NHL Odds: Will Devils’ Defense Stifle Capitals’ Offense?

Here's why New Jersey is favored over Washington

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We’re staring at an action-packed 10-game NHL slate Thursday. It’s an Eastern time zone-heavy schedule, with just two of the 10 games starting after 8 pm ET. Both underdogs won Wednesday night, balancing out the early-week favorites trend we were seeing. We have two more underdogs worth backing Thursday night as we break down a pair of games in our daily NHL Betting Guide.

These are the plays we’re looking at from FanDuel Sportsbook!

Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils
Moneyline: Capitals -126 | Devils +108
Spread: Capitals -1.5 (+205) | Devils +1.5 (-255)
Total: 6 Over -118 | Under -104

The Capitals’ team metrics are being propped up by one dominant game this season; otherwise, the Caps have been outplayed in two of three games on the campaign. Controlling possession and dictating play doesn’t need to be an emphasis when you have finishers like Washington. However, the Capitals will be outmatched against the Devils on Thursday.

Washington has been limited to a combined four (yes, four) high-danger scoring chances at five-on-five in two of its three games this season. The Colorado Avalanche limited the Caps to one quality chance in their most recent outing, and the New York Rangers held them to three in their season opener. Scoring chances and shots were also minimal, with Washington putting up 21 scoring chances and 17 shots against the Rangers, and 16 and 25, respectively, against the Avs.

The Devils have relied on improved coverage in their defensive zone this season to limit their opponents. In total, New Jersey’s first two opponents have put up a combined 42 scoring and 17 high-danger chances, with neither opponent cracking double-digit quality chances. That has resulted in an effective 91.1% save percentage and two wins to start the season for NJ.

This iteration of the Devils is paying early dividends, thanks also to efficient offensive zone metrics. The Devils have scored five high-danger goals at five-on-five and have generated 30 quality chances in two games. We’re expecting the Devils to maintain that production against the Capitals and move to 3-0-0 on the season.

The Picks: Devils +108

Calgary Flames vs. Detroit Red Wings
Moneyline: Flames -142 | Red Wings +120
Spread: Flames -1.5 (+188) | Red Wings +1.5 (-230)
Total: 5.5 Over -114 | Under -106

The Flames have strong analytics working in their favor, but they have lost back-to-back games to start the season. They make their first trip south of the border in over a year and a half to take on the Red Wings on Thursday night.

The Flames have been dominant at five-on-five, posting the league’s best expected goals-for percentage at 64.7%. In reconciling that with their actual outcomes, it highlights two issues that have long been the Achilles’ heel of the Flames, questionable goaltending and special teams.

Jacob Markstrom has played 45 games in a Flames jersey, stopping 90.3% of shots faced, 83.4% of powerplay shots faced, resulting in -5.7 goals saved above average. Calgary had the 11th-worst powerplay last season and finished middle of the pack in penalty killing. Special teams have picked up where they left off, as the Flames are 1-for-7 with the man advantage while allowing opponents to score on 3-of-6 powerplays.

The Red Wings are off to an excellent start to the 2021-22 season, recording points in their first three games. Detroit is getting it done on both ends of the ice. Thomas Greiss has been a stalwart, stopping 96.9% of shots through two starts, while the Wings are scoring 14.1% of their shots. Red Wings’ skaters have put up 16 or more quality chances across all strengths in two of three games this season, with six of their 13 goals coming from high-danger areas. Detroit is on an unsustainable path, but they get an ideal matchup against a Flames team that struggles to limit scoring.

A lot has to go right for the Flames to walk away victorious on Thursday night, and it’s not worth backing them at the current price. We’re taking a shot with the underdog Red Wings on home ice as they look to continue their torrid start.

The Picks: Red Wings +120

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