Tuesday NHL Betting Odds & Picks: Rangers vs. Islanders, Stars vs. Hurricanes, More (Feb. 25, 2020)
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek
- Need NHL picks with updated betting odds for Tuesday night's slate? Michael Leboff covers the games, and particularly the underdogs, he's most interested in betting.
- The Winnipeg Jets have been much better in play-driving as of late, while the Washington Capitals have faltered. Meanwhile, the New York Rangers might be without some key pieces against the new-look New York Islanders.
- Get Leboff's NHL picks below.
One thing to keep in mind as the regular season winds down is that the post-deadline NHL is a different beast compared to the pre-deadline NHL. For most of the season, underdogs are the lifeblood for hockey bettors.
In a sport as random and nonsensical as the NHL, any team can win on any given night and finding the right pooches to bet on will make or break your season.
After the deadline, you must tread more carefully. It makes a lot of sense, if you think about the nature of the trade market. During the trade period, bad teams send a lot of good players to better teams. That weakens the bad teams further and improves the good teams more. All of a sudden, the talent gap is wider.
Additionally, when a team begins selling off players at the deadline, it sends a message to the guys still in the room. There’s still a lot to play for — performance bonuses, future contracts, etc. — but waving the white flag doesn’t do a lot to inspire a roster to give it their all night in and night out in such a grueling sport.
That doesn’t mean you should lay the chalk from here on out; that will get you in trouble very quickly. But it does mean perhaps dialing back the volume and taking fewer risks on the bottom-dwellers.
With that in mind, let’s dive into Tuesday’s action, which features 13 games:
Tuesday NHL Odds & Picks
The Carolina Hurricanes (-110) are in a funky spot against the Dallas Stars (-110). The Canes famously needed to use an emergency backup goaltender on Saturday night against the Leafs, a game Carolina improbably won, 6-3. It’s a great story, but now the Hurricanes are forced to use No. 3 goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic against the Stars.
Normally, I wouldn’t be all that concerned, especially against an offensively-challenged team like the Stars, but the Hurricanes have really struggled defensively for the past month — allowing 2.77 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 in that span. Things won’t get any easier for the Canes, who were already without top defenseman Dougie Hamilton, as Brett Pesce is also going to miss time with an injury.
Former Ranger Brady Skjei should provide some relief, but this is his first game in a new system and he isn’t all that adept defensively, anyway.
Carolina’s offense is still rolling, averaging 2.76 xGF/60, but Dallas has one of the best defenses in the NHL, so I think there’s reason to believe the Stars should be favorites in this game and I like them at -115 or better.
As a die-hard New York Islander (-140) fan, nothing would pain me more than for the Isles to lose to their hated rivals, the New York Rangers (+120) at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night. That being said, when the number against the Isles is right, I play it.
I think this number is still too short on the Rangers, who could be without Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich and will be missing goaltender Igor Shesterkin. The Rangers’ defense has been better lately, but moving Skjei to Carolina dings the unit a bit and forces a bigger role on players like Marc Staal and Brendan Smith.
There’s too much volatility in this game to get involved at these prices, though if the Isles get below -130 and Kreider and Buchnevich are out, I’ll think harder about it.
The Toronto Maple Leafs (+155) are doing everything in their power to screw up a once-promising season and things won’t get easier tonight with a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning (-180) at Amalie Arena.
The Leafs play a boom-or-bust offensive style and haven’t shown the ability to consistently adapt to different game environments. Tampa, on the other hand, can beat you any which way it chooses. Not only do the Bolts have a prolific offense, but they also have one of the league’s best defenses and a great goaltender.
These odds suggest Toronto has just under a 38% chance of taking the points in Tampa tonight and I’m not here to argue against that.
The Winnipeg Jets (+165) have the worst expected goals rate in the NHL this season at 42.8%. That’s not a ringing endorsement for a bet on Winnipeg, but the Jets have marginally improved their 5-on-5 metrics over their last 12 games. They’re still not good, but better.
Either way, I like the price on the Jets against the Washington Capitals (-195). The Caps have spent almost the entire season atop the Metropolitan Division but they have some serious flaws and they’re beginning to show some cracks. Over its last 12 games, Washington has a 44.7% expected goals rate, which puts the Caps on par with teams like Ottawa, Anaheim and New Jersey.
Now is as good a time as any to fade the Caps, so I’ll take a chance with Winnipeg at +165 or better.
The Chicago Blackhawks (+170) are also in range against the stalwart St. Louis Blues (-200). The Hawks traded away goaltender Robin Lehner and defenseman Erik Gustafsson at the deadline and haven’t been in the best form lately, but I think this number is too high.
Does St. Louis win this game more often than not? Sure. Does it win it 64.3% (the implied probability of the listed odds) of the time? I don’t think it does.