Monday’s NHL Betting Previews: Islanders-Avalanche, Ducks-Penguins
Dennis Schneidler, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Mat Barzal
If you need to know how much of a grind betting on the NHL can be, look no further than Saturday’s slate.
The NHL card featured 10 games. Five of those closed with a favorite at -175 or higher and six went to overtime. All six overtime contests featured an underdog of +130 or longer (using Pinnacle’s closing line): Buffalo +130, Florida +137, Anaheim +153, Los Angeles +161, New Jersey +171 and Detroit +187.
Florida and Anaheim ended up on the right side of the overtime coin flip, while Buffalo, New Jersey and Detroit fell in a shootout and the Kings lost in overtime.
Speaking of the Kings, their game with the Penguins featured one of the worst opening lines of the season.
The Pens opened as -250 favorites at Pinnacle, considered by many to be the sharpest sportsbook in the world, with the Kings coming back at +222. The line was triple-tapped immediately and dropped 50 cents in under 25 minutes.
By the time the puck dropped — well over 24 hours after the opening line was posted — the Penguins were -179 favorites and the price on Los Angeles was +161.
Not only were the Penguins on a back-to-back, but they were scheduled to start Matt Murray in goal. Murray has been on and off the injured reserve for the past two seasons and even when he’s been healthy, he hasn’t been effective.
Of course the Penguins ultimately cashed, but if you were on the Kings early and beat the closing line you should be happy with how you handicapped that game. Not only did you beat the market but you got a sizable underdog to overtime, which is more or less a coin flip.
Anyway, that’s in the past. Let’s talk about Monday night’s card because it features two more exploitable lines.
NHL record: 26-27, +8.38 units
>> All odds as of 8 p.m. ET on Sunday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NHL odds and track your bets
Betting odds: New York Islanders at Colorado Avalanche
- Islanders moneyline: +170
- Avalanche moneyline: -200
- Over/Under: 6 (-110/-110)
- Puck drop: 9 p.m. ET
The New York Islanders were both lucky and deserved winners on Saturday night. The Isles, who were -220 to beat Detroit on Long Island, dominated much of the game but were down, 2-1, in the third period. They caught a break on the game-tying goal and then won in a shootout after a back-and-forth overtime.
The Islanders now travel to Denver to face the Avs, one of the league’s best teams. Colorado is currently third in the Central Division but its 18-9-6 record is the eighth-best in the NHL.
Even though Colorado is churning out points at a great clip, the Avalanche are beating their underlying metrics.
According to Corsica, the Avalanche allow 2.34 expected goals against per 60 minutes at 5v5 while generating just 2.17.
Colorado has consistently been below the break-even mark in terms of xG% all season long, but the Avalanche have benefited from decent goaltending, above average shooting % and they also have one of the league’s best lines with Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
The Islanders were also making a name for themselves in the “overperforming” bracket but have quietly improved their game in the last few weeks. New York now has played 31 games under Barry Trotz and his magic is beginning to pay dividends.
Not only are the Islanders generating more high-danger scoring chances than they’re allowing at 5v5, they have the second-highest expected shooting % at even strength. The Islanders may not produce a ton of shots, but the ones they do take are good ones.
The standings may suggest otherwise but the difference between these two teams is not as wide as the odds suggest. The Islanders’ expected-goal rates are stronger than Colorado, and while the Avs are home, this will be their third game in four nights.
After removing the vigorish, these odds (which are still available at 5Dimes) imply Colorado has a 66.7% chance of beating the Islanders. These two teams are a lot closer than that and I’d suggest playing the Islanders at any number above +145.
The bet: New York Islanders +170
Betting odds: Anaheim Ducks at Pittsburgh Penguins
- Ducks moneyline: +149
- Penguins moneyline: -172
- Over/Under: 6 (-110/-110)
- Puck drop: 7 p.m. ET
This game is a little bit risky given the fact that Anaheim is on the first game of a back-to-back, meaning they will almost certainly give Chad Johnson either Monday or Tuesday off.
I’m hoping it’s the latter, Pittsburgh is John Gibson’s hometown after all, and that would make these odds too wide.
Pittsburgh is the better team and has stronger underlying metrics, but Anaheim has improved over the last month. The Ducks are still banged up, but with Gibson in goal, Anaheim is a live dog in just about every game.
The Penguins will need to get themselves sorted on the back-end if they want to contend again this season. The Pens allow the 12th-most high-danger chances per 60, the 15th-most expected goals per 60 and own the ninth-worst expected save percentage at 5v5.
Those numbers aren’t bad, but they reveal some serious cracks for a team that already has a goaltending problem.
If Gibson is confirmed I’d be comfortable playing this number down to +140 and would also remind you that this is Pittsburgh’s third game in four nights.
The Bet: Anaheim Ducks +149