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NHL Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Tuesday, Jan. 26, Including Islanders-Capitals and Red Wings-Stars

NHL Betting Picks: Our Favorite Bets for Tuesday, Jan. 26, Including Islanders-Capitals and Red Wings-Stars article feature image

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Khudobin

It’s going to be a busy Tuesday night on the ice with 13 games on the docket, beginning at 7 p.m. ET and wrapping up with a slew of 9 p.m. puck drops out West.

A slate this deep will provide you with ample betting opportunities, but we’ve narrowed it down to our four favorite bets below.

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Pete Truszkowski: Isles-Caps Under 5.5 Goals

  • Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

The style of hockey the Islanders like to play lends itself to close, low-event games. In an ideal world, Barry Trotz’s team wins games 2-1 or 3-2.

The Isles have held true to form to start the season. Through their first five games the Islanders and their opponents have combined for just 17 total goals. The Islanders have shut-out their opponent twice, and they’ve been shut-out twice themselves.

The Isles excel at limiting High-Danger Chances Against (HDCA). New York is allowing just 6.1 HDCAs per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 this season. In fact, the Isles have yet to allow more than six High-Danger Chances (HDC) at 5-on-5 in a single game this season.

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.

While their defense has been sturdy, the Islanders offense has been unreliable. They are averaging a league-low 1.8 goals per game despite the fact that they are 3-2-0 to start the season.

Things may get worse for the Isles attack as second-line winger Anthony Beauvillier left their game on Sunday with an injury. The Islanders are not a team built to withstand injury to their top six as their third line is basically a blackhole with players like Ross Johnston and Michael Dal Colle getting minutes.

On the other side of this matchup are the Washington Capitals, who surprisingly rank dead last in the NHL in expected goals for this season.

Usually, Washington has the elite talent to overperform their metrics. However, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov are amongst the Capitals players who will be forced to miss this game due to Covid-protocols. In addition to Ovechkin and Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson missed Sunday’s game due to injury. His status for Tuesday’s contest is unknown.

A date with the Islanders is not ideal for a short-handed, struggling offense.

The underlying metrics point to a low-scoring game on Tuesday and with the injuries and absences on both sides, I think offense will be at a premium in this contest.

Michael Leboff: Red Wings (+170) vs. Stars

  • Puck Drop: 8:30 p.m. ET

Look, I’m not going to try and convince anybody that betting the Red Wings against last year’s runners up is going to be fun. In fact, I think it’ll be the opposite. Even if the Red Wings do pull off the upset, it’ll likely be a roller coaster of emotion to get to the window and there will be plenty of times where you’ll want off the ride.

That said, I think this number is too good to pass up against an already offensively-challenged team that will be missing at least one — but possibly two of its best forwards on Tuesday night.

The Dallas Stars have played only two games in 2021. Both were wins but they also both showed why I’m a little skeptical that Big D will be successful this season. In their victories over Nashville, the Stars scored 10 goals. Eight of them came on the power play.

At 5-on-5 the Stars offense was basically non-existent, scoring 0.72 goals and creating 1.69 expected goals per 60 minutes. Those numbers will certainly tick up as the season goes on, but nobody would confuse the Stars with an offensive juggernaut. Only the Red Wings averaged fewer goals per 60 at 5-on-5 than the Stars did last season.

The numbers for the Red Wings are ugly. Detroit is 30th in expected goals rate, 29th in shot share and dead-last in goal differential per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. They just lost two games in a row to the lowly Chicago Blackhawks. Five players are questionable due to COVID protocols. It’s a big ask for Detroit to hang with the Stars, but I don’t think the odds should be this wide.

Despite scoring 10 goals in their first two games, the Stars do not profile as a team that will post a crooked number on most nights. That gives Detroit a chance to hang around, which should lead to some value on this number. At +170, the Red Wings have an implied win probability of 37%. Detroit is bad, but it is better than that.

Matt Russell: Flames (-105) vs. Maple Leafs

  • Puck Drop: 9 p.m. ET

The Maple Leafs had good news in Sunday’s game against the Flames, with Auston Matthews back in the lineup.

