NHL Betting Odds & Picks: Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets, Wild vs. Stars, More (Friday, Feb. 7, 2020)

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Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Alex Kerfoot

A sense of dread came over me when I took a peak at the NHL slate for Friday night.

There are just four games, but all of them feature a sizable road underdog playing on the second night of a back-to-back. In fact, the terrible Buffalo Sabres (+150) are the shortest pooch on the card in their game at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.

Like I said, dread.

Theatrics aside, I do think there are a couple of teams with value tonight.


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Let’s just get this one out of the way. The price on the Columbus Blue Jackets (-350) is too high and may only get higher. That’s because the Blue Jackets are 18-2-5 in their last 25 games are taking on the NHL’s worst team on Friday night.

It may be hard to imagine a path to success for the Detroit Red Wings (+270) against the red-hot Blue Jackets, but the truth is that Columbus has been punching above its weight over the past dozen games. The Blue Jackets have been caved in at 5-on-5 over the past month, posting a 43.8% expected goals rate in their last 12 contests.

At some point, Columbus should start to come back down to earth.

The Jackets are still winning games thanks to their unsustainably-hot goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, who has a +9.5 Goals Saved Above Expectations (GSAx) in his last nine starts. That is a ridiculous stretch for a goaltender and it would be shocking if the young Latvian continues to play at, or even near, that level going forward.

You’d need Detroit to win this game roughly 26% of the time to start to have value and I think the Wings tick that box. I’m going to wait and see if this line keeps climbing, but +270 is already pretty hard to pass up.

Despite playing on a back-to-back, the Minnesota Wild (+165) look like they could be worth a shot on the road against the Dallas Stars (-195). Both of these teams play similar, defense-first styles of hockey, so I’d expect this to be a low-event game where a lucky bounce here or there could swing the game.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

Despite being nine points apart in the standings, there really isn’t all that much between Dallas and Minnesota. The main difference is that Dallas has one of the league’s best goaltending tandems while Minnesota has arguably the worst 1-2 punch in the NHL. Other than that, these two teams have a strikingly similar profile, including a nearly identical expected goals rate.

The Wild are in a tough schedule spot and will need their goaltending to hold up, but this number is good enough to take a shot.

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ only.]

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