NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction for Oilers vs. Jets: Betting Preview for Game 3 in Winnipeg (Sunday, May 23)

NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction for Oilers vs. Jets: Betting Preview for Game 3 in Winnipeg (Sunday, May 23) article feature image
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Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McDavid.

  • The Oilers-Jets series flips to Winnipeg with the visitors in possesion of a 2-0 series lead.
  • Edmonton has won both of its games, all without a single point from their superstar Connor McDavid.
  • Matt Russell explains below why he expects McDavid to get on the scoreboard and the Oilers to win again.

Oilers vs. Jets Odds

Oilers Odds -125
Jets Odds +105
Over/Under 5.5
Time | TV Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM

If football or basketball is your primary sport of choice, you’re probably well aware of the importance of coaching. In those two sports creating a game plan and drilling plays within the framework of system or playbook and then using those plays at just the right time can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Hockey doesn’t work that way. You can’t just call in “Red Right-88” or a good out-of-bounds lob play to get a big first down or a key bucket. The coaching in hockey comes from implementing an attitude more often than a plan. A system exists, but responsibility and will coming from within are what make the difference between wins and losses.

NHL history is littered with teams that fired their head coach in the middle (and in some cases at the end) of the season, only to see that team find their way to the Stanley Cup Final. The NHL is the ultimate coaching carousel. So when a team hires a coach and sticks with said coach for a significant amount of time, he must be doing something right.

Paul Maurice is in his eighth season with the Winnipeg Jets, and the first two games of this series indicate he may be in the midst of his best work.

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Jets Strategy: Don’t Let McDavid Score

The Jets, and specifically their head coach, would tell you that this is all part of the plan. If they weren’t so tight-lipped. However, it’s not hard to see what the plan is that was drilled into the Jets’ players during the four days that led up to the series’ start. The Jets, missing a pair of their better offensive players, are trying to play something of a chess match with Edmonton.

The Oilers’ DNA is to let McDavid and linemate Leon Draisaitl do what they want on offense and hope the other team doesn’t get the puck long enough to create any scoring chances when the top line is on the ice. Then when any of the other three lines are on the ice, their mandate is to be as responsible defensively as possible.

Maurice has made it clear that as long as McDavid’s line doesn’t score, the Jets are fine with no one ever scoring. With the Oilers getting the last change at home, it didn’t matter who was on the ice for Winnipeg, at least two guys were assigned to McDavid at all times, with or without the puck on the stick of the game’s best player. The Jets are willing to take their chances that someone on the Jets will score at some point during the times when McDavid is on the bench.

In Game 1, the Jets did even better, getting goals from non-illustrious scorers Tucker Poolman and Dominic Toninato while McDavid was on the ice. In Game 2, no one scored until Paul Statsny slung a wrist shot through two Oilers defenders and goalie Mike Smith in overtime. The plan has worked.

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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.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.


Will The Real Oilers (and Jets) Please Stand Up?

Even with a decent plan on paper, there is no reason to expect it to actually work. After all, the Oilers star just dropped one of the greatest seasons in NHL history on the rest of the North Division, on the way to nearly lapping the league in points and what should be a unanimous Hart Trophy award.

We’ve documented that the best way to back the Oilers is to simply bet on McDavid to go over his points prop total of 1.5, so we’re well aware that he’s the head of the metaphorical snake in Edmonton. So when McDavid was shockingly held pointless in the first two games of this series this week, it’s no surprise that the Oilers offence appeared to dry up as well. Of course, two Jets wins came along with that.

As we look towards Game 3, while we acknowledge that McDavid’s success is mandatory going forward, we need to take a deeper look at both teams and whether their play is a massive change from a regular-season matchup where the Oilers were 7-2 on the moneyline.

The chart below compares the Oilers’ predictive metric numbers against the Jets in those nine regular season games, versus how the first two games have played out.

Oilers vs. Jets Regular Season Two Playoff Games
High-Danger Chances For 5v5 (per game) 9.11 13.5
High-Danger Chances Against 5v5 7.11 9
High-Danger Conversion Rate 5v5 10.9% 3.7%
Expected Goals For (per game) 2.09 2.52
Expected Goals Share 5v5 54.67% 58.46%
Power Play % 29.6% 0%
McDavid Points Per Game 2.44 0

A couple of things stand out here. The first is the numbers that are very similar from regular season to playoffs. Just like in the regular season matchups, the Oilers are creating more even-strength High-Danger Chances than the Jets.

They’re also creating more offense from an Expected Goals standpoint, actually upping their XG% despite losing the two games. This is a really good sign for Edmonton.

The other noticeable stat lines are really just an elaboration on one really big number: one. The Oilers have just one goal in this series so far, so it’s not surprising at all that their 3.7% conversion rate of the High-Danger Chances 5-on-5 is that low. Since the Oilers have their one goal on 27 HDC, obviously they are “0-fer” on the powerplay at 0/4. Having dominated the Jets on the PP this season, that’s a pretty big production gap to leave empty.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Once you remove empty-net goals from the equation, there’s been just four total goals in this series and none scored on the power play. Given the previous nine matchups, that’s as surprising as McDavid being shutout through two games.

However, while the goal tally looks the way it does, it’s not like the Oilers aren’t still creating enough offense to be successful. It’s easy to bang on the Oilers, given they’ve won just one of six playoff games in the last calendar year.

The table above shows they’re doing what they need to do, but the small sample size leaves a lot of potential for regression to the mean. The Jets are famous in the analytics community for winning despite being on the worse side of the predictive metrics, thanks to the other Connor… their goaltender Hellebuyck.

Last season’s Vezina Trophy winner continues to help the Jets steal games, but it’s important to note that he and his teammates are stealing them.The series shifts to Winnipeg, and the big change is in the last change. As in, the Jets can match lines with the Oilers during stoppages in play. However, there’s no specific line on the Jets that’s going to have more success on McDavid and company so that may not be relevant.

Neither is any home-ice advantage for other reasons, as the Oilers are more than familiar with playing in Winnipeg and with a fan-less environment. I have the Oilers with a 57% chance to win this game, which translates to a fair price for them at -132 odds.

Anything better than that is worth a play on Edmonton and McDavid. I expect them to create a similar amount of quality chances both at even-strength and on the power play and to break through Hellebuyck enough to avoid bigger trouble than they’re already in.

Pick: Oilers ML (-130 or better)

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