Saturday NHL Odds & Betting Picks: Bruins-Islanders, Canucks-Maple Leafs, More (Feb. 29)

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Credit: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Jordan Binnington

  • Michael Leboff breaks down Saturday's NHL odds and gives his betting picks for the 12-game slate, which begins at 1 p.m. ET with Bruins at Islanders.
  • He's also targeting a few underdogs going up against porous defensive teams.
  • Get Leboff's picks below with EDGE.

Saturday’s 12-game NHL slate kicks off with a 1 p.m. ET showdown at Nassau Coliseum between the league-leading Boston Bruins (-145) and the New York Islanders (+125).

Boston comes into this game in great form, with a 16-6-3 with a 55.8% expected goals rate over its last 25 games. As usual, the Bruins’ defense is the story. The B’s lead the NHL in goals allowed per 60 minutes (GA/60) at 5-on-5 and their underlying metrics are just as strong with a 1.99 expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) this season.

The Isles don’t have the same kind of statistical portfolio as Boston does, but they have shown glimpses over the past week of a team about to round into form.

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Barry Trotz’s team has had to deal with injuries all over the lineup, but the Isles are beginning to get some bodies back. The Isles’ entire system depends on being able to roll four lines and six defensemen. Despite being forced to play a bottom-six with very few NHL-caliber players, Trotz’s Islanders were able to post a 50% expected goals rate over the past month.

I think the Islanders are a decent bet at +125. The listed odds imply that Boston wins this game 57.1% of the time. That means when you adjust for home-ice advantage (~4.9% in the NHL), you’d get Boston as roughly -170 favorites on neutral ice. I don’t think the gap between these two teams is that wide.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

The Florida Panthers (-165) dropped a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, putting them in a deep hole in their chase for the playoffs. The loss to the Leafs was the latest in a long line of disappointing results for the Cats, who are 4-6 with a 45.7% expected goals rate in their last 10 games.

The Chicago Blackhawks (+140) have just three wins in their last 10 games and their 47% expected goals rate in that span won’t knock you off your chair, but I’m skeptical of Florida and don’t think there’s much that separates these two teams. I’d play Chicago all the way down to +130.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

I’m fading the Carolina Hurricanes (+105) again on Saturday night. Carolina’s been a mess defensively for a while now and that spells a lot of trouble considering the Canes are missing their No. 1 and No. 2 goaltender. A struggling defense playing in front of a third-string goalie is not a recipe for success and the Montreal Canadiens (-125) are the type of team that is built to take advantage of defensive deficiencies:

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

Not only are the Canes banged up, but they are on the road and playing on a back-to-back. I think Montreal -125 is a fine bet.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

I also played the Vancouver Canucks (+155) on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs (-180). The Leafs already struggle defensively, so losing defenseman Jake Muzzin, the team’s top defensive-defenseman, was a big blow — especially since Toronto was already missing Morgan Rielly.

The Canucks don’t have great 5-on-5 numbers but there is plenty of offensive firepower on this roster and that should be enough to give the Canucks some value against this patch-work defense.

[Bet now at FanDuel. NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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