NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Devils vs. Senators (Monday, Feb. 7)
Photo by Brad Penner/Getty Images. Pictured: Brady Tkachuk (Senators)
Devils vs. Senators Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
The New Jersey Devils will be without star forward Jack Hughes as they return to action after the All-Star break. The Devils begin a three-in-four road trip that kicks off on Monday in Ottawa.
After grabbing a big share of the spotlight during the weekend's All-Star festivities in Vegas, Hughes was added to the COVID protocol list on Sunday, as New Jersey reconvened for practice.
Here's what else is happening around the Devils and Senators, and my betting advice for Monday's game.
Where Do Devils Stand Without Hughes?
The Devils entered the All-Star break riding a six-game losing streak that pushed them into last place in the Metropolitan Division. Hughes had been a bright spot, with points in seven of New Jersey's last eight games and with 27 points in 28 games for the year.
They're a team that has struggled to keep the puck out of the net, as a heel injury to Mackenzie Blackwood has left the Devils shorthanded in goal. And while defenseman Dougie Hamilton is back skating with his team as his broken jaw heals, he won't be on this road trip.
The Devils are getting forward Michael McLeod back in the lineup after he missed four games with an undisclosed issue. And head coach Lindy Ruff plans to rejoin his team in Ottawa on Monday after taking a personal leave of absence following his father's death on Jan. 28.
At 5-on-5, New Jersey can generally hang with its opponents, sitting 15th in the league, with an expected goals share of 50.85%.
But the Devils are the unluckiest team in the league, with a last-place PDO of just .971, where a rate of 1.000 represents average luck in a game that incorporates plenty of randomness.
On special teams, the Devils' penalty killing is decent, with an 82% success rate. But their power-play success rate is 25th in the league — at just 16.3% — and a New Jersey power play is an opportunity for both teams to score.
The Devils have recorded 20 goals while they've had the man advantage this year, but have also given up a league-high eight goals to their opponents in that situation.
New Jersey will be on the front half of a back-to-back on Monday. At this point, it's unclear how the goaltending duties will be distributed, but neither option is great. Jon Gillies, who has been carrying most of the recent workload, has a save percentage of .884 for the season while Nico Daws is at .875.
Eyes on Tkachuk's Status for Sens
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators return from the break in the seventh spot in the Atlantic Division. They're a solid 3-2-2 in their last seven games and have held their own against some high-caliber opponents, like Edmonton, Carolina and Washington.
For the most part, the Sens have been solid in net recently, with their goaltending tandem of Matt Murray and Anton Forsberg doing a pretty good job of keeping the puck out of the net.
On the injury front, the Senators are missing three of their top young forwards — Drake Batherson, Josh Norris and Colin White. Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev looks set to return from a heel injury on Monday, and forward Connor Brown should also be back in action.
But keep an eye out for news on Brady Tkachuk's status heading into Monday's game. He was one of the few Senators not to go into COVID protocol before Christmas. He was also in Vegas for All-Star weekend, and just happens to be one of Hughes' best friends.
Tkachuk was not required to attend Ottawa's practice on Sunday.
For all the challenges they've faced this year, the Senators fare better than the Devils in PDO at .992. But they're still hosting games in a largely-empty arena — just 500 fans will be allowed in the Canadian Tire Center.
Monday's game is part of a back-to-back set for the Senators, who will also host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. That could mean that coach D.J. Smith will save his hotter netminder, Murray, for the more formidable opponent, and tap Forsberg against the Devils.
The oddsmakers are giving the Senators a slight edge in this matchup. Based on what we know as of Sunday evening, that seems fair. Hughes' absence creates a significant hole in the Devils' lineup, and no matter which way the goalie matchups shake out, Ottawa should have the advantage.
It wouldn't hurt to wait until after Monday morning skates before placing your wager. You can make sure that Tkachuk is good to go for Ottawa, and see what's happening in net at both ends of the ice.
If everything is status quo, the Sens look good on the moneyline or — if you're feeling bold — in regulation at +120.
Pick: Ottawa (-120); Play down to -135