NHL Odds and Picks (Sunday, August 2): Betting Predictions for Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes

Credit:

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Taylor Hall

  • Betting odds for Sunday's Predators vs. Coyotes game have the Predators listed as -127 favorites and the Coyotes at +110, with the total set at 5.5.
  • Below is a full betting preview of each team, along with analysis on how they match up.
  • Check out how Michael Leboff is betting the game as the market adjusts with new odds.

Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes Odds

Coyotes Odds +110 [BET NOW]
Predators Odds -127 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5.5 (+104/-125) [BET NOW]
Time Sunday, 2 p.m. ET
TV USA

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What happened to the Arizona Coyotes over the past fortnight is certainly bizarre. The team and general manager John Chayka acrimoniously parted ways just before the Coyotes traveled to Edmonton for their Stanley Cup journey, igniting a press-release war between ownership and Chayka.

There’s already so many unknowns heading into this tournament and Arizona’s situation just got murkier. That being said, I’m not downgrading the Coyotes’ chances in this series because their GM quit on them (their words, not mine). Off-ice shenanigans are impossible to quantify, so why even try.

Things are a lot more ordinary for the Predators, who check in as -139 favorites to win the series and -124 in Game 1.

Nashville Predators

There are some genuinely good pieces all over Nashville’s roster, but the stars of the show are Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis.

Josi and Ellis give the Predators the best defense pairing in the NHL, and when the two of them played together the Preds had a 58% expected goals rate. In other words, when those two are on the ice, Nashville plays like an elite NHL team.


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.


The short series and four-month break could give John Hynes the luxury of unleashing Josi and Ellis every night. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Preds’ No. 1 pair plays close to 30 minutes a night, especially considering the rest of Nashville’s defense is a bit wanting.

Mattias Ekholm gives Nashville a decent No. 3 rearguard, but there’s a significant drop after him. That shouldn’t be a huge deal considering Arizona’s offense lacks bite at 2.33 expected goals per 60 minutes, but if either Josi or Ellis aren’t in good form or one of them gets hurt, it will become a problem.

Nashville’s offense is much more balanced than its defense, but there’s no game-breaking talent up top like there is on the blueline. The Preds have a decent top six but the strength of their offense is the fact that Hynes can rely on all four lines to do their job.

The Predators also rate out pretty well in goal but John Hynes has a decision to make. Most casual hockey fans are familiar with Pekka Rinne, the longtime starter in Nashville, but Rinne was outplayed down the stretch by his heir apparent, Juuse Saros.

Goaltending is incredibly tough to project already and the four-month hiatus will only amplify that, but if you’re going off of most recent form, Saros gives Nashville a better chance to win as the 25-year-old Finn posted a league-high +13.19 Goals Saved Above Expectations (GSAx) from Jan. 1 through the end of the truncated regular season.

Whoever ends up in goal will have the enviable task of keeping pace with Darcy Kuemper, one of the NHL’s best goaltenders.


Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) is an advanced statistic that measures a goaltender’s performance against the quality of scoring chances he faced. It is a better catch-all metric compared to save percentage because every SV% counts every saved shot and goal the same, while GSAx weights shots by the quality of the scoring chance.

GSAx numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.


Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes made one of the biggest in-season splashes by acquiring 2017-18 MVP Taylor Hall from the New Jersey Devils in December.

Hall’s arrival was supposed to serve as a catapult to launch Arizona into the contender conversation in the Western Conference but the Yotes never really put things together, even with Hall in the fold.

From a high-level, the make-up of Arizona’s offense isn’t too far off from Nashville’s. There are some quality forwards who can have positive impacts, but there was still a lack of oomph from the Coyotes during the regular season.

There is the possibility that Arizona’s offense clicks in this tournament as there are pieces here that can make things happen. Christian Dvorak, Conor Garland and Clayton Keller all bring something snazzy to the table, and Phil Kessel, in the right environment, is still a threat to score anytime he’s on the ice.

Things are even more middle-of-the-road on defense for the Coyotes. Rick Tocchet would likely be best served by leaning heaviest on Jakob Chychrun and Alex Goligoski, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still the de facto No. 1 rearguard in Glendale even though he’s endured a down stretch over the past few seasons.

In short, Arizona’s defense won’t win it many games but it also won’t lose it many games, either.

All of this talk of mediocrity leads us to Arizona’s ace in the hole, goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Injuries limited Kuemper to just 29 games this season but he was terrific in that span, posting a +8.71 GSAx. Kuemper is one of a select few goaltenders who has posted consistent results over the past two seasons. The 30-year-old Saskatoon native owns a +17.01 GSAx over his last 84 games.

With the added disclaimer that goalie-play is tough to project, I’d be confident in Arizona’s goaltending situation because the Coyotes have a more-than-capable backup in Antti Raanta should Kuemper struggle.

If Kuemper gives the Coyotes what he gave them over the past two regular seasons this series would turn into a coin flip.

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Betting Analysis

I’m interested to see how the market continues to react to the ongoing Chayka saga. The Predators opened as -129 favorites to win this series at DraftKings, so they’ve already taken money and if that number continues to creep up I think we’re going to see some value open up on Arizona, though I’m going to wait to see if Arizona can get closer to +120 before playing them to win the best-of-5.

As for Game 1, the price at the moment looks appropriate, though I am leaning towards Arizona there as well. If you’re just looking for action, a bet on the Coyotes is the way I’d go at the current odds, but I’m hoping the market will move towards Nashville and a better number, perhaps in the +115 range, will pop on the Desert Dogs.

Kuemper may not be able to put the team on his back for the whole tournament, but he’s definitely capable of doing it in a short series.

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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