog hasn’t had a profitable season in eight years, going 357-536 (40%), resulting in a $9,625 deficit for a $100 bettor since 2011. — John Ewing
Special Sharks: The Sharks have the best special teams units in the NHL. San Jose’s penalty kill is operating at 84.2%, tops in the circuit, and its power play is converting on 22.4% of its chances, tied for fourth-best (with the Predators).
Nashville’s penalty kill is still solid at 82%, but the Predators’ propensity to take penalties could hurt them against San Jose. The Predators have taken 47 more minor penalties than they’ve drawn this season, which puts them in the bottom five in the league. — Michael Leboff
Holy Roman: Roman Josi — not Brent Burns — is the only skater in this game who ranks in the 99th percentile in shots+blocks over the past month and Josi also carries a $900 price discount on DraftKings. He leads the slate with 12 Pro Trends and has reached his salary-based expectation in ten of his last 11 games. — Joe Holka
Buyer Beware: Obviously, there’s value in targeting goaltenders on great defenses because the odds of that team allowing fewer goals and accruing the win are much greater. That said, in DFS hockey we need saves to buoy a reasonable floor for cash games. On today’s slate, the Predators have allowed the second-fewest Corsi-Against over the past month and Pekka Rinne currently holds a below-average Save Prediction of 29.82. — Joe Holka
Under the Radar: Over the past two seasons, no team has been a more profitable under team than the Sharks at 73-44-25 (62.4%). That includes a 20-10-1 mark on the road this season (5-0-1 in their past six games). — Evan Abrams
After all the talk about how volatile the Islanders are and just how not fun it is to back them, that doesn’t mean we should pass up value on the board. Right now, there are some +190s around the market but if you only have access to the consensus +175/180 that’s still playable. At +175 the bookmakers are suggesting the Isles have a 36.36% chance of winning this tilt. That is about two percentage points shy of where I’ve got them and like them for a bet at +165 or better. – Michael Leboff
Top Photo: Austin Watson (L) and Brenden Dillon (R)
Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports