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Jets vs. Canadiens NHL Odds & Pick: Fade Montreal in Bad Schedule Spot (Thursday, April 8)

Jets vs. Canadiens NHL Odds & Pick: Fade Montreal in Bad Schedule Spot (Thursday, April 8) article feature image

Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Sharp (Left) and Alexander Radulov (Right).

  • Montreal may be the favorite, but they're in a tough spot.
  • Only one team all season has won when playing in a new city on back-to-back nights like the Habs.
  • Matt Russell thinks that's too much to overcome against the Jets.

Jets vs. Canadiens Odds

Jets Odds +128
Canadiens Odds -148
Over/Under 6.0
Time | TV Thursday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via DraftKings.

In the hockey metrics universe, we try to use the numbers to boil down what happens on the ice into a result of a mathematical formula. The key is what you put into the formulas, and that those numbers are important measures of what happens in a hockey game.

Sometimes, however, there is a trend in a special season that might wipe out all the variables in the formula, kind of like when you try to multiply zero in any formula, it’s just going to result in a final result of ‘0’. 

In this unique season with a condensed schedule of constant back-to-back games between same opponents, we’ve tried to measure the importance of the rematch element. Two-thirds of the season in, there hasn’t been a definite conclusion on that matter.

However, there has been one trend stemming from this season that’s given us a definite conclusion. When one team plays in one city on one night and has to play the next night in a different city against a team that’s been waiting for them, well, that team is screwed. 

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Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets have the honour of being the only team to win a game after playing a different team, in a different city, the night before. In the second game of their season, the Jets lost in Toronto, hopped a flight to Ottawa and slept their way through a hockey game, creating just 5 High-Danger Chances at even-strength, while allowing 10 to the Senators.

Down a goal late, the Jets scored with their goalie pulled to force overtime and won the game in extra time. In 13 games since where this same scheduling circumstance played out, the more rested, fresher team has won every single time. 

Sometimes the Jets were the beneficiaries of schedule, and sometimes the Jets were the disadvantaged. They had to be thrilled to sit in Montreal and wait for the Habs to finish playing the arch-rival Maple Leafs. Especially since the Jets haven’t had to expend too much energy lately, given a pair of games with the Canucks have been postponed in the last week. 

Jets games have the most total High-Danger Chances in the North Division at an average of 17.7 per game. Given the high-octane style that they play and force in others, you can’t show up a step slow. 

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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 cited from Evolving Hockey.

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens return to Montreal after a game in Toronto on Wednesday against the rival Maple Leafs. A deflating loss came after the teams entered the third period tied at 1, only to have Montreal fall short when Toronto separated themselves thanks to a pair of soft goals on back-up goalie Jake Allen.

Add that to their dramatic overtime win over the Oilers on Monday, and the Habs have played in a pair of significant battles already this week. With nominal No. 1 goaltender Carey Price out for what’s expected to be a brief period of time, Allen is expected to start a second consecutive game, which is not something he’s had to do since December 2017. 

From a metric standpoint, the Canadiens are the diametric opposite of the Jets. At their average state, they’re going to create even-strength High-Danger Chances at a  56.8% clip compared to their opponents. The Jets’ opponents’ create 56.4% of the High-Danger Chances in their games. 

Betting Analysis & Pick

If this game were simply a math equation, it’s clear that the formula would spit out a bet on the Canadiens. My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, makes Montreal a -150 favourite, so an opening price of anything shorter than that should normally be a bet.

However, we know that there’s an equation killer ‘0’ variable in there with the terrible schedule spot for the Habs. Even with what we know about this schedule spot, it can’t just be a bet on the Jets at any price. If the Jets were -500, that can’t be a bet on Winnipeg. Fortunately, that’s not the price. 

The opening moneyline prices are around WPG +120/MTL -140. So now we know the answer that the formula has spit out, we just don’t know what the value of this unknown variable is.

Under normal circumstances we’d need a much higher underdog number to back a team with the Jets’ metrics, but I’m willing to semi-blindly back the significance of the scheduling spot and take the Jets here at an underdog price.

Pick: Jets (+120 or better)

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