The NHL season continues on Thursday night with another massive slate of games and this is one of the better cards in my opinion from a betting perspective in terms of finding good spots. and value with both the side and total market on the Thursday night NHL menu of games.
Vancouver Canucks @ Toronto Maple Leafs
I cashed a winning wager on the over in Vancouver’s last game against Montreal which was part of my Tuesday NHL betting preview article for Line Movement. I’m going back to that same bet here with the Canucks as they make the trip to Toronto to face the Leafs. You wouldn’t think about the Leafs being a team that is concerned about their offense but all the talk for Toronto entering this game since their Alberta trip ended on Saturday was that they needed to do a better job of spending more time in the offensive zone and getting more production at 5-on-5 even strength.
Much of the damage done by the Leafs offense during their four-game road trip against Calgary and Edmonton in which they went 3-0-1 in those games was on the power play but they didn’t have the level of offensive production they wanted at even strength. Vancouver’s leaky defense should be the tonic for the Leafs to get their even-strength offense rolling. On the other side of the equation, the Vancouver Canucks despite their struggles to keep the puck out of their own net haven’t had those same problems putting the puck in the net. The Canucks have tallied 3+ goals in 7 of their last 9 games and they will be facing a Leafs team that has allowed at least 3 goals in each of their last 3 games.
Vancouver/Toronto Over 6.5 -120
Ottawa Senators @ Montreal Canadiens
It is now nine losses in a row for the Ottawa Senators and things only get more difficult for them here against the red hot Montreal Canadiens who have lost just one in regulation this season in their first 10 games. The Senators haven’t played any defense and the goaltending is simply not good enough to bail out a blue line that continues to cough up the puck up too much and has suffered multiple breakdowns and gaffes in each game during this losing streak. The Senators have called up one of their promising prospects in defenseman Erik Brannstrom prior to this game and he might make his season debut for Ottawa in this game but he may require time to gel with this Sens blue line which is totally out of sorts at the moment.
This is a matchup of the NHL’s top-scoring team Montreal who are tops in the league in goals averaging 4.4 goals per game and facing Ottawa’s 31st ranked defense allowing a truly awful 4.8 goals per game this season. Montreal is 3rd in the NHL in most high danger scoring chances generated this season and that is likely to be trouble for Ottawa’s porous defense. Montreal has scored 4+ goals in 8 of their 10 games this season and Ottawa has yielded 4+ goals to their opponent in 8 straight games. I am placing a pair of bets here with Montreal on the puck line laying -1.5 goals at -130 and also Montreal’s team total over 3.5 goals.
Montreal PL -1.5 -130
Montreal Team Total Over 3.5 -150
Washington Capitals @ New York Rangers
The New York Rangers finally won a close game on Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins after a string of frustrating one goal losses in a row as they beat the Penguins 3-1 in what was the single best performance this season for New York. The Rangers offense has never been in question but it’s their defensive game that has been the source of their biggest problem the last couple seasons. New York got the lead against Pittsburgh on Monday and this time was able to protect it.
The win came just after the team parted ways with defenseman Anthony DeAngelo on the weekend as the organization placed him on waivers. DeAngelo had been struggling mightily on the defensive side of the puck and there were reports of some conflict between him and some of his teammates. It wasn’t totally a coincidence in my mind that the NY Rangers played one of their best games of the season in their first game without DeAngelo on the team. I think the Rangers might be a ‘bet on’ team right now with the distractions and off ice situation with DeAngelo now fully behind them.
Washington has gotten off to a strong start to the season in spite of the fact the Capitals have been forced to play the last several games shorthanded due to multiple players on the team being on the COVID-19 reserve list. Washington got Alex Ovechkin back a couple of games ago but the Capitals are still likely to be without several key players including forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov, Conor Sheary and Lars Eller, defenseman Justin Schultz and #1 goalie Ilya Samsonov. Washington coughed up a 3-0 lead to Boston and lost 5-3 to the Bruins as finally playing short-handed caught up to them.
New York has a better xG margin than Washington this season and the Rangers have generated more high danger chances and given up fewer high danger chances than the Capitals. Washington is definitely a bit fortunate to have accumulated the record they have gotten so far in spite of the absence while New York definitely deserves to have a better record than they have so far thanks to all of those close one-goal defeats. I like the value here with the NY Rangers and the momentum after getting a much-needed win against Pittsburgh.
NY Rangers -110
Dallas Stars @ Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t get the boost some were expecting on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars in what was the Jackets debut of Patrik Laine who played his first game in Columbus after the team acquired him in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets. Columbus lost 6-3 to Dallas on Tuesday but I expect the Jackets to be better here in the rematch and surely Laine will benefit from getting a game under his belt with his new team.
I think we’ll see much more on-ice cohesion for Columbus in this game. I also like this team to be undervalued from not only a side perspective moving forward but also a totals perspective. We already saw some more pace and rush chances from Columbus in their first game with Laine in the lineup on Tuesday night and I expect more of the same here. On the flip side, Dallas hasn’t had trouble scoring as they’ve scored at least 6 goals in three of their games this season and are trailing only Montreal for most goals per game in the NHL and that is despite Tyler Seguin having not played a single game yet for Dallas this season due to recovery from hip surgery. The Blue Jackets have yet to lose two straight home games this season and I like them to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss with a win. That game soared over the total and I see this game following suit.
Dallas/Columbus Over 5 -130
Arizona Coyotes @ St. Louis Blues
I went with Arizona as part of my Tuesday NHL betting preview article and the Coyotes fell short 4-3 in a loss to this St. Louis Blues team. I’m willing to give the Coyotes another shot here in the rematch between these two teams at another very attractive underdog price catching +145. Arizona outshot St. Louis 35-29 in that first meeting. St. Louis held a very slight edge in danger chances holding a 7-6 advantage in that category but otherwise it was a fairly even game between these two teams when they faced off on Tuesday night.
The St. Louis Blues have also developed a very concerning trend of being unable to beat the same team twice on home ice this season. St. Louis won the first game of each of their previous back-to-back home games against the same opponent (San Jose and Los Angeles) but they went on to lose the second game. Arizona didn’t play the type of lockdown defensive game they have been accustomed to playing in the last few seasons and I think they will look to tighten things up after they felt they allowed the Blues to have too many good chances and also took too many penalties which prevented them from getting into any sort of rhythm at 5-on-5 even strength. Arizona was a live dog on Tuesday and despite falling short, I think they are once again a value-laden side here at a sold plus price tag.