NHL on TNT Best Bets: Expert Prop Bet for Opener, Underdog Moneyline in Nightcap (Wednesday, March 15)

NHL on TNT Best Bets: Expert Prop Bet for Opener, Underdog Moneyline in Nightcap (Wednesday, March 15) article feature image

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche

  • Tonight's NHL on TNT doubleheader features the Avalanche vs. Maple Leafs and Wild vs. Blues.
  • Hockey betting expert Nicholas Martin has a pair of best bets for the games.
  • Check out his player prop, his underdog moneyline play and the analysis for both selections below.

The NHL gets it right by featuring an excellent matchup between the Avs and Leafs as Wednesday's NHL on TNT opener, followed by a rivalry showdown between the Wild and Blues.

Let's dive into my favorite two wagers below.

Tonight's NHL on TNT slate features:

Avalanche @ Maple Leafs

PickNathan MacKinnon Over 4.5 Shots on Goal. (-110)
Puck drop7 p.m. ET

Saying a player cashed in "X" amount of recent games is just a starting point when we are considering props, and the more important part is analyzing why that trend may or may not continue and why therefore you are arguing a price is not being moved enough.

Nathan MacKinnon has averaged 5.46 shots on goal per game over his last 15 matchups, and he has cashed "over 4.5" in 11 of those matchups.

There are some strong arguments that suggest MacKinnon's elite shot generation is going to continue, even in this tough matchup versus a strong defensive team in the Leafs.

With a number of bodies regularly out of the lineup and the playoffs not a foregone conclusion, the Avs have regularly played MacKinnon for a massive amount of minutes.

Since the turn of the new year, he has averaged 22 minutes per game and outproduced all but Connor McDavid, and tonight is a likely spot to play either at or past his ice-time average being a rare underdog versus Toronto.

MacKinnon's ability to generate his own chances off the rush and in tight spaces is second to arguably just McDavid, and as the Avs' games have become more meaningful, he is taking his play to another level.

He averaged 5.9 shots on goal per game last postseason, which is further proof that even in tough matchups, his ability to generate his own looks shines through.

It's also a comment that when the lights are shining a little brighter, MacKinnon is at his best, and a nationally broadcast game in the hockey mecca that is Toronto seems like a great time to back MacKinnon to be very involved.

The Pick: Nathan MacKinnon Over 4.5 Shots on Goal (-110 at DraftKings)

Wild @ Blues

PickSt. Louis Blues Moneyline +123
Puck drop9:30 p.m. ET

St. Louis has lost nine of its last 11 matchups while the scorching-hot Minnesota Wild have won 10 of 13 matchups.

At first glance, that does not make a strong case for backing the Blues at a price of just +123, and this will be a popular spot to back the Wild when people see a hot side versus a nonplayoff team skating out the season.

I do not believe that the Wild are likely to continue winning at such a rate moving forward, however, considering the actual process behind this incredible stretch of results.

Over the team's 13-game heater, Minnesota's goaltending duo has put up a .949 save %, which has been the key to attaining an abnormal amount of extremely close victories. Yet a .949 save %  is extremely unsustainable in the modern NHL, even playing behind strong defensive play. For reference, the middle ground of the league over that run has been a .896 save %.

In particular Marc-Andre Fleury is the goaltending candidate I want to pick on for regression. This current stretch of play from Fleury is far better than we have seen him play in a long time, and he is confirmed as tonight's starter.  

Fleury was terrorized by the Blues in last year's postseason and has allowed 3.00 goals against on average versus St. Louis dating back to the start of last season. While St. Louis' roster has suffered through some significant losses since that sample started, the philosophy to its play that likely causes Fleury to struggle remains.

The Blues are one of the better teams in terms of creating east-west passing in the offensive zone prior to chances, and they attempt more seam passes than the average team. That makes for a bad matchup against a goaltender who challenges the initial shooting threat extremely aggressively.

The most crucial Blues offensive stars in Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich have displayed much better form of late and do offer some serious offensive upside to help counteract the numerous other advantages Minnesota owns in this matchup.

Backing Jordan Binnington and the shoddy Blues defense is not overly fun, but doing so in a rivalry matchup on home ice versus a thin Minnesota offense playing without superstar Kirill Kaprizov is a spot I like.

This game should play out far closer than a price of +123 suggests, and I think St. Louis is a very live underdog in this matchup.

The Pick: St. Louis Blues (+123 at BetRivers)

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