Saturday NHL Odds, Betting Preview and Predictions for Oilers vs. Panthers (Feb. 26)
Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Reinhart of the Florida Panthers #13 and Mikko Koskinen of the Edmonton Oilers #19
- The Florida Panthers host the Edmonton Oilers in this afternoon bout.
- Both teams have been in a slump, but that hasn’t stopped some scoring tears.
- Our expert breaks down this matchup, plus his prediction and pick, below.
Oilers vs. Panthers Odds
|Over/Under||7 (+100o / -120u)|
|Time||12:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL odds here.|
The Edmonton Oilers enter this showdown in the midst of a two-game slump, having allowed 12 goals in two contests to some stiff competition in the Wild and Lightning. The Florida Panthers have also had a brutal week themselves, losing back-to-back contests against the Predators and Blue Jackets and also allowing 12 goals against.
The obvious narrative here is that this should be an extremely fun contest featuring all three of the league’s top scorers alongside some softer defensive play and net-minding.
Will we see it play out that way?
Edmonton Oilers’ Goalie Struggles Continue
After a notably poor effort at home against Minnesota, Edmonton put forth a much stronger performance Wednesday against Tampa, but ultimately took a 5-3 loss. The clear story of that game was that Mike Smith was simply far worse than Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal.
Edmonton generated a wealth of chances to the tune of 3.98 expected goals, but ultimately that was not enough. What continues to be the main concern for the Oilers played out yet again with their shaky goaltending situation.
Neither Smith nor Mikko Koskinen have produced acceptable play for the Oilers so far this season. While it seems allowing Stuart Skinner some more opportunities is a very logical move, it doesn’t sound like we will see him draw the start here.
With Smith having posted another rough outing in Tampa, it just doesn’t seem to me like the Oilers can really go back to him yet again. I lean toward Koskinen ending up with this start, but really from a handicapping perspective the only meaningful decision would be if Skinner managed a surprising start.
Koskinen holds a -9.4 goals saved above expected rating with an .899 save percentage in 28 games played.
The good news for Edmonton is that it has played to the league’s second-best xGF/60 rating of 3.70 over the span of new head coach Jay Woodcroft’s tenure. The Oilers enter this one in strong form in that aspect of the game, which could be a big problem for a Florida team that is leaking a ton of quality chances against.
Florida Panthers Looking to Bounce Back
Florida continues to play a ridiculously up-tempo style of hockey, led by a wealth of offensive talent and some top defenders whose greatest assets still revolve around creating goals.
The balance had mainly been an effective one, as although the Panthers have been allowing a lot against, they had consistently generated far more at the other end of the rink — and likely hold more competent playmakers and finishers than most teams altogether.
But the balance has fallen off so far this week, with Florida being slightly out chanced as massive favorites against both Nashville and Columbus.
So while those were two notably bad outings and you obviously don’t want to judge teams based off small samples of their worst play, this game offers a really tough spot for a team that has been in disarray defensively against an Oilers team featuring a ton of talent up front.
Sergei Bobrovsky has been confirmed as the Panthers starter for this one, and has been strong altogether this season with a +19.5 goals saved above expected rating with a .917 save percentage throughout 36 games played, but has slowly tailed off from his ridiculous start to the season that had him briefly in the Vezina Trophy discussion.
In what has been a narrative that seems easier for fans and bettors to accept than for oddsmakers, games in Florida continue to have ridiculously high totals on average. The overs are staying wildly profitable, and opening totals a touch higher at 6 or now 6.5 simply hasn’t accounted for the ridiculously up-tempo style of the Panthers, who continue to hide soft defensive play with an unbelievable offensive unit.
Florida really hasn’t defended overly well by any means for a large sample size, and the play of Sergei Bobrovsky continues to be closer to what we saw in each of the last two seasons.
On top of that, this sets up as an above-average opponent totals wise. The Oilers could certainly expose Florida’s defensive concerns with their elite attack, while also featuring a poor goaltending duo and some average defensive play behind that.
Edmonton themselves have seen totals go 4-0-1 to the over in their last five contests, averaging 8.2 combined goals per game in that span.
It’s easy for me to see value on the narrative everyone will likely look toward here on the over at 6.5 (offered at -130 at time of writing) — especially in a spot where I’m confident we will see another total of 7 at most books by game time (check real-time NHL odds here).
Back the current prices if you can, and I would recommend waiting if you’re going to look at the under.
Pick: Over 6.5 | Bet to: 7 (-115)