NHL Betting Previews: Finding Value in Red Wings-Capitals, Canadiens-Wild
Marc DesRosiers, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Max Domi, Carey Price
There are 10 games in the NHL tonight and there are some big prices out there. At the time of writing, there are four teams at +170 or above.
It’s been a good season for big underdogs in the NHL this season. Per Bet Labs (which uses the Pinnacle closing number), underdogs priced at +170 or above have gone 31-43 for (+18.79 units, 25.4% ROI) in 2018-19.
That doesn’t mean you should automatically bet big underdogs as that will definitely regress as the season goes on. In fact, if you blindy bet “big” dogs (+170 or higher) over the past four seasons, you’d be down 59 units.
Anyway, I still think this trend will be worth checking in on as the season progresses because the gap between the league’s “great” teams and its “bad” teams is a lot smaller than the market has been suggesting this season. The good news, as it always is with betting NHL, is that the betting handle still is dwarfed by other sports so the lines aren’t as sharp.
All odds via The Action Network App at 12:30 p.m. ET.
NHL value plays: 26-24, +11.38 units
Detroit Red Wings (+235) at Washington Capitals (-275)
The Red Wings are on a back-to-back and are deservedly big underdogs in Washington tonight.
Despite these wide odds, the Red Wings and Capitals actually have pretty similar underlying metrics. They both are below 50% in terms of Corsi Rating (CF%), high-danger scoring chance (HDC) % and expected goals (xG) %.
This isn’t to say these two teams are on level pegging. Washington’s roster is dripping with talent and Detroit’s is not, but there’s a real chance that the Wings can hang around this game. There are worse matchups than the Capitals, despite their 17-9-1 record, for the Red Wings.
If you’re betting on the Wings that doesn’t mean you think they will win — they are very likely to lose (these odds suggest they have ~29% chance of winning), but that doesn’t make it a bad bet. This number has just got too wide and I’d suggest playing Detroit at +210 or above.
The Bet: Detroit Red Wings +235
Montreal Canadiens (+140) at Minnesota Wild (-160)
This matchup features two of the best defensive units in the league in terms of expected goals.
Under Bruce Boudreau, the Wild have excelled at limiting scoring opportunities and this season is no different. Minnesota allows 1.95 xGA/60 at 5v5, which is the second-best mark in the NHL behind Tampa Bay. A look at Minnesota’s heat map shows just how good its been at keeping shots to the outside.
Claude Julien’s Bruins teams were also great at limiting chances and Montreal is starting to reflect that. The young Habs are giving up the 2.09 xGA/60, sixth-fewest in the NHL. Defense isn’t the only thing the Canadiens are excelling at, as they generate 2.52 xGF/60, which is the sixth-most in the league.
The problem for both of these teams is that they have been let down by their goaltending. Devan Dubnyk has been one of the league’s worst goalies in terms of Goals Saved Above Average this season and his .907 5v5 save percentage is well short of his .930 expected save percentage. The situation for the Habs isn’t much better as Antti Niemi will be in net and I trust him about as far as I could throw him.
However, I think the price on the Canadiens, a team that will put Minnesota’s defensive wizardry to the test, is a little too high to pass up but I wouldn’t play them lower than +135.
The Bet: Montreal Canadiens +140