Sometimes sequels don’t live up to the hype of the original on the movie scene. Let’s hope things unfold a bit differently when it comes to the NHL sequels on tap on Thursday night’s schedule. Seven of the ten games taking place on Thursday night in NHL action are rematches involving the same two teams who faced off against each other in their previous game.
Let’s preview the Thursday slate and look for some edges that we can exploit from a betting perspective and hopefully turn those into profit.
Chicago Blackhawks @ Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets have taken a step forward in one area of their game but a big step backward in another. The offense has improved but the defense and goaltending have struggled quite a bit. As a result, the Jackets inconsistency has been an ongoing theme. They will look to avenge a 6-5 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night in a wild affair that saw the Blue Jackets erase 2-0 and 5-3 deficits to come back and tie the game two different times only to fall short and lose in a shootout. Columbus has lost four of their last five games but scoring goals hasn’t been the issue. Patrik Laine scored two power play goals in Tuesday night’s game. Oliver Bjorkstrand also had a pair of goals but the team has sacrificed sound defensive play for an improved scoring output.
The good news for them is they are facing a Chicago Blackhawks team that appears to be suffering from some inevitable regression on the defensive end of the ice. I stated in Tuesday’s article when writing about this game that Chicago had lowered their goals allowed per game this season with some improvement on defense but those figures weren’t all they were cracked up to be as the Blackhawks are still a bottom seven team in the NHL in high danger scoring chances allowed. This team should have been allowing more goals than they did early in the season and now we are seeing Chicago’s defensive struggles start to return as the team has allowed 5 goals in two straight games. Kevin Lankinen is cooling off as well after a strong start to the season in net for the Blackhawks. However, Chicago’s scoring prowess hasn’t been an issue as they have put in 3+ goals in five of their last six games and Patrick Kane is leading the way for them playing at an MVP level with 30 points in 20 games. I cashed with over 5.5 goals in the previous meeting on Tuesday and I expect more of the same here and I will also back Columbus to get the win here as they have dropped two straight games to the same team only once all season long.
Chicago/Columbus Over 5.5 -115
Dallas Stars @ Florida Panthers
The Florida Panthers have been one of the biggest surprises this season in the NHL entering this game at 12-5 on the season. However, Florida is coming off a 3-0 shutout loss to Dallas last night but the Panthers were the superior team statistically holding a decisive 1.88 to 1.08 xG margin and 7-3 edge in high danger scoring chances. Anton Khudobin was the difference as the Dallas goaltender was phenomenal turning aside all 43 shots from Florida for the shutout win. Florida is getting offense from a wide variety of different sources including Jonathan Huberdeau who has been fantastic with a team leading 23 points while the defense has seen significant improvement with the blue line not making as many mistakes with the puck and playing much better positional defense in their own zone. The Panthers are in a good spot to bounce back from yesterday’s loss and it’s worth noting that Florida is one of the few teams in the NHL that have yet to drop two straight games this season.
Meanwhile, Dallas is just 1-6 in their last 7 games and their offense has really stalled in recent games especially with the Stars playing without two of their best forwards with Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov both out due to injuries. The Stars have been right there in every single game as five of their last seven losses were single goal margins of defeat but the fact remains Dallas hasn’t been able to find ways to win very many of the close games they’ve been involved in this season. They’ve been badly outplayed in the first two games against Florida this week but are fortunate to be getting out of it with a 1-1 split. I think Florida picks up the win in this game as they are 5-0 off a loss this season and the price is relatively reasonable here with the Panthers who have been the superior team in both head-to-head meetings this week against the Stars.
New Jersey Devils @ Buffalo Sabres
I lost with New Jersey on Tuesday night against Buffalo as the Devils lost 4-1 at home to the Sabres but I am going back to the well with the Devils here in this one. Buffalo has actually defeated New Jersey twice this week already but I think New Jersey is the better of these two teams and will prove it in this game. The Sabres have not gotten their offense going all that much this season as they’re re averaging just 2.4 goals per game ranking them 27th in the NHL in scoring so far this season. Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall who are two of the most relied upon offensive weapons for Buffalo need to start putting the puck in the net as the dynamic duo hasn’t been so dynamic in that regard this season as the two have combined for just 3 goals this season in 16 games. Only two players on the entire Sabres team have scored more than 4 goals this season and those players are Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart which is alarming, to say the least. The defense hasn’t been terrible but not great either as the Sabres are 20th in the NHL in goals allowed per game. Buffalo’s power play has carried them as they are 3rd in the NHL with the man advantage but their 5-on-5 even-strength play isn’t anything to write home about.
New Jersey had notched two straight impressive road wins as big underdogs against the NY Rangers and Boston in their first two games after their lengthy COVID-19 season pause but they have lost three straight since then including two against Buffalo. There is still a lot to like with Jack Hughes finally playing like a #1 overall pick while Pavel Zacha, Miles Wood and Kyle Palmieri have provided some offense too with those players 26 points combined this season. The blue line has gotten better as P.K. Subban appears to be revitalized and playing better hockey after a subpar season last year. Damon Severson, Sami Vatanen, Ryan Murray, Dmitry Kulikov and Ty Smith round out a defense corps that has played better than expected this season and Mackenzie Blackwood has been rock solid all season in net. New Jersey is 4-3 on the road and Buffalo is 2-6 at home including three straight home losses. I will bet New Jersey here to finally get the better of Buffalo and prove the third time’s the charm.
New Jersey +100
Best of the rest of my NHL wagers for Thursday…
- Pittsburgh/Washington Over 6 -120
- Ottawa +145 (vs. Calgary)
- Detroit +140 (vs. Nashville)
- Montreal -130 (vs. Winnipeg)