Sometimes quality over quantity is the best recipe and formula for winning as a sports bettor and handicapper. That statement proved to be true on Tuesday as I recommended 2 plays on the Tuesday NHL card earlier this week with that article here at Line Movement. I notched the perfect 2-0 sweep with winners on the Florida Panthers in regulation against the Detroit Red Wings and Over 5.5 in the game between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings.
It’s time to look ahead to a massive 10 game NHL betting card on Thursday night featuring several intriguing matchups as I’ll look to uncover some more winning wagers for our readers.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Florida Panthers
The battle of the sunshine state has some extra anticipation with the Florida Panthers getting off to a surprising 7-3 start to the season but the competition is about to get much tougher against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The top two teams in the Central Division will be facing off here. Florida has been getting it done at both ends of the ice averaging over 3 goals per game led by the dynamic talents of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, and Patric Hornqvist who have all notched at least 10 points this season.
Carter Verhaeghe who won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay last season and is now with the Florida Panthers has proven worthy of being given a top-line role by head coach Joel Quenneville with this team as he has registered 6 goals and 9 points in 10 games. The biggest factor to the fast start for Florida is their improvement defensively to this point. The Panthers have struggled for years to keep the puck out of their own net but have allowed just 2.7 goals per game putting them in the top half of the league with the fewest goals allowed this season. It’s a sizable improvement from where they were just a season ago.
Markus Nutivaara and Radko Gudas were added on the blue line to provide more of a defensive-minded presence on their back end to help their cause at that end of the ice. Their defensive structure has been better and so has the goaltending from the duo of Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger. However, Florida’s four opponents this season to this point have been Chicago, Columbus, Detroit (four games against them), and Nashville. All four of those teams are ranked 20th or worse in the NHL in goals per game scored this season. That isn’t Tampa Bay who are 2nd in the league in goals per game and are loaded with four potent forward lines that can score goals and a mobile, puck-moving defense that adds to the offense. This will be the true litmus test for Florida’s defensive improvement early in the season. I’m not sure they are ready for it.
Tampa Bay has scored at least 4 goals in five of their last six games. The Lightning have scored 4 or more goals in six of the last seven meetings against the Panthers as well. I’m on the Tampa Bay Lightning Team Total in this game Over 3.5 goals.
Tampa Bay Team Total Over 3.5 -130
Ottawa Senators @ Winnipeg Jets
The Winnipeg Jets return home in what will be the first game in Winnipeg for Pierre-Luc Dubois as a member of the Jets as they host the Ottawa Senators. This is the fourth encounter of the season between these teams. Winnipeg swept the three consecutive games played against Ottawa earlier this season outscoring them 14-7 in the three wins. The Jets shouldn’t be in a position to overlook the Sens here in this spot with Winnipeg coming off a 3-2 loss to Calgary on Tuesday night. Dubois did not register a shot on goal and had a -1 in his Jets debut against the Flames but he said after the game that getting his timing back would take at least one game to get back in rhythm and I would expect him to be better here with a game under his belt and the Jets team with him in the lineup should be better and more cohesive as well as they take on the Senators in this game. The Jets have tremendous center ice depth now with Scheifele, Stastny, Dubois, and Lowry down the middle. Their top-six forwards have been very good providing significant offensive production for them.
On the flip side, Ottawa’s effort has been there lately but the results still haven’t been. The Sens have lost 12 of their last 13 games and were on the losing end of back-to-back games against the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week. Ottawa has carried the play in several games but they aren’t cashing in on their opportunities as their offense continues to sputter with the team held to 4 goals in their last 3 games. The Sens defense and goaltending hasn’t been good enough to make up for the offensive woes even with Matt Murray playing markedly better in between the pipes in recent games.
Winnipeg is currently in the -140 price range to win this game in regulation time and that’s what I’m going with in this North Division battle. Winnipeg is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings against Ottawa.
Winnipeg In Regulation -140
Detroit Red Wings @ Nashville Predators
During the course of a long NHL season, sometimes you have to go big dog hunting and the Detroit Red Wings are that big dog I have selected to go hunting with on the Thursday night NHL betting board as they face the struggling and extremely overpriced massive favorite that is the Nashville Predators in this game.
Nashville is 1-5 in their last six games only scoring 9 goals in 5 games aside from their 6 goal outburst against Florida which looks like an outlier at this point. The Predators suffered through a significant decline in their defensive play last season and that has carried over to this season with the blue line weakened and not as good as some of those terrific Nashville defensive teams of the past decade. The Predators are 25th in the NHL in goals allowed and their special teams have been anything but special. Nashville is a dreadful 22nd on the power play and their penalty kill is even worse ranked 31st dead last in the NHL. There isn’t a single area of the game where Nashville can claim to be solid right now.
Detroit has only 3 wins this season but the Red Wings do appear to be getting better as they defeated the Panthers 4-1 last weekend and although they lost 2-1 in the rematch against Florida, they had the edge in shots 32-22 and in high danger scoring chances 4-2 as well as a 1.36 to 1.04 xG margin. Detroit has had an uncanny amount of recent success against Nashville going 10-2 in the last 12 meetings against them including winners of six straight games in Nashville for the Red Wings over the Predators. Nashville doesn’t merit this price tag of -190 and that is reason enough to take a shot with this potentially very live road underdog.
Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks will hope a return to the cozy confines of home ice at Rogers Arena in Vancouver will turn around the fortunes for a team that has had a very rough start to the season. The Canucks will play their first game back home after a winless four game road trip against Montreal and Toronto. Vancouver’s main problem has been defense but the Canucks are coming off a better defensive effort in the finale of their road trip against Toronto in a 3-1 loss where they outshot the Leafs 32-19 and kept the potent Toronto offense intact for the most part. Unfortunately, Vancouver couldn’t finish off enough of their chances and a couple mistakes with the puck and in defensive zone coverage came back to bite the Canucks with the two 3rd Period goals they surrendered which was the difference in the game.
Calgary has won two straight games against Edmonton and Winnipeg. Their top players like Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have had bounce back seasons so far and Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm have double figures in points as well. The Flames defeated the Canucks twice last month winning by a combined score of 8-2 but those games were in Calgary. The Flames have still been a lackluster road team at 2-4 on the season. Vancouver is 5-2 at home and we’ve seen the betting markets start to devalue the Canucks based on their poor start. I think this is an excellent ‘buy low’ spot on Vancouver following one of their better games in a while. They didn’t get the winning result in that game. I think they might get it here.
I have a lot of betting opinions on this card. Here are my other wagers for Thursday’s NHL slate…
Pittsburgh -110 (vs. NY Islanders)
Columbus -105 (vs. Chicago)
Columbus/Chicago Over 5.5 -110
San Jose/Los Angeles Over 5.5 -125