NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Senators vs. Jets (December 20)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Senators vs. Jets (December 20) article feature image

Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ottawa Senators Goalie Cam Talbot

  • The Jets are 11-5-0 at home and host the Senators on Tuesday night.
  • Despite their records, these teams are more evenly matched than some observers may realize.
  • That's why, as he details below, Nicholas Martin is targeting a bet on Ottawa tonight.

Senators vs. Jets Odds

Senators Odds+106
Jets Odds-128
Over/Under6.5 (-108 / -112)
Time8 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.
(Editor's note at 1:02 p.m. ET: Connor Hellebuyck will now sit tonight with illness, and David Rittich will start for the Jets in goal.)
Connor Hellebuyck and the Winnipeg Jets have been dominant on home ice and enter Tuesday's matchup with the Senators with an 11-5-0 record at home.
Ottawa has gone just 6-7-2 on the road this year and enters this matchup sitting dead last in the Atlantic division.
The Senators opened at +145 and have shortened all the way down to +105 for this contest. What's the logic behind the big money pouring in on the Sens, when all of the more obvious statistics seem to show this is a smash-spot for the Jets?
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Ottawa Senators Finding Stride

Ottawa has trended into significantly better form of late and enters this matchup on an 8-3-1 tear.

The Senators' underlying numbers have been favorable all season, so it's no surprise that they remain excellent now that the team is actually winning games.  Ottawa has played to a 54.77 expected goals  for % throughout its 12-game upswing and has played to a goal differential of +9.

The Senators always projected to be somewhat of an offensive powerhouse this season, but Ottawa's early offensive results were very modest due to a paltry shooting percentage on high-danger chances.

Now the natural regression to the mean is happening, and it has led to better results for Ottawa.

Tim Stutzle's absence from the top line is meaningful, however, and he will remain sidelined for this contest. Stutzle's absence makes the potential return of Josh Norris especially crucial, and it does appear Norris is close after he skated in a regular jersey at practice on Friday.

Cam Talbot will likely start in goal for Ottawa in this matchup. Talbot has played to a +5.8 goals saved above expected rating with a .916 save % throughout 17 games played.

Poking Holes in Winnipeg Jets' Resume

Winnipeg's eighth-best record league-wide would give the appearance that these two sides are miles apart, but there are a number of clear arguments as to why these teams are closer than people may think.

Winnipeg has gone just 4-4-0 versus the Eastern Conference, compared to its ridiculous 16-6-0 mark versus the West.

Winnipeg's underlying control of play has also been moderately worse than Ottawa's over the last 12 games, as it has controlled play to a mark of 51.31%. The true scoring talent discrepancies between these two teams do not project to be notable either, so the fact that Ottawa has actually owned more of the play is relevant.

Winnipeg will be short the services of Blake Wheeler and Nate Schmidt, who will join Nikolaj Ehlers on the IR. If anything, Schmidt's absence may be the more meaningful as the Jets' defensive core is still thin despite its massive improvement in team defensive play this season.

The greatest reason for Winnipeg's success is very obvious, as Hellebuyck is making yet another case for the Vezina trophy with a +15.7 GSAx rating and .928 save % in 24 games played.

Hellebuyck rested Sunday against Seattle and will start for tonight's contest.

Senators vs. Jets Pick

Ottawa has quietly played at a high level for what is now a reasonably large sample size, and there are several logical arguments as to why this team is underrated record-wise.

Both these teams hold nearly identical records in out-of-conference play, which illustrates the idea that if the Senators were in the Central division and the Jets were in the Atlantic, their form might appear closer than their current overall records indicate.

Winnipeg's 7-1 record in games ending in 3-on-3 and shootouts is another negative comment toward its record being somewhat inflated; over a large sample, records in those novelty finishes will always run close to .500.

All of those are factors that the true gap between these sides for today's game is not as gigantic as most would imagine looking at overall records.

All the indications are that Ottawa is in with a realistic shot to carry more of the play in this contest, and even placing some weight in the goaltending disparity here the Senators are priced too long at +105

Pick: Ottawa Senators (+105 at DraftKings) | Play to +100

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