NHL Betting Odds, Picks and Predictions: Wild vs. Blues, Penguins vs. Capitals and More (Feb. 23, 2020)

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Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jake Allen

  • With just one day until the trading deadline, Michael Leboff is here to offer some betting advice for a packed Sunday slate
  • Among the games discussed are Capitals-Penguins (12 ET) and Blues-Wild (7:30 ET).
  • See Leboff's full Sunday betting analysis below.

The NHL Trade Deadline is tomorrow, so that makes today like Christmas Eve for hockey fans.

Today’s action begins early, with a 12 p.m. ET showdown between the two teams tied atop the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins (+120) and the Washington Capitals (-140).

I do worry about Pittsburgh’s recent form. After dominating at 5-on-5 for much of the past two months, the Penguins have a 41.7% expected goals rate over their last 10 games and are allowing 2.79 expected goals against per 60 in that span.


Odds as of Monday at 5:20 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $500 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


The Caps aren’t so hot themselves, going 1-5-1 in their last seven games and 11-12-1 since the Christmas break. Washington has a 44.7% expected goals rate in its last dozen games, so something seems a bit off for the Caps.

Both of these teams have more than enough talent to beat their underlying metrics, but Pittsburgh has also spent much of the season as one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, something the Caps don’t have in their locker.

Even though these two teams are tied in the table, I would make the Penguins favorites on neutral ice. When you adjust these odds for home-ice advantage, you get Washington as a slight favorite. Thus, I see value on Pittsburgh down to +115.

The Chicago Blackhawks (+165) are a team built to win 5-4 hockey games. Chicago’s offense is front-loaded with talent, but the defense leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, the Blackhawks have one of the best goaltending tandems in the league, so they have enjoyed some modest success this season despite a 47.1% expected goals rate.

The Dallas Stars (-195) go about their business in a different way. The Stars a defense-first team that thrives in low-event games thanks to great structure and terrific goaltending.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

Chicago’s league-worst defense (in terms of expected goals against) is scary to bet on, but I do think there’s a bit of value on the Hawks in this matinee (3 p.m. ET). The Stars have been a little leaky over the past month, allowing 2.37 expected goals against per 60 minutes, and that could give Chicago a path to success in this game. The Hawks will need to win the goaltending battle, but they are one of the few teams in the NHL that can hang with Dallas in the blue paint.

The current odds suggest that Dallas wins this game 63.7% of the time, which is probably just a little high. It’s a bet you lose more often than you win, but I think the Blackhawks are worth a bet at +165 or higher.

I am back to fading the Winnipeg Jets (-110) today. Even though the Jets are in the playoff hunt and the Buffalo Sabres (-110) are decidedly not, these two teams are not that far apart.

Buffalo is the home team in a 50-50 game, which would means the Sabres would be around +113 against the Jets in a vacuum. That isn’t a huge number, but I think it exaggerates the gap between the Jets, who have the league’s worst expected goals rate, and the Sabres.

Most casual bettors would see the price on the St. Louis Blues (-115) and jump at the opportunity to bet them at a digestable price against a team 15 points behind them in the standings. However, the Blues are on the road, playing their sixth game in nine nights and could be missing their No. 1 defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo (not to mention Jay Bouwmeester and Tyler Bozak).

It’s not a great spot for the Blues and the Minnesota Wild (-105), despite their mediocrity in the standings, are the NHL’s best defensive team by expected goals against this season.

I think Minnesota wins this game more often than not and would play them up to -110.

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