NHL Daily Odds & Picks (Saturday, April 17): 4 Best Bets for Blues vs. Coyotes, Blue Jackets vs. Stars, More
Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington.
- We have another loaded slate of NHL games taking place Saturday across North American ice.
- Check out the best bets from our Action Network hockey analysts below, including Blues vs. Coyotes and Predators vs. Hurricanes.
We have another stacked slate of games on Saturday’s NHL schedule, with 11 games taking place on North American ice.
The day gets off to a fast start at 12:30 p.m. ET when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Washington Capitals. Everything culminates with two 8 p.m. ET meetings, featuring the San Jose Sharks vs. Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Dallas Stars.
Let’s take a look at who our Action Network hockey analysts have targeted with their best bets on the loaded card.
Mike Ianniello: Washington Capitals ML (-137) vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Puck Drop: 12:30 p.m. ET
The Washington Capitals pace the East Division with a 28-12-4 record and 60 points, two ahead of the New York Islanders. The Flyers find themselves unexpectedly in sixth place and sliding further away from their playoff hopes.
The Capitals are coming off a dud performance, where they suffered a 5-2 loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Prior to that game, Washington ran away with a 6-1 victory over the Flyers, getting goals from six different skaters, and moved to 4-1 against Philadelphia on the season.
The Capitals made a bit of a surprising move at the trade deadline, sending Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik and some draft picks to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Anthony Mantha. Well, the move has looked great so far, as Mantha has tallied a goal in each of his first two games with Washington.
Mantha slots in perfectly on the second line, alongside another consistent 20-goal scorer in T.J. Oshie, and centered by elite playmaker Nicklas Backstrom.
The Capitals have been terrific offensively all season, averaging 3.45 goals per game, which is second in the NHL. They also rank second with a 26.7 power-play percentage. That is a tough task for a Flyers team that ranks 30th in goals allowed per game and 29th in penalty kill percentage.
Washington will never blow you away with its analytics, ranking just 23rd in High-Danger Scoring Chances for, but its fourth in the league in High-Danger Shooting percentage, turning 21.3% of their HDCF into goals. When you have guys like Alex Ovechkin, you don’t need many chances to find the back of the net. Ovechkin has scored a goal in all five games against the Flyers this season.
Washington is a much better team than Philadelphia this season, and I always love betting on a good team, coming off a bad loss. I will back the Capitals at -135 and would take them to -145 odds.
Pete Truszkowski: St. Louis Blues ML (-132) vs. Arizona Coyotes
Puck Drop: 6 p.m. ET
The Coyotes sit just one point behind the Blues and below the playoff cut-off line, but things aren’t trending in a positive direction for the club. Arizona has lost five consecutive games, with its season hanging in the balance if it can’t right the ship.
The Coyotes’ analytical profile is nothing to write home about. They sit 22nd in expected-goal rate with a 47.2% mark. They’re also 25th in both shot attempt rate and HDC percentage. Arizona is in the bottom third of the league in both expected-goals scored per hour at 5-on-5 and expected-goals against.
Offense doesn’t come easy for the Coyotes, as they rank 23rd in goals per game. The team lacks a true game-changing superstar. Players like Phil Kessel, Conor Garland, Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller are solid players, but they don’t match up to the elite talent most teams possess. Arizona also has just four goals combined in their last three games.
In the past, the Coyotes have been a team that did a good job of slowing the opposition down and limiting opponents’ chances. However, that hasn’t been the case this season. Arizona has given up the eighth-most goals in its league. Jacob Chycrun has developed into a force offensively, but the usual shutdown style of the Coyotes hasn’t been on display this season.
A lot of the reason for that has been the goaltending. Darcy Kuemper has played just one complete game since Feb. 22, and he just suffered another setback. In his place, the duo of Adin Hill and Antti Raanta have combined for a GSAx mark of -5.9. Arizona doesn’t have the offensive capability to overcome subpar goaltending, and it’s been asked to do that a lot this season.
Many view the Blues as potential sleeping giants, who are just coasting through the regular season getting ready to turn it up in the playoffs. Part of the reason the Blues have looked mediocre is because they’ve dealt with a fair share of injuries to important players. Players such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Colton Parayko have missed extended time. Outside of Robert Thomas, the Blues should be healthy for this contest.
Offensively, the Blues have been led by David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, who are both producing near a point-per-game pace. Vladimir Tarasenko has six points in his last eight games, as he begins to settle into the season after missing the first few months.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
A positive note for St. Louis lately has been the play of goaltender Jordan Binnington. Binnington leads all goalies in the month of April with a goals saved above expectation (GSAx) mark of +5.31. Binnington is a cult hero among Blues fans for his role in their magical Stanley Cup run in 2019, and the teams needs that version of him down the stretch.
I expect St. Louis to be in the playoffs when all is said and done, and with its tough schedule down the stretch, that means it needs to stockpile wins against some of the lesser teams like Arizona.
The Blues have more elite talent, deeper forward group, better team defense and a goaltender currently playing very well. Arizona, which has lost five consecutive games, is spiraling at a bad time. The Blues haven’t been a fun team to bet this season, but I continue to put my faith in them.
Matt Russell: Nashville Predators ML (+160) vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET
Coming into Raleigh on Thursday, the Predators were 13-3 in their last 16 games and had leapt into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division.
In my “Let’s Do That Hockey” Model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, Nashville had reversed its even-strength rating from negative to positive relative to the average of the rest of the teams in its division.
My model’s current rating of the Predators still has them just slightly above average at even-strength for the season, but slowly rising close to 5% above average for this extended stretch. They have finally found the level that was expected of them before the season, as a team expected to make the playoffs.
From a narrative standpoint, the increase in winning is only going to provide belief and their place in the standings is the reward as they create momentum with the regular season nearing a close.
Carolina’s 4-1 win over Nashville was a different brand of hockey, as in the previous five games the teams would combine for more than 20 High-Danger Chances at even-strength. With a near-even split of 11 High-Danger Chances, Thursday’s game was played at the Predators’ pace.
My model gives Carolina a 57% chance to win this game, which translates to a true moneyline of NSH +132/CAR -132. The projected price for the Hurricanes isn’t much different than the closing number on Thursday, and I think that’s a mistake due to them winning the game.
With a likely underdog price of better than +150, it’s worth betting on the Predators to score a split.
Nicholas Martin: Dallas Stars ML (-186) vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Puck Drop: 8 p.m. ET
While it’s certainly a little lame to write back-to-back pieces on the same big favorite, I feel very comfortable with the Stars chances to claim another two points they desperately need against the Blue Jackets.
Columbus showed they will continue to compete while being essentially eliminated from the playoff race again Thursday. The Blue Jackets made the Stars work for the much needed two points, controlling play in the first period and earning a 1-0 lead.
However, Dallas gradually took over the game bit by bit, finishing with a dominant third period on on their way to a 4-1 victory.
I have really liked what I’ve seen of Dallas so far this week, even if it has only earned a 1-0-2 record with tough losses to red-hot Nashville and a very strong Florida team past regulation. The Stars have skated to an xGF% of 55.44 over the three games, and have played with a ton of urgency as they look to push their way in to the Central Division’s final playoff spot.
The Blue Jackets definitely still have a lot of guys on the roster with plenty to play for this season, but I just feel with how weak the remaining group is after the Werenski and Savard losses on the back end it will be very hard for them to hang in most nights from here on out. Not that they have controlled much of the play so far, as the Blue Jackets already sit last in xGF% this season.
I think this is a good spot to back a Dallas team in strong form to claim two more points it desperately needs off one of the league’s weaker clubs.
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