NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Jets (December 6)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Panthers vs. Jets (December 6) article feature image

Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Gustav Forsling

  • The Panthers and Jets meet on Tuesday night in Winnipeg.
  • Florida was one of the best teams in the NHL this season, but has struggled somewhat to start this season.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting prediction.

Panthers vs. Jets Odds

Panthers Odds-115
Jets Odds-104
Time8 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Panthers entered the season as potential Stanley Cup contenders, but so far they've been shaky. Florida hasn't had a three-game winning streak yet in 2022-23, though the Panthers are in a position to change that after decisively beating Vancouver and Seattle on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

But can Florida get that elusive third straight victory when its opponent is as good as Winnipeg? The Jets have been one of the league's top teams with a 15-7-1 record. To make things worse for Florida, they've been on a roll lately, winning four of their last five contests while outscoring the competition 23-12 over that span.

Let's take a closer look at how to bet this matchup.

What's Changed For Panthers?

The Panthers had a 58-18-6 record last season and a big part of their success was their overwhelming offense. They were the top team in the NHL with 4.11 goals per game, but this season they're tied for eighth place with 3.48. So what's caused that drop?

When looking at their roster, by far the biggest change from 2021-22 stems from their decision to acquire Matthew Tkachuk from Calgary at a cost that included Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar. Huberdeau was the cornerstone of the Panthers' attack last season with 30 goals and 115 points in 80 games, but Tkachuk has done a great job of assuming that role, scoring 12 goals and 34 points in 23 games. So we can't really blame the drop on swapping out Huberdeau for Tkachuk.

Losing Weegar in the same trade isn't the difference either. He was a key offensive defenseman last season, providing eight goals and 44 points in 80 games, but other blueliners have stepped up to help fill the void. Most notably, Brandon Montour has five goals and 21 points in 23 contests this season, putting him on track to shatter his career high of 37 points, which he set in 2021-22.

So if the trade isn't to blame for the drop, what is? Losing Anthony Duclair to an Achilles tendon injury is certainly a big factor. He had 31 goals and 58 points in 74 games last season and hasn't been able to play at all in 2022-23. Unlike the loss of Weegar, where other defensemen stepped up to fill the void, no one on the forward core has really done so for Duclair.

Instead, the loss of Duclair has been compounded by the decline of Sam Reinhart, who had 33 goals and 82 points in 82 games last season, but has recorded a more modest seven goals and 15 points in 25 contests.

Even with those setbacks, Florida is still clearly a great team offensively. The trouble is it's come while the Panthers have endured some terrible goaltending. Sergei Bobrovsky was adequate last season with a 2.67 GAA and .913 save percentage, but through 12 starts in 2022-23, he's posted a 3.84 GAA and .878 save percentage.

Those numbers are in line with Cal Petersen's 3.75 GAA and .868 save percentage, and Los Angeles sent Petersen to the AHL to find himself.

Bobrovsky is 34-years-old though and commands a $10 million cap hit along with a no-movement clause, so odds are Florida is stuck with him occupying a spot on its roster.

Fortunately the Panthers have a savior in Spencer Knight. He's 8-3-3 with a 2.49 GAA and .923 save percentage in 14 games this season. With Bobrovsky struggling, Knight has become the team's No. 1 goaltender. Knight has started five of Florida's last six games, including the Panthers' last two wins.

Florida has been a much better team this season when Knight's in net and it wouldn't be surprising to see him defending the crease against the Jets.

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Jets Ride Hellebuyck in Net

The Jets won't provide Knight with the strongest forward core he's faced, but Winnipeg certainly has some major scoring threats. Josh Morrissey has been one of the league's top offensive defensemen this season with five goals and 26 points in 23 games.

He has some choice forwards to feed the puck to, including Kyle Connor, who has eight goals and 23 points, Pierre-Luc Dubois, who has 11 markers and 22 points, and Blake Wheeler, who has seven goals and 22 points.

So the Jets absolutely can score, but they're not special in that regard. Their 3.22 goals per game puts them in 14th place offensively. Instead, Winnipeg wins its games by being good enough and then letting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck do the rest.

Hellebuyck has a 2.27 GAA and .931 save percentage in 18 starts this season. That's the second-best save percentage behind only Linus Ullmark and the fourth-best GAA behind Ullmark, Ilya Sorokin, and Vitek Vanecek (min. 10 games played). Hellebuyck has done particularly well lately, winning his last three games while stopping 91 of 95 shots.

His performance has been in stark contrast to the Jets' other goaltender, David Rittich, who has a 3.07 GAA and .881 save percentage, but that gap is why Rittich has only played in five games this season.

As long as Hellebuyck stays healthy, Winnipeg is likely to continue to lean heavily on him. Rittich started in Friday's 4-1 loss to Columbus, so Hellebuyck has gotten a breather recently and is very likely to start in this contest.

However, Florida is going to be one of the tougher opponents Hellebuyck has faced thus far, and it is worth noting that last season he posted a 5.45 GAA and .845 save percentage in two losses to the Panthers. Hellebuyck is performing far better than he did last season, but you do have to wonder if Florida still has his number.

Panthers vs. Jets Pick

Even considering the fact that Hellebuyck struggled against the Panthers last season, at a glance you'd assume that the odds would show Winnipeg as the favorites. After all, the Jets have the better record and the home ice advantage.

However, taking Winnipeg on the moneyline over Florida offers you a marginally better potential payout on FanDuel: -104 for the Jets compared to -115 for Florida at the time of writing.

What's even more noteworthy is that the spread on the puck line is 1.5 goals in favor of Winnipeg. The chances of Winnipeg coming within 1.5 goals of Florida seem pretty good, especially given that Hellebuyck and Knight have the potential to make this a goaltending duel.

The possible payout from taking the Jets on the puck line isn't great though, so I'm not going to recommend that bet unless you're seeking the safest scenario. I'm also reluctant to take the under, even though this game is projected to feature two goaltenders who are having great seasons. The Panthers and Jets' offenses are just too good to make me feel comfortable with that bet.

Instead, I'm going to recommend Florida on the moneyline. Even though Winnipeg offers the better potential payout, Knight has done so well this season and when you combine his play with the Panthers' offensive core, they look every bit like the Cup favorites they were projected to be going into the season.

Just keep an eye on the goaltending matchup because if it turns out that Bobrovsky is starting, then I'd shift my bet to Winnipeg on the moneyline.

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