NHL Betting Odds and Picks: Maple Leafs vs. Sabres, Bruins vs. Rangers and More (Sunday, Feb. 16 2020)

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Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Elvis Merzlikins

It’s an unusually busy Sunday in the NHL. Most Sundays feature just a handful of contests, but today’s card features nine games including including three nationally televised games on NBC and NBCSN starting at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Let’s jump in.


Odds via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.


The first game on the docket features the historically-bad Detroit Red Wings (+370) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (-500) on NBC. There’s not much to say other than Pittsburgh is perhaps the second-best team in the NHL behind Tampa Bay and the Red Wings are one of the worst teams we’ve seen in generations, but this number is laughably steep for an NHL game.

The listed odds imply Pittsburgh wins this game 79.7% of the time, so you’d just need Detroit to win this game about 20.5% of the time to show value. It’s a bet you lose more often than you win, but I’m taking a shot on Detroit at this number.

I rarely lay much juice in the NHL but if the number on the Boston Bruins (-140) finds its way down to -135, I may take a shot on the B’s at Madison Square Garden. The New York Rangers (+120) have won four games in a row and have improved their 5-on-5 metrics over the past few weeks, but the Bruins come into this game in terrific form and have the defense to stifle New York’s high-octane offense.

Over their last 10 games, the B’s boast a 61.3% expected goals rate and are allowing just 1.66 expected goals against per 60 minutes. Boston may be on a back-to-back, but this is the Rangers’ fourth game in six nights, so I’m not terribly concerned about any fatigue for Boston.

It’s not a great spot, but I think the number on the Edmonton Oilers (+190) is a little high. The Oilers are without Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian, but the Carolina Hurricanes (-230) have been struggling big time over the past month without Dougie Hamilton.

Since Hamilton went down, Carolina is allowing 2.8 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 and has a 48.8% expected goals rate in nine games.

I like the price on the Buffalo Sabres (+130) as home underdogs against the Toronto Maple Leafs (-155). Buffalo’s offense is anemic and if Jack Eichel doesn’t produce the Sabres don’t win (or score, for that matter), but Buffalo’s defense is does a great job at limiting scoring chances and may be able to handle Toronto’s high-flying offense.

Buffalo ranks fourth in the NHL this season in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) and is allowing just 1.95 xGA/60 over its last 10 games. The Sabres do struggle immensely going forward, but Toronto’s defense isn’t anything to write home about, so perhaps the Sabres can find a goal or two here.

Heatmap via Hockeyviz.com

The Winnipeg Jets (-145) own the worst expected goals rate in the NHL and are a team I look to fade when the opportunity arises. I wrote yesterday how I think the Chicago Blackhawks (+125) appear to be in decent form, so I’m happy to back them at this price despite being on a back-to-back.

Finally, I took a shot on the New Jersey Devils (+120) against the Columbus Blue Jackets (-140). The Jackets have been a real hoot this season but at some point, they should fall back down to earth considering they are missing their No. 1 defenseman and their rookie goaltender is running ridiculously hot. In other words, this price flatters the Jackets on the road.

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