NHL Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Tuesday, Jan. 19, Including Red Wings-Blue Jackets & Blackhawks-Panthers
SUNRISE, FL – JANUARY 17: Radko Gudas #7 of the Florida Panthers checks Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks in front of Goaltender Chris Driedger #60 during second period action at the BB&T Center on January 17, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Radko Gudas;Chris Driedger;Andrew Shaw
The NHL season is not yet a week old, but it’s already been quite a rollercoaster.
There have been some big upsets, some late-game drama and, of course, bets that have gone up in smoke, thanks to some awful luck.
The fun continues Tuesday night with an eight-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET. These are our favorite bets:
Pete Truszkowski: Panthers-Blackhawks Over 6.5 (-105)
The Chicago Blackhawks have allowed 15 goals through their first three games this season. I wish I could say to expect their defense to improve, but I can’t make that case.
Chicago finished last in the NHL in expected goals against per 60 minutes in 2019/20, but they stayed afloat thanks to high-end goaltending from Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford, who somehow kept their goals against numbers around league average.
Unfortunately, Lehner is now playing for Vegas and Crawford is retired. The crease now belongs to Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia, neither of whom have proven to be a reliable NHL starter.
Through two starts, Colin Delia has a -4.92 Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx). In Malcolm Subban’s lone start, he posted a -1.66 GSAx. Not only is the defense porous, the goaltending is costing them over two goals a game on average this season.
Florida has their own question marks to answer as this is expected to be the season debut for Sergei Bobrovsky. After signing a massive deal in the summer of 2019, Bobrovsky fell flat on his face during his first season in the Sunshine State and finished in the bottom-10 in GSAx.
While Bobrovsky has an impressive resume that includes two Vezina Trophies, it’s fair to be skeptical after his first season in Florida. When on his game, Bobrovsky is great. However, if we see the Bobrovsky from last season, the Panthers are in trouble.
There’s also plenty of offensive talent on display in this matchup. Florida’s top-six is headlined by Jonathan Huberdeau, Alex Barkov and Patric Hornqvist, while Patrick Kane leads a young, but talented crop of forwards for Chicago which includes Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik.
This game has all the right ingredients for some crooked numbers.
Michael Leboff: Red Wings (+150) vs. Blue Jackets
The Detroit Red Wings are 1-2 to start the season but they look like a much improved bunch from the historically bad team we saw wearing the Winged Wheel in 2019/20.
After upsetting the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, the Wings fell in a hard-luck loss to the Blue Jackets on Monday afternoon. Despite the loss, Detroit did a great job driving play against Columbus. The Red Wings had a 9-5 advantage in high-danger scoring chances and won the expected goals battle, 2.27 to 1.33, at 5-on-5. Joonas Korpisalo was gigantic in goal for the Blue Jackets and proved to be the difference as Detroit couldn’t turn its possession numbers into a win.
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.
I never mind fading the Blue Jackets when they are favorites. Columbus doesn’t have enough game-breaking talent on offense to run away from teams, so the Jackets instead rely on their defensive structure to grind out low-event wins. That’s what we saw on Monday afternoon as the Jackets were able to outlast Detroit.
I thought the Red Wings were good value on Monday afternoon when they closed as +150 underdogs so there’s no reason not to go back to Detroit again on Tuesday. It’s a bet you lose more often than you win, but that doesn’t mean it is a bad play.
Matt Russell: Red Wings (+150) vs. Blue Jackets
If you’re willing to rely on the Blue Jackets to convert at outrageous levels again, feel free to lay the big price on a Columbus team that the market has rated at slightly above average. The number is pricing the Red Wings as a terrible team but so far, the numbers indicate they’re merely “not good.”
Even with the Blue Jackets rated 10% above average thanks to an outlier High Danger Chance conversion rate and the Red Wings rating 10% below average, that still only adds up to make Columbus no more than a -140 favorite.
It’s the fourth true back-to-back rematch of the season in the NHL, with no day off in between.
The Oilers bounced back after losing to the Canucks last week, with a 13.9% increase in win probability from first matchup to rematch, according to my model. The Sabres had a small dip in their win probability in their two games against the Capitals, but Buffalo actually was the better team 5-on-5 in both games, even though they actually lost each time. Then the Toronto Maple Leafs increased their win probability 36.1% on the second half of a back-to-back against the Senators.
We’re all over the map here and are going to need more information, but I’d lean to what the math has shown us, as well as the eye test, of an improved effort in Game 2 by the loser of the first.
Even without building in anything mathematically, the model still says Detroit has value. The Red Wings were able to win the second game against Carolina, and I’ll take them at significant value to beat the Blue Jackets.
Jeremy Pond: Avalanche To Win in Regulation (-137)
Things could become pretty electric at Staples Center when Colorado battles hard-luck Los Angeles in this West Division showdown.
The Avalanche (1-1) have to be rolling into this game with all sorts of confidence after their 8-0 home thrashing of St. Louis on Friday at Ball Arena. Nathan MacKinnon led the way with three points for Colorado, which scored goals on an absurd six of seven power-play opportunities in the rout.
In contrast, the winless Kings (0-0-2) carried 3-1 leads into the third period against the Minnesota Wild, only to suffer identical, 4-3 overtime defeats.
When it comes to the numbers, Los Angeles actually has the slightest advantage over Colorado in the Fenwick advanced metrics, which is definitely surprising considering how they’ve started their respective campaigns.
The Kings sit on 41.9 FF/60 to 43.62 FA/60 for a-1.72 differential, which is better than the Avalanche (31.68 FF/60 to 33.45 FA/60 for a -1.77 differential) in the category.
However, Colorado holds a 46.12 — 40.92 edge in expected goals for percentage that results in a +5.20 xGF advantage for the visiting side. Then throw in the fact the Avalanche maintain a wide 1.76 xGA/60 to 2.78 xGA/60 margin, and you have a game with the potential to be a complete mismatch.
That said, I am backing Colorado to win in regulation at -137 odds. The straight moneyline play on the Avalanche is not worth touching, with it drifting all the way to -225 as of publication. My feeling is that number is going to move even further in the Colorado’s direction, so stay away from the ML altogether.
The Avalanche, who are 4-1 in their last five contests coming off a two-day break, are 12-4 in their last 16 games as a road favorite. When you put those key historical trends together, you have to feel confident in this wager.