NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions for Jets vs. Oilers: Betting Preview for Winnipeg & Edmonton Game 1 (May 19)
Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McDavid.
- The North Division finally starts playoff hockey with Edmonton hosting Winnipeg on Wednesday night.
- Edmonton is a -148 favorite to win Game 1 after beating the Jets in seven of nine games this season.
- Mike Ianniello breaks down why Connor McDavid makes the Oilers an easy pick.
Jets vs. Oilers Odds
|Time||Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via DraftKings|
The Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers will finally begin their playoff series on Wednesday night. With the regionalized division alignment of the 2020-21 season, it was easy to get tunnel vision and pay less attention to the rest of the league.
The one thing all hockey fans can agree on: Connor McDavid needs to be in the national spotlight, and him playing in primetime playoff games is great for hockey. The Oilers will be in the Stanley Cup playoffs for just the second time (I am not counting last year’s “qualifying round”) in McDavid’s six-year career.
The Oilers finished the season 35-19-2 (72 points), which was good enough to secure second place in the North Division. Edmonton’s .643 points percentage is their best points percentage since the 1986-87 season.
At 63 points, the Winnipeg Jets (30-23-3) would likely find themselves out of the playoffs in any other division, but they’re in as the three seed in the very weak North Division.
What McDavid was able to do this season is nothing short of remarkable. In a condensed and chaotic schedule, he was able to put together one of the best offensive seasons in NHL history.
McDavid totaled 105 points in 56 games, with 33 goals and 72 assists. His 1.88 points per game is the most in a season since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. The Oilers captain produced a 68.6 On-Ice xG%. He will be the runaway MVP.
Last year’s MVP, Leon Draisaitl, once again had a terrific year as McDavid’s running mate. Second to McDavid’s 105 points was Draisaitl’s 84 points. No other player in the NHL tallied more than 70 points this season.
In addition to the two best forwards, the Oilers will also have the best defensive pair in this series with Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie. Barrie led all NHL defensemen with 48 points and had a 63.3 On-Ice Goals%. Nurse has a strong case to be the league’s most improved player, setting a career high with 16 goals, second among all defenseman.
Another candidate for most improved player of the year is Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith. The veteran netminder finished the season fourth in the NHL with 14.4 GSAx. He missed the start of the season on the injured list and when he made his season debut on Feb. 8, the Oilers sat with a 6-7 record. After that date, Edmonton went 29-11-2 record and were 21-6-2 in Smith’s 30 starts. His .923 save percentage and 2.31 goals against average were both his best marks since 2011-12.
Speaking of that 2011-12 season, we have seen Smith stand on his head through a playoff run before. He led the Phoenix Coyotes on a run to the conference finals with a .944 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average, and three shutouts in 16 playoff games.
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.
On paper, the Winnipeg Jets have one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL. Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler, Andrew Copp, Paul Stastny and Pierre-Luc Dubois are all above-average players.
However, most of them underperformed this season. Ehlers and Wheeler both missed time with injuries and Debois struggled in his new home, amassing just 20 points in 41 games.
Winnipeg’s top line of Connor, Scheifele and Wheeler skated to just a 47% xGoals% this season, and the Jets finished 12th in the league in scoring and 23rd in expected goals at 5-on-5. Fourth-line center Mathieu Perreault is the only forward on the Jets with a xG% over 50% at 5-on-5. Winnipeg will need its forward group to get things going quickly to have a chance to make another postseason run.
This marks the fourth consecutive playoff appearance for the Jets, thanks largely to their strong forward group. Their defensive corps has taken a big hit since their run to the conference finals in 2018. Dustin Byfuglien quit hockey, Jacob Trouba is in New York, Tyler Myers is in Vancouver and Ben Chiarot is in Montreal.
The Winnipeg defense has been a big weakness for them this season. The Jets rank 27th in expected goals against and were 30th in the league in High-Danger Chances Against.
Here is the good news for the Winnipeg Jets: They are a team that is capable of making none of their metrics, none of their season stats, and nothing they have done to this point matter.
That is because the Jets have Connor Hellebuyck as their goaltender.
Hellebuyck is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and put together a 24-17-3 record with a .916 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average this season. He led the NHL with 19.3 GSAx.
During the Jets’ run to the conference finals, Hellebuyck had a .922 save percentage and 2.36 goals-against average over 17 games. He is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL and capable of stealing games and an entire series single-handedly, regardless of how the team in front of him performs.
Betting Analysis & Pick
|Goals For per 60 minutes (5-on-5)||2.52||2.40|
|Goals Against per 60 (5-on-5)||2.54||2.22|
|Goal Differential per 60 (5-on-5)||-0.02||0.18|
|Expected Goals per 60 (5-on-5)||2.20||2.09|
|Expected Goals Against per 60 (5-on-5)||2.23||2.41|
|Expected Goal Differential per 60 (5-on-5)||-0.03||-0.32|
|High-Danger Scoring Chances per 60 (5-on-5)||9.97||9.25|
|High-Danger Scoring Chances Allowed per 60 (5-on-5)||10.05||11.47|
|Power Play %||27.6%||23.0%|
|Penalty Kill %||82.5%||80.5%|
|Expected Save Percentage||93.9%||93.5%|
|Save Percentage (starting goalie)||92.3%||91.6%|
|Goals Saved Above Expectation (starting goalie)||14.4||19.3|
Over the last 15 games of the season, the Oilers finished with a 10-5 record, while the Winnipeg Jets were in free fall, fading to a 5-10 record down the stretch. Over that stretch, the Jets ranked 29th in the league in xGF per 60 and in High-Danger Chances.
Head to head this season, the Oilers dominated Winnipeg this season. Edmonton went 7-2 in nine meetings and outscored the Jets 34-22. The Oilers skated to a 62.2% Goals For percentage and a 54.9% xG percentage. They had a High-Danger Chance advantage of 105-81, a 56.5% margin.
As good as Hellebuyck is, and as capable as he is of stealing a series, the Oilers have had his number this year. He is just 2-5 against Edmonton and his 3.96 goals against is more than a full goal higher than against his next closest opponent. He has just a .877 save percentage, his worst against any team.
While the Jets might still have the goaltending advantage, Smith is a lot closer than he is getting credit for. The veteran has been great for Edmonton this year, actually posting better numbers than Hellebuyck. Also, he is 4-0 against Winnipeg with a 2.06 GAA.
Obviously McDavid is unstoppable against any team, but he totaled an incredible 22 points in nine games against the Jets, the most against any opponent and his +14 +/- was double the next closest team.
Edmonton has won six straight games against Winnipeg and has been the better team all season. They have a better defense, better offense, better special teams and the best player on the planet. I like Edmonton to win Game 1 and to win this series.
Pick: Edmonton Oilers -148 in Game 1 and -167 to Win Series