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NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Predators vs. Ducks (December 30)

NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Predators vs. Ducks (December 30) article feature image

Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros.

  • The Ducks host the Predators in the first game on Friday's NHL slate.
  • Nashville is coming off a rough stretch of games and could be in a bit of a buy-low spot for bettors.
  • Tony Sartori digs into the matchup and offers up a pick below.

Predators vs. Ducks Odds

Predators Odds-154
Ducks Odds+128
Over/Under6 (-118/-104)
Time5 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

A Western Conference tilt with the Pacific Division's Anaheim Ducks hosting the Central Division's Nashville Predators kicks off Friday's slate. This game is the second meeting between these clubs this season. Nashville won the first contest 2-1 in overtime.

Will the Predators take care of business once again, or can the Ducks pull off the upset on home ice? Let's look at the odds and make a betting pick.

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Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators enter this contest in terrible form, having lost back-to-back games and eight of their past 10. However, those losses need some context as six of them came against teams that were in the playoffs last year.

Traveling to Anaheim on two-days rest is perhaps the perfect opportunity for Nashville to have a "get right" game. Nashville's offense is primed for positive regression, which should come to fruition against a poor Anaheim blue line.

At 5-on-5, the Predators rank just 29th in the league in goals for per 60 minutes, but are 19th in xGF/60. Like their defensive metrics, nothing jumps off the page for this Nashville group, but it still ranks higher than the Ducks across the board.

Backing up this below-average team is goaltender Juuse Saros, who is projected to start between the pipes on Friday. While the team is below-average, Saros is anything but.

Through 26 starts this season, he boasts a .914 SV% and 2.82 GAA. Entering this game in particularly dominant form, Saros has posted a .935 SV% and 2.23 GAA over his past seven outings.

Based on his metrics, regression is unlikely for the Predators' netminder. He ranks 12th among starting goaltenders in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5-on-5. Across six career starts against Anaheim, Saros is 4-1-1 with a .923 SV% and 2.46 GAA.

Anaheim Ducks

As an avid Hawks fan, the Anaheim Ducks scare me because they are perhaps the only team as bad as Chicago. Both teams are the frontrunners in the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, something that likely won't change as the season progresses.

At 5-on-5, the Ducks rank fourth-to-last in the league in xGF/60 and last in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60). A young team full of inexperience and underwhelming talent, there hasn't been much for Ducks fans to hang their hats on this season.

Mason McTavish is finally coming into his own, the team knows what it has in Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras, and Adam Henrique continues to be a good veteran presence. Outside of those four guys, nothing has gone right in Anaheim.

Backing up this squad is goaltender John Gibson, who is projected to get the start between the pipes in this matchup. Through 23 starts this season, he is 6-14-3 with a .900 SV% and 3.88 GAA.

While Gibson is dealt a bad hand by what is in front of him, he is unlikely to turn things around against a Nashville offense primed for positive regression. Over his past three starts against the Predators, Gibson is 0-2-1 with a .900 SV% and 3.33 GAA.

Predators vs. Ducks Pick

Nashville has won each of the past four meetings between these clubs and six of the past nine, a trend that should continue in this contest. Not only do the Predators enter this game more rested, but they boast the better offense, defense and goaltender.

There are many reasons to be concerned about the Predators moving forward this season, however, those concerns are far outweighed by the concerns one should have about Anaheim. After a tough stretch of the schedule for Nashville, this game presents a great opportunity to buy low on the Predators against the inferior Ducks.

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