SportsGrid NHL Model Picks for Saturday, February 17


Feb 17, 2024

Saturday is synonymous with hockey. It’s typically the busiest day of the week in the NHL, featuring a bevy of intriguing matchups. That leaves many in-roads for bettors looking for edges in the gambling market. 

To help players get a winning edge, we’re highlighting some of our favorite plays from the SportsGrid NHL Model.

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Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens Moneyline (+100): 5-Star Rating

The Washington Capitals’ playoff hopes are fading fast. Losers of two in a row and eight of their past ten, the Capitals have been relegated to 12th in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for them, our model projects those woes will continue against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night, giving the Habs a 69.7% chance of knocking off the struggling Caps. 

The Habs have outplayed their opponents for three straight games, but they have only one win to show for their renewed efforts. Over that modest stretch, Montreal has compiled a 54.7% expected goals-for percentage thanks to its improved play in both ends of the ice. The Canadiens are averaging 10.7 high-danger chances per game without getting out-chanced in any of those contests. 

The Capitals’ efforts this season reflect their underwhelming stretch of hockey. Washington ranks sixth-last in the NHL in expected goals-for rating, putting together a disheartening 46.4% benchmark. Predictably, their metrics take a hit on the road, with their expected goals-for percentage dropping to 44.3%.

Washington isn’t as good as their record implies, and this crash in the standings was expected. Worse, we’re anticipating the Capitals will suffer another heartbreaking loss as road favorites. Backing the Canadiens moneyline is rated as a five-star play. 

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Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues
Predators Moneyline (-105): 5-Star Rating

Two Central Division foes take to the ice for a crucial showdown with playoff implications. Both the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators are looking to solidify their position as postseason contenders. As it stands, the Blues have a four-point advantage over the Preds. But as our projections reveal, that gap should shrink before the night’s end. 

That’s because the Predators have a substantial advantage over their counterparts on Saturday night. Prior to Thursday’s debacle against the Dallas Stars, the Predators were kings of the jungle. Nashville had outplayed four of six opponents, yielding a 52.1% expected goals-for rating. More impressively, the team eclipsed the 60.0% threshold in three of those six outings. After a pair of underwhelming performances, we expect the Preds to return to that brand of hockey. 

Thankfully for Predators fans, the Blues can facilitate some of that progression. St. Louis has been outplayed in nine straight games. Across that span, they’ve compiled a disastrous 43.0% expected goals-for rating, the second-worst mark in the league. Further, they’ve been out-chanced in high-danger chances in all but one of those contests.

Analytically, these teams are in direct opposition to each other. This has been the worst stretch of hockey for the Blues this season, whereas the Predators are finding their analytics footing. We expect those trends to continue, with the Preds emerging victorious versus the Blues.

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Winnipeg Jets vs. Vancouver Canucks
Canucks Moneyline (-122): 5-Star Rating

Tonight’s docket concludes with a battle of Western Conference juggernauts at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks host the Winnipeg Jets as two of the top four teams in the conference collide for a pivotal showdown. The betting price has come down on the Canucks, creating a more prominent edge in backing the hosts. 

Vancouver has been on a tear lately. Since January 20, the Canucks have posted a 55.4% expected goals-for rating, fifth-best in the NHL over that stretch. As expected, that rating is being propped up with solid underlying metrics. Over that ten-game sample, the Canucks have accumulated a 55.5% scoring chance and 56.3% high-danger chance rating. More importantly, those efforts have precipitated a 7-1-2 record. 

Although the Jets have looked equally impressive lately, some cracks are starting to show in their metrics. Winnipeg has been out-chanced in scoring and high-danger chances in two of their past five, with opponents averaging 10.0 high-danger chances per game. Moreover, they have struggled to compete as the visitors, going 0-3-1 over their past four road games. 

The betting market gives the Jets a puncher’s chance in this one, but our analysis reveals a different angle. We’re expecting the Canucks to run away with his one, easily cashing as -122 chalk. 

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Thumbnail photo via Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

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