Two more games went to overtime Wednesday, making it six of 13 overall over the past two days. With nine more games Thursday, we could see that trend spill over into the third day. It’s also worth noting that it’s a front-heavy schedule as six of nine games start at 7 pm ET.
As usual, we’re highlighting some of our favorite wagers from the NHL board at FanDuel Sportsbook!
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Moneyline: Lighting +116, Maple Leafs -140
Spread: Lightning +1.5 (-230), Maple Leafs -1.5 (+184)
Total (5.5): Over -115, Under -105
The Maple Leafs got off to a rocky start this season, losing five of their first seven games. They’ve turned things around over their recent sample, however, winning three straight. Toronto collides with Tampa Bay on Thursday night, also riding a three-game winning streak into the contest.
The Leafs have the advanced metrics working in their favor. Toronto has posted an expected goals-for percentage of 53.5% at five-on-five or better in three straight games, with a cumulative 63.4% rating over that span. The Leafs have weaponized their offense, attempting 85 scoring and 37 high-danger chances across all strengths over their previous two games. However, we have yet to see the heights this team can reach as they remain below average with a 0.975 PDO, implying they are progression candidates.
The Bolts are trending in the opposite direction, posting expected goals-for percentages below 50.0% in two of their past three. Their offense has stagnated, attempting just 22 high-danger chances at five-on-five over the three-game sample and just 34 scoring chances over the past two games. Output remains unaffected through the three games, as the Lightning have scored 13 goals over that span.
We’re anticipating some correction from the Lightning’s offense over the coming games, starting Thursday against the Leafs. The moneyline price should continue to shift in the Leafs’ favor so buy now.
The Pick: Maple Leafs -140
New York Islanders vs. Montreal Canadiens
Moneyline: Islanders -134, Canadiens +112
Spread: Islanders -1.5 (+176), Canadiens +1.5 (-220)
Total (5.5): Over +112, Under -138
The Canadiens looked out of their element in the early part of the season but have turned a corner with strong outings over their recent stretch. Conversely, the Islanders haven’t found their rhythm this season but have a winning record despite their inconsistent metrics.
The Islanders have posted an expected goals-for percentage above 50.0% at five-on-five in three of their seven games this season. Worse, the Islanders’ metrics dip even further when we consider their expected goals-for percentage across all strengths, as they have outplayed their opponents in just two games this season. Overall, New York has the 30th-ranked expected goals-for rate, with an actual percentage that ranks 16th in the league. That disconnect will result in fewer wins as the Islanders’ metrics balance out over the coming games.
From an analytics perspective, the Habs are in a much better space than the Islanders. Montreal has outplayed its opponents in three of its past four games, outscoring them 7-3 at five-on-five over that span. The Canadiens’ undoing has been their penalty kill, as they have allowed a combined five powerplay goals in their two losses over the past four games. A more disciplined effort from the Habs should help them limit an average Islanders’ powerplay.
We also can’t look past the Habs’ home-ice metrics. This season, Montreal has outplayed its opponents at five-on-five in all five home games, posting the seventh-best expected goals-for percentage overall.
The Habs have a significant advantage on home ice, and the Islanders are regression candidates. Montreal should be favored tonight, which makes backing them as plus-money underdogs an easy bet to make.
The Picks: Canadiens +112