Saturday NHL Betting Odds and Picks: Wild vs. Bruins, Oilers vs. Flames and More (Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020)

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Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images.

The Super Bowl isn’t until tomorrow. Today is for hockey.

There are 14 games on the docket for Saturday, including another installment of the Battle of Alberta and a huge showdown between Vegas and Nashville in Tennessee.

But first, we should start with a meeting between two of the NHL’s stingiest defenses — Boston and Minnesota.

Boston Bruins vs. Minnesota Wild

  • Bruins odds: -135
  • Wild odds: +115
  • Over/Under: 5.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

The Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild have emerged as two of the NHL’s preeminent defensive teams over the past few seasons. The Bruins and Wild live by a similar defense-first philosophy, though that style has treated one of them much better than the other over the years.


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Despite similarly strong metrics, these two teams are tied for the league lead with a 1.99 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, nobody would argue that the Boston Bruins are a much stronger team than the Minnesota Wild. That’s because Boston has more high-end talent and better goaltenders.

If the Wild’s goaltenders played at the level that Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask play at for the Bruins, Minnesota would be a playoff team. Alas, that isn’t the case and the Wild are clinging to slim playoff hopes.

Heatmap via HockeyViz.com

This projects to be a low-event game between two teams that excel at keeping opponents out of the danger areas. A lucky bounce here or a big save there will likely determine who walks out of The Xcel Energy Center with two points. Thus, I think this game is probably a little closer to a coin flip than the odds imply, especially with Minnesota at home.

The listed odds imply that Minnesota wins this game 44.7% of the time, which would make the Bruins in the -162 range on neutral ice. Boston is surely the better team and is a deserved favorite on Saturday, but I think the market is still slightly low on the Wild, even after some line movement towards the home team.

Over the long run, Boston’s talent and goaltending would win out, but in a one-game sample size I’ll take +115 or better on Minnesota.

Around the League

The Buffalo Sabres closed as even-money home underdogs against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Tonight, the Sabres are -105 at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets (-115). I think the Blue Jackets are a stronger team than Montreal, so I played Columbus at -110 when this market opened. I still would play Columbus at -115 on Saturday.

Speaking of the Montreal Canadiens (-115), I think they are a good price against the Florida Panthers (-105) on Saturday afternoon.

In all likelihood, I’ll be playing the Ottawa Senators (+220) as big underdogs against the Toronto Maple Leafs (-280). The Sens are on the road and on the second night of a back-to-back, but I think this number will eventually climb to the point where it’s in range for a bet. There are already some +240’s on Ottawa in the market, but I’m going to wait it out and see if the Sens hit +250 before jumping in.

The Battle of Alberta was the talk of the hockey world on Wednesday night and we get another installment of the Edmonton Oilers (+140) vs. the Calgary Flames (-165) on Saturday night. The Oilers closed as -125 home favorites a few nights ago, so we should have a pretty good idea on where this line should be tonight, since not much has changed between Thursday and tonight, although the Oilers are playing for the second night in a row.

At -125, the Oilers had an implied probability of 53.3% against Calgary on Wednesday. Saturday’s current odds imply Edmonton has a 40.1% chance of winning against Calgary. Home-ice advantage is worth 4.9% in the NHL, so this seems like an over-adjustment, even if Calgary is in a better schedule spot. I played the Oilers at +140 and would go down to +135.

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