Early on, the Leafs got goals from Jake Muzzin and Wayne Simmonds, and Flames backers had to think “Oh, so Matthews returns and these guys are the ones who score to beat me?”

Then with the Maple Leafs up 2-1 in the third period, Matthews struck and we saw the big difference he made en route to Toronto winning its second game in a row.

The Maple Leafs tallied 12 HDC, but also gave up 12 of their own. That is actually the most Toronto game imaginable — give up a ton, get a ton and see where that gets you. Each team converted one of those chances, as well as one on the power play. So it was one goal, from not-renowned sniper Muzzin, that was the difference.

Don’t be fooled, the Leafs are still right around the league-average team that my “Let’s Do That Hockey” model from THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast says they are. The team that every recent season-long result would indicate.  Nothing happened Sunday that would give the analytics any reason to look at them differently.

The Maple Leafs’ victory was evenly played, with the Flames acquitting themselves nicely in their return to action after the long layoff. The effort was good enough for a 54 percent Expected Goals Share 5-on-5.

Both teams were one for four on the power play, and 1 for 12 in the aforementioned HDC. Whether it was the PK-adjacent line before the game or the metrics suggesting it in hindsight, this game couldn’t have been more of a coin flip.

My model still has the Flames as a 10% above-average team, so it thinks they should be favored here in the rematch. And that’s before factoring in the revenge tax my model makes between 8-9% of win probability.

One reason Toronto is getting more credit in the market could be due to the return of goaltender Frederik Andersen after Jack Campbell was in goal for Sunday’s win. However, that’s not necessarily an upgrade at this point in the season, with Andersen at -1.03 GSAA, compared to Campbell’s +0.92 through just two starts.

This is a tremendous spot for Calgary, which is currently -105 in the market. I would have expected the Flames to be at least -120 here, before accounting for the revenge spot that seems to need to be accounted for.

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Jeremy Pond: Avalanche -1.5 (+108) vs. Sharks

  • Puck Drop: 9 p.m. ET

Things should heat up in the Denver cold for this evening’s North Division showdown between the Colorado Avalanche and visiting San Jose Sharks.

Both teams enter this affair featuring identical 3-3 records, with the Sharks looking to make it two wins in a row following Sunday’s 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild. On the other side, the host Avalanche hope they can rebound from their 3-1 setback against the Anaheim Ducks.

Historically, San Jose has not had the best of luck in getting results in Colorado as of late. That is clear and obvious via its 2-5 record over its last seven games playing at Ball Arena.

As for the Avalanche, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon lead the balanced offense that’s featured eight different goal scorers. Defensively, Colorado has been locked in and shut down north of 86 percent of the oppositions’ power-play opportunities this season.

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When looking at the advanced metrics, Colorado carries an overall edge into this contest when matching up with San Jose’s figures in Fenwick statistics.

The Avalanche sit on a respectable 40.12 FF/60 and impressive 33.85 FA/60 for a +6.27 differential. In contrast, the Sharks boast a mixed bag of stats via their 42.05 FF/60 and 43.83 FA/60 for a subpar -1.78 differential.

As for the xGF/xGA comparison through 60 minutes , Colorado averages 2.36 xGF/60 to 0.9 xGA/60 for a +1.46 differential. Meanwhile, San Jose is well off its opponent in both categories, sitting on 1.98 xGF/60 and 2.56 xGA/60 for a -0.58 differential.

That said, I am backing Colorado to not only win, but cover the 1.5-goal spread at plus money in this “Mile High” showdown. The Avalanche have more firepower than the Sharks and their defense is far superior, plus they’ve yet to lose two games in a row this season.

San Jose, which is 3-8 in its last 11 road contests, has get to win consecutive games as well, which gives me even more confidence in this play.

Throw in the fact Colorado has the NHL’s ninth-best shot differential and San Jose’s goaltending staff is one of the worst across the entire league, and I like my chances in this spot.

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