NHL Odds, Picks & Preview for Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets Game 4: Can McDavid and Co. Avoid a Sweep? (Monday, May 24)
Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Tyson Barrie
- The Edmonton Oilers are out to avoid a shocking sweep on Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
- On Sunday night, Winnipeg trailed by three goals with 10 minutes left in the third period before mounting a spectacular comeback, winning in overtime.
- Michael Leboff breaks down where there’s betting value in Monday night’s Game 4, delivering his best bet for the game below.
Oilers vs. Jets Game 4 Odds
|Time||Monday, 9:45 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings|
Nobody would blame you if you turned off Sunday’s Game 3 between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets early in the third period. Up 4-1 with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl flying, it looked like the Oilers were waltzing their way to a victory to cut their series-deficit in half. Then hockey happened.
Trailing by 3 with less than 10 minutes left, the Jets scored thrice in less than four minutes to send the game to overtime. Just under 10 minutes into OT Winnipeg’s best skater, Nikolaj Ehlers, ripped a wrister past Mike Smith to send the Jets to a 3-0 series lead. It was the first game for Ehlers in over a month. He had two goals.
What’s more is that these two teams will go right back at it on Monday in the first back-to-back set of the Playoffs. After closing as a -124 favorite in Game 3, the Oilers opened as a -106 underdog for Game 4.
One of my tried-and-true philosophies about betting Playoff Hockey is that you can’t overreact to the previous game. Sure, it’s hard to go back to the Oilers after watching them take the biggest gut-punch of the postseason, but that kind of performance could also provide an opportunity to buy low on a team that closed at -167, -177 and -124 in the first three games. The problem is that these Oilers were overrated to begin with, leaving us in a bit of a lurch.
The Jets Are Doing What They Do Best
The Winnipeg Jets can drive numbers-based bettors batty. Long an analytics nuisance, the Jets finished the season near the bottom of the league in expected goal rate and high-danger scoring chance rate. On average, the Jets allowed 0.3 more xGs and 2.22 high-danger chances than they created per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. Those numbers put them in the company of some pretty bad teams like Los Angeles, Columbus and Anaheim.
But this wasn’t the first time we’ve seen the Jets play this tune. Winnipeg was not a good 5-on-5 team in 2019/20 and still was able to hang around the playoff picture for the entire season.
While some people will call it smoke-and-mirrors, at some point we just need to accept that this is who the Winnipeg Jets are. Paul Maurice’s team doesn’t seem to mind chasing the puck all night because they know that they have a world-class goaltender behind them to bail them out and they have plenty of high-level finishers to convert the chances they do create.
It may not be an easy style to quantify or handicap, but it’s working once again.
Through three games the Oilers have created 15 more high-danger scoring chances and hold an 8.48 to 5.83 edge in terms of expected goals (5-on-5). Despite those strong underlying metrics, the Jets have a 6-4 edge in 5-on-5 scoring and have doubled up the Oilers, 10-5, overall. While Connor Hellebuyck deserves a ton of credit in goal, it takes a team effort to take a 3-0 series lead over two of the best players in the world. What’s more impressive is that two of those wins came without Ehlers and one of them came without both Ehlers and Pierre-Luc Dubois. Outside of Hellebuyck, Winnipeg’s biggest asset is its forward depth, so having Ehlers and Dubois back is a big deal.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
Oilers vs. Jets Game 4 Best Bet
I was bullish on Winnipeg’s chances before this series and I remain confident that the Jets are better than they have been given credit for this season. Prior to Game 1, I thought that the betting market got caught up in a couple of things in this matchup. One, everybody was (rightfully) falling over themselves talking about Connor McDavid’s 105-point season. McDavid is a world-beater and can get Edmonton over the line on his own on some nights, but the playoffs are a different beast. McDavid and Draisaitl will need help and I don’t think Edmonton’s depth is good enough to make a run.
Secondly, I thought people were writing off the Jets too quickly because of their poor finish to the season. Sure, the Jets stumbled down the stretch, but they had some built-in excuses. They lost their best forward for the last month of the season and they were basically locked into a playoff spot with 20 games to go. It wasn’t too long ago that this team was within a whisker of Toronto at the top of the North Division.
At the risk of buying high after a wild win, I think the Jets are deserving favorites on Monday night. Not only are they healthy, but Edmonton has a bit of a goaltending dilemma to deal with. Mike Smith was terrific all season, but he’s 39 years old and didn’t play all that well in Game 3. The other option in net is Mikko Koskinen and his -10.37 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx). No matter who Dave Tippett rolls with, the Jets will have a considerable edge, as long as Hellebuyck gets the nod.
I thought the market was too high on Edmonton coming into this series and I still think that is the case. I’d play Winnipeg at -115 or better to pull off the sweep.
Pick: Jets -112 (play to -115)