NHL Odds & Pick for Oilers vs. Canadiens: Back Edmonton if the Price is Right (Tuesday, March 30)
Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: The Edmonton Oilers celebrate.
- The Oilers aren't very rested heading into tonight's matchup with the Canadiens.
- However, it's tough to know what to expect out of Montreal coming out of a COVID-related pause.
- Matt Russell previews the matchup and makes his pick below.
Oilers vs. Canadiens Odds
|Over/Under||6.5(+102 / -124|
|Time | TV||Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday night and via DraftKings.|
Whether you’re 8-years-old or 88, you can always settle a dispute with the timeless classic, rock/paper/scissors.
Rarely can we look at a hockey game and similarly decide how to back a side from a betting perspective, but when it comes to the Oilers and Canadiens, it’s instead a simple game of COVID/Rest/Metrics.
If you like the Canadiens in this game, it likely has something to do with the fact that the Oilers played Monday night in Toronto. When one team plays the night before and is forced to travel in fewer than 24 hours to play an opponent in a different city, the rested team that didn't travel is winning at a better than 90% rate this season.
So if you’re backing the Oilers, you know you’re going against a pretty significant trend. That said, the Oilers had all the rest they could want after the NHL was forced to postpone their three-game set with Montreal last week, and it didn’t do them that much good as they wilted in the third period on Saturday in Toronto. On Monday, the Oilers were much better, but needed the late rally to force overtime and eventually win the game.
For all the Oilers’ success in the win column after a slow start to the season, they’re still only slightly above average at even-strength. My “Let’s Do That Hockey” Model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, puts an emphasis on 5-on-5 play and the creation and prevention of High-Danger Chances, along with Expected Goals For and XG Against. The Oilers' season tallies of 309 HDC For and 291 HDC Against are just one example of slightly better-than-average play.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The Montreal Canadiens excel in the ratio metrics at even-strength, thanks to an ability to stifle their opponents. The Habs have allowed just 216 High-Danger Chances Against, which is fewer than seven per game. Even more impressively, they only allow goals on 11.11 percent of those chances, which is much better than the league average of 14%.
Much of those really good numbers, however, came from good early season success. In a surprise move, the Habs' brass thought it best to relieve head coach Claude Julien of his duties after a stretch of losing five of six. Given that they were rated 20% above average in my model and not seeing the wins commensurate with those metrics for the second straight season, presumably they thought they could improve with this move. They did not. In fact, they’ve dipped to 14%, playing just 6% above-average at even strength since the coaching change.
Their biggest issue for Tuesday’s clash with the Oilers is what to do about a team returning from a COVID-19 hiatus. In college basketball, fading teams in their first halves back from a break was often profitable. In hockey, it’s not as simple as betting a first period. The specific issue here is that the Canadiens hadn’t even been able to practice until Monday night.
Check out our free NHL odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
Betting Analysis & Pick
My model makes this true moneyline MTL -127/EDM +127, but the model doesn’t know that the Habs have been in quarantine for a week, and wouldn’t know what to do with that information even if it did.
Given the uncertainty, I’ll be shooting to bet against the team after a long layoff whose metrics are on the downturn. However, I’ll be looking for a price better than the true moneyline my model suggests, so something like Oilers +140 or better would do the trick. Unfortunately, the line hasn't gotten there yet, but keep an eye on those lines and jump if the number strikes your fancy.
Pick: Oilers (+140 or better) / Canadiens (-115 or better)