Friday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Winnipeg Jets vs. Florida Panthers Betting Preview
Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Connor #81 of the Winnipeg Jets.
- The Florida Panthers host the Winnipeg Jets in Friday's NHL action.
- The Panthers are heavy -250 moneyline favorites, but analyst Carol Schram has found betting value on the underdogs.
- Check out below why she's backing Winnipeg keep things close.
Jets vs. Panthers Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
With just two games on the NHL’s Good Friday schedule, the Winnipeg Jets head to South Florida. They’ll try to keep their faint playoff hopes alive when they visit the red-hot Panthers.
Entering tonight’s games, the Jets sit eight points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference, with their odds of grabbing a postseason spot already well under 1%.
Meanwhile, the host Panthers have won their last eight straight games, many in spectacular fashion. Florida has created some breathing room in the Atlantic Division standings and is now challenging the Colorado Avalanche for the Presidents’ Trophy.
Let’s take a look at the recent play of both teams, and how to bet Friday’s game.
Winnipeg is set to play the tough Sunshine State back-to-back this weekend — in Sunrise against the Panthers on Friday, then in Tampa to face the Lightning on Saturday before heading back up north for the club’s final two road games of the year.
But the Jets will be coming into Friday’s game better rested than initially expected. The NHL cancelled their scheduled home game against Seattle on Wednesday due to concerns that a major winter storm might prevent the group from being able to fly south in time to face Florida. Instead, they were able to make an earlier exit and enjoy some extra fun in the sun.
As it stands, the Jets are riding a two-game winning streak after road victories last weekend in Ottawa and Montreal. But with a record of 5-4-1 over their last 10 games, they’ve lost ground in the playoff race rather than making it up.
That has meant leaning hard on goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who now leads the NHL in minutes played this season. He has started Winnipeg’s last five games, including last weekend’s back-to-backs. At 18.7 goals saved above expected, the 2020 Vezina Trophy winner has delivered another strong season, even with his heavy workload.
Hellebuyck’s sharp net minding has been needed behind a team that hasn’t been good defensively this year. The Jets rank sixth-worst in the NHL in expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5 and their penalty killing has been horrific since March 1, with just a 69.5% success rate.
Offensively, the Jets can be streaky. But they have shown some recent consistency, with four goals in each of their last three games. And Kyle Connor’s career high 42 snipes have him tied for fifth in the league heading into Thursday’s games. He’s equal with Connor McDavid and Kirill Kaprizov.
On the injury front, captain Blake Wheeler is set to return to action on Friday after missing the last three games. Forward Mark Scheifele and defenseman Logan Stanley are listed as day-to-day.
The Panthers’ rapid rise to a spot among the NHL’s elite teams has been one of the league’s best stories to follow over the past two years. They play a fast, fun, entertaining brand of hockey.
They’ve built a fanbase that’s happy to buy tickets and cheer them on, and they get plenty of attention from the national media, too. Multi-goal comebacks are part of their DNA, and Jonathan Huberdeau is making a run at the Art Ross Trophy as first Panther ever to exceed the 100-point benchmark.
Florida is the highest-scoring team in the league and has upped the ante down the stretch, averaging 4.3 goals per game since March 1. Also with strong expected goals for, even with a somewhat moderate 2.42 expected goals against per 60 at 5-on-5 places them second in the league in overall expected goals share, behind only Boston.
With a record like the Panthers’, the club’s injuries fly under the radar. Key defenseman Aaron Ekblad has been out since just after the trade deadline, and isn’t expected back until the first round of the playoffs. Forwards Ryan Lomberg and Noel Acciari are currently both listed as day-to-day.
In net, of course, Sergei Bobrovsky has silenced the doubters who questioned the big contract he signed three seasons ago. He’s having his best year as a Panther and sits among the league’s top goalies with 16.8 goals saved above expected. With 35 wins and nine games left on the Panthers’ schedule, Bobrovsky has a chance to match his career-best 41-win season with Columbus in 2016-17, one of two years that he won the Vezina Trophy with the Blue Jackets.
Jets vs. Panthers Pick
The Panthers haven’t lost very often this season. When they met the Jets in Winnipeg back in January, they skated out of Canada Life Centre with a 5-3 victory.
The outcome may not be much different this time around. Florida hasn’t lost on home ice since late February, and has been finding ways to get the best of virtually every team that comes into its sights.
Even the Jets’ rest advantage should only bring Winnipeg somewhat level with the home side. The Panthers have had a relatively leisurely week at home with just one game, beating Anaheim 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday.
For bettors, though, it’s worth noting that Florida seems to be in cruise control, doing just enough to win. That should be a deterrent to anyone who’s looking at the puck line or even a regulation win.
Even the over/under has risk. As the Panthers demonstrated against the Ducks on Tuesday, they’re happy to settle for a lower-scoring win, if that’s enough to get the job done.
Given the lopsided odds for the game, the best-value play is to back the Jets to keep it close. At -115 on the puck line, you’ll score a tidy payout if Winnipeg wins, or loses by no more than one goal.
Pick: Jets +1.5 (-115) — play down to -135