The NHL Daily: Stockholm syndrome
Colorado Avalanche’s Peter Forsberg watches the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan
Welcome to the NHL Daily, and take a dive into tonight’s NHL action as we explore betting angles and search for value in this volatile, no good sport.
It is officially the most wonderful time of the year for sports bettors. With college basketball starting tonight, there will be plenty of action every night, and the NHL will likely slip even further off the radar as most bettors stick with NFL, NBA, NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball to make up their wheelhouse. On almost every night, the NHL will be the least bet of the five sports going right now, which is something to keep in mind when you see movement in the market.
Last night’s action: Thursday night was a prime example of why it can be so frustrating to handicap hockey. Both New Jersey (+109) and Arizona (+210) took leads into the third period, and neither of them came through. Much like the Islanders did on Tuesday against the Oilers, the Devils played a great game overall but were undone by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisatl in overtime. In St. Louis, the last-place Coyotes hung in with the first-place Blues until they were undone in a shootout. Getting a +210 underdog to a shootout is a good thing, but it still isn’t fun when things aren’t going your way. The good news is that there’s a lot of season left.
We’ve got an interesting start to the day as the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche will play the first of two games in Stockholm, Sweden at 2 p.m. ET. There’s a lot to this one as it is Matt Duchene’s first game with the Sens since since being traded to Ottawa on Sunday. It just happens to come against the Avalanche; good work. NHL. The Senators are the better team and win this one over 50 percent of the time, but there’s value on the Avalanche at +125.
The Penguins and Capitals meet for the first time this year in a game that feels a bit wonky given the start to the season. The Penguins have been the better of the two teams to start the year, but neither team has found its stride, and both are giving up a lot of scoring chances at 5-on-5. This game is a coin flip, and with the Caps at that price, they’re in range.
The Maple Leafs will be without Auston Matthews again on Friday night as they host the Boston Bruins. On the other hand, the Bruins look to be getting a boost with Brad Marchand probable for the game. The Maple Leafs create a lot of scoring chances, but they also have a tough time limiting them and currently rank third to last in expected goals against at 5-on-5. Even with backup goaltender Anton Khudobin in net, there’s enough of an edge on Boston to grab them at +118.
A look under the hood reveals that the Dallas Stars and New York Islanders are pretty similar. Both teams are doing a good job of driving possession and are on the plus side of the ledger when it comes to expected goals differential. The Isles are a little more solid defensively, and should they avoid playing Denis Seidenberg, they have a very consistent group of rearguards. Since there isn’t much at all in between these two teams, the Isles get the nod. (Please note: The author of this column is an Islanders fan, however he regularly suggests plays against his Isles in said column).
The Vegas Golden Knights return home after a long road trip and waiting for them are the high-flying Winnipeg Jets. Much has been made about the Vegas home-ice advantage so far but this is a tough ask of the Knights. It’s been hard to adjust my number for Golden Knights’ fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace, but I feel confident in what I’ve got tonight, and that’s the Jets.
Picks: Colorado +125, Washington +109, Boston +118, New York Islanders +120, Winnipeg -120
Season to date: 37-46, -4.1u