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Predators vs. Red Wings NHL Odds & Pick: Back Detroit as a Home Underdog (Thursday, April 8)

Predators vs. Red Wings NHL Odds & Pick: Back Detroit as a Home Underdog (Thursday, April 8) article feature image

Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Nashville’s Ben Harpur (from left), Detroit’s Dylan Larkin and Nashville’s Luke Kunin.

  • The Predators have been surging of late and find themselves in playoff contention.
  • They're favored on Thursday night against the Red Wings, but should they be?
  • Matt Russell previews the game and makes his prediction below.

Predators vs. Red Wings Odds

Predators Odds -160
Red Wings Odds +135
Over/Under 5.5
Time | TV Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via PointsBet.

The last few golfers hole out on the 18th green at Augusta National, and you tally up how you did on your first-round bets. You’ve done a quick review of where your outright bets stand after the first round of The Masters. You think to yourself, “That was fun, but what to do now?”

The answer is to transition from the icy greens of Augusta National to the literal ice of the NHL, as a pair of teams that may find themselves hitting the golf course early this spring square off.

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Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators are clinging to the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. A 10-2 stretch in their last 12 games has helped them achieve their place in the standings, though that’s not necessarily a harbinger of things to come. 

During this run of success for the Predators, they’ve created a total of 90 High-Danger Chances at even-strength, while their opponents have racked up 103. In fact, the Predators have earned just 45.7% of the Expected Goals at even-strength in these games. The reason they’ve been able to win games is due to their opponents’ inability to convert on those chances.

Preds goaltenders have held teams to a conversion rate of almost half the league average, allowing goals on just 7.7% of High-Danger Chances. Juuse Saros has settled into the No. 1 goaltender role that he struggled with at the start of the season. This has allowed veteran Pekka Rinne to play every third game, a more palatable usage for a goalie pushing 40 years old. 

The important takeaway, though, is that while the defense and goaltending has come to form, it’s currently performing at an unsustainable rate. Offensively, the Predators haven’t found some magic dust from a creation standpoint, but have instead perhaps ingested some magic beans in scoring on 13 of their 90 HDC at even-strength.

This 14.4% conversion rate has raised their season-long efficiency to 11%. This leads us to believe this is less of a run of success and more of a run of luck. 

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.

Detroit Red Wings

The Predators’ run almost ran ashore of the Detroit River Tuesday night, as the two teams split the 12 total even-strength High-Danger Chances in the game. The Predators converted on theirs, while the Red Wings didn’t. Even still, the Red Wings had a 2-1 lead going into the third period only to allow a power play goal that tied the game, which sent the game to overtime and a shootout, which the Predators one. 

While the Predators have had an impressive 12-game stretch to get themselves back into a playoff spot, the Red Wings are 6-8 in their last 14, which gave themselves some credibility in the market that they’ve been lacking all season long as the last-place team in the division. While the 6-8 mark isn’t overly impressive, a 5-2 home record going into the first game is a little more appealing in a home underdog. 

The biggest issue with the Red Wings and their defense-first system has been inconsistent goaltending. It had been consistently bad when anyone other than Jonathan Bernier was in the crease. However, Thomas Greiss has finally found his game, holding teams to two goals or fewer in regulation for five straight games. 

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Betting Analysis & Pick

As usual, a bet on this game comes down to price. My “Let’s Do That Hockey” model, as heard on THE WINDOW: Sports Betting Podcast, rates the Predators as exactly average at even-strength (even after their great 12-game run). The Wings are 9% below average in the same game conditions.

However, a portion of that difference can be made up with a small adjustment due to the Wings’ home-ice advantage. So, the model makes the true moneyline to be NSH -110/DET +110.

In order to get an edge worth betting on the underdog, we’ll need better than a 3% difference. Which means in this game, we’re looking for DET +130 to make this a play on the home underdog.

Pick: Red Wings (+130 or better)

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