Saturday’s NHL Slate Breakdown: Expert Best Bets For 13-Game Slate

Saturday’s NHL Slate Breakdown: Expert Best Bets For 13-Game Slate article feature image

Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  • Saturday's NHL slate features 13 games, including a Stadium Series matchup between the Hurricanes and Capitals.
  • Nick Martin came through with three best bets for Saturday, including picks for Devils vs. Penguins and Lightning vs. Golden Knights.
  • Check out all three of his best bets for Saturday's NHL slate below.

The NHL's 13-game Saturday slate features a ton of excellent matchups, with a number of sides offering strong value in exciting games.

Let's dive into my favorite widely available plays in my NHL best bets for Saturday, Feb. 18.

Devils ML -125 vs. Penguins

Over a significant sample size of 21 games, the Penguins have allowed 3.61 goals against per game. Their inability to keep the puck out of the net has led to a record of 8-7-3 since the calendar flipped to 2023. Now, it seems that the mighty Penguins finally missing the playoffs is a clear possibility.

In the last 10 games, Pittsburgh has played to the league's fourth-worst xGA/60 rating at 4.02. That flaw has been particularly hard to hide with Tristan Jarry sidelined. With Casey DeSmith playing last night against the Islanders, we will likely see third-stringer Dustin Tokarski start for the Pens on Saturday.

In particular, the Penguins have been exposed defensively off of the rush, which is an area where the Devils excel. That's especially true with potential MVP candidate Jack Hughes in the mix, and Hughes is expected to make his return tonight.

This sets up as a tough spot for the Pens to hang in with Tokarski in goal, and I believe -125 is a good number to target a Devils win.

Lightning ML -125 vs. Golden Knights

The Lightning have learned to keep a lot of gas in the tank for the postseason, and accepting some complacency is part of the game when backing Tampa Bay — especially as it's essentially locked in with Toronto in Round 1.

Tampa got embarrassed last time out in a 1-0 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Now, it will be highly engaged in this contest versus a strong Vegas side.

There's a meaningful gap between the top Eastern Conference sides and the top Western Conference teams this season, and I believe Tampa will continue to illustrate that point here.

The Lightning have posted a 19-6-2 record versus the West, and I believe that stat holds relevancy in this matchup as we consider whether or not -125 is the right number.

I make Tampa a larger favorite than -125, particularly with Andrei Vasilevskiy starting in net against Vegas' Adin Hill. Plus, Erik Cernak is the only name on the Lightning's injury report.

With Mark Stone sidelined, Vegas doesn't have an appealing line match for the Lightning's top forward unit of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Brandon Hagel. I'm counting on a bounce-back from that trio.

This sets up as a good spot to back Tampa, and I like the spot coming off the embarrassing loss in Arizona.

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Tage Thompson Over 3.5 Shots On Goal (+122)

For much of this season, Thompson to record four shots on goal at +122 would've been considered a gift. He's likely trending toward a significant upswing in terms of shot production, which makes me believe +122 is a tremendous price to buy low.

Thompson has fallen into a rut with his shot production totals, averaging only 2.63 shots per contest. over his last 10 games.

That's an abnormally low number for Thompson based on what he's shown over the last 1.5 seasons. Although, he had been fighting through an injury prior to the All-Star break.

He has looked more like himself over the first two games of Buffalo's California swing, firing 14 attempts on goal with 12 going as unblocked attempts.

San Jose has allowed the 10th-most shot attempts per 60 minutes (32.5) over its last 10 games, making the Sharks a very reasonable team to target with this prop.

Watching Thompson in top form is a blast, so let's have some fun by rooting for his return to dominance tonight against the Sharks.

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