NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Devils vs. Panthers (December 21)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Devils vs. Panthers (December 21) article feature image

Rich Graessle/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Reinhart of the Florida Panthers

  • Two banged-up teams meet on Wednesday night when the Panthers host the Devils.
  • Despite New Jersey's losing skid, the team has been fantastic team on the road.
  • Below, Jonny Lazarus explains why that fact is helping to drive his betting angle for the game.

Devils vs. Panthers Odds

Devils Odds+120
Panthers Odds-140
Over/Under6.5 (-125 / +105)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

It's been a very tough stretch for the New Jersey Devils, who have lost six straight games, including one last night in Carolina. Tonight, they will play the latter half of a back-to-back and will be desperate to get back in the win column.

The Florida Panthers got smoked in their most recent game after losing 7-3 to the Boston Bruins. They need to find some players who can step up with all of the injury adversity they're dealing with.

The Devils and Panthers played each other on Saturday night for the first time this season, and the Panthers stole a win in New Jersey. Now, the Devils will storm into Florida looking to get revenge, but more importantly, hoping to put an end to this losing skid.

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New Jersey Devils Will Find Their Magic Again

The Devils may have completely lost their magic as of late, but I'm not convinced that they won't be able to find it again.

Even though the scoreboard looked lopsided last night, the Devils played well enough to win; they just couldn't finish on their opportunities. New Jersey outshot the Hurricanes 38-20 and had 2.47 expected goals compared to Carolina's 2.72 expected goals, so this game really could have gone either way. Goal scoring has been the Devils' biggest crutch during this skid, tallying only 12 goals in six games.

I don't see the lack of goal-scoring lasting very long, though. The Devils have been consistently getting scoring chances, but the puck just doesn't seem to find the back of the net. Jack Hughes has continued to stay hot, and he is currently on a three-game point streak while recording a point in 11 of his last 12 games. He has helped carry this team all season long and hasn't shown any signs of regression.

The Devils will find their offensive production again. They are averaging the second-most shots on goal per game in the league (35.2), and they are currently skating to a 3.66 xGF/60.

Akira Schmid is tonight's expected starter. Despite losing his last two starts, he has had a phenomenal season in the blue paint. He enters this game boasting a .932 save percentage along with a 1.96 goals against average and is also skating to a +6.1 GSAx. I'd be very surprised if the Devils start Vitek Vanecek on back-to-back nights.

Inconsistency Plagues Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers are facing a bit of adversity while missing some key players to their lineup, including Sasha Barkov, Patric Hornqvist, Anton Lundell and Anthony Duclair.

They had a very weak start in their most recent game against the Bruins, trailing 3-0 after the first period of play and eventually losing 7-3.

The Panthers have been a very weird team this season. They do a fine job generating offense, but the goal-scoring doesn't appear to be very consistent. Especially on the man advantage, they have only one power-play goal in their last seven games.

Florida announced that Sergei Bobrovsky will be the starter in this game, and he has also had somewhat of an inconsistent season. Bobrovsky enters this game with a 7-9-1 record, a .894 save percentage and a 3.26 goals against average. He made 30 saves on 32 shots in the meeting on Saturday night against the Devils, and he will look to shut them down once again.

Devils vs. Panthers Pick

Despite the Devils' losing skid, they have been a fantastic team on the road this season, skating to a 11-2-1 record as the away team.

Florida looked horrible out of the gate in their most recent game in Boston, and that could be a result of the number of players who are missing from the lineup.

The Devils are going to get scoring chances. They haven't been able to finish lately, but their underlying metrics show that things will turn around for them at some point, and I think that could be tonight.

Jack Hughes has been outstanding, and Akira Schmid has had a much better season than Bobrovsky.

This feels like a game that the Devils can win and get back in the W column. I like the Devils to win outright.

Pick: New Jersey Devils ML (+120)

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