NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Coyotes (November 1)
Joe Hrycych/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Florida Panthers player Brandon Montour
Panthers vs. Coyotes Odds
|Over/Under||6.5 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
Doing so will prove a tough task. The Coyotes enter as gigantic underdogs at -275, taking on a Panthers side that has played some sharp hockey out of the gate and enters at 5-3-1.
Can Arizona pull off the shocking upset tonight?
Florida Panthers Shore up Defense
Under new coach Paul Maurice, Florida was expected to clean up its defensive play, which was a disaster a season ago, albeit hidden by one of the most potent offenses in NHL history.
In the early going, Maurice made a clear difference. The Panthers have allowed just 3.05 xGA/60 per game, which is the eighth-best mark in the league.
Florida's improved defensive play is even more impressive as its top defenseman, Aaron Ekblad, remains sidelined and Mackenzie Weegar – arguably the Panthers' best defenseman from a season ago – was traded in the deal for Matthew Tkachuk.
I expect the Panthers' defensive metrics at some point to trend closer to the middle of the pack, but that may not matter since offensively, the Panthers are still generating chances at an excellent clip.
Florida holds the top xGF/60 rate in the league at 4.34, and the fact that the Panthers have shot to the league's third-lowest shooting percentage is likely somewhat masking the strength of its offensive play.
In the absence of Ekblad, Florida tried a five-forward powerplay unit for a couple of games but has since given up on that groundbreaking strategy and placed Brandon Montour on the top powerplay unit.
Montour's excellent early play has been a significant reason the Panthers are getting by with what is now on paper a very thin defensive core, and offensively Montour is thriving with eight points in seven games.
Montour has scored three goals and actually has underscored his expected goals mark of 3.40.
He and Gustav Forsling have comprised a shockingly strong defensive pair, which owns an elite 69% expected goals for rate.
Another reason Florida's excellent early play has resulted in only a strong but not spectacular 5-3-1 record has been the play of its goaltending duo of Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight.
Bobrovsky has struggled to a -1.2 goals saved above expected rating and .897 save %, and the play has arguably looked slightly worse than that.
Knight has seemingly been a bit sharper and holds a +1.1 goals saved above expected rating – but also with an .897 save %.
It is worth paying attention to the official starting decision from Maurice for this contest, and I will track back and update this piece with confirmation after the morning skate.
Arizona Coyotes as Bad as Advertised?
Arizona's wildly thin roster has produced the kind of results we all expected thus far, with a 2-5-1 record coming from the league's worst expected goals rate at just 36.11%.
From a betting perspective, it's worth noting that even with just two wins, the Coyotes are near-breakeven, which is an important note to keep in mind when you consider just how wide the prices might get around the Yotes this season.
Even with the league's second-highest shooting percentage, Arizona has still scored just 2.88 goals per game, which is the seventh-lowest mark in the league.
Opening the season on a six-game Eastern road swing sure did not help Arizona's poor roster, however, and perhaps the Coyotes can stabilize to an extent moving forward.
Karel Vejmelka will likely get the start for Arizona in goal, and he has played to a -0.1 goals saved above expected rating and .884 save % in five appearances this season.
Panthers vs. Coyotes Pick
Florida should be well situated to bounce back and collect two points in this contest, but getting less than 2-to-1 to back the Panthers to cover the puck line is not ideal and is a bad enough number to scare me off.
However, I see some very intriguing options on the player prop side of things.
Montour has quietly been one of the league's better players this year, and I do not believe sportsbooks are guarding enough against his current form and vastly improved roles entering this matchup.
Montour is priced at +400 to score a goal at any time, and +230 to record a powerplay point in this contest.
Those are both strong long-shot options, and I like a small play on each against an Arizona team allowing the league's highest xGA/60 rating.
Pick: Brandon Montour Goal +400 | Montour Powerplay Point +230