Handicapping the NHL: Thursday's Best Bets

Handicapping the NHL: Thursday's Best Bets

This article is part of our Handicapping the NHL series.

RotoWire's AJ Scholz takes a deep dive into his favorite bets ahead of Thursday's 11-game slate, including a look at the Moneyline, Puckline, total and player props with odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook

Moneyline Targets

Picking the Favorite: Despite the injury to Aleksander Barkov, who is considered week-to-week with a lower-body issue, the Panthers remain the biggest favorites on the board at -185 to win over the Devils, though the Flames aren't far behind at -180 despite playing on the road in Buffalo. Among the favorites, the most value can be pulled out of the Lightning at -135 going up against the Flyers. The Bolts' Andrei Vasilevskiy is undefeated in regulation in his last eight outings during which he's posted a 5-0-3 record and 1.71 GAA. Philadelphia isn't exactly blowing out opponents right now either, considering it hasn't scored more than two goals six straight games. As such, it's a little surprising to see Tampa Bay at just -135, so don't be surprised to see this line move throughout the day. 

Finding an Underdog: With a dozen games to pick from, there are certainly plenty of ways to get some value out of the underdogs. You could swing for the fences and take New Jersey at +160, you could fade the two-time defending champions and take the Flyers at +115 or you can try to land somewhere in the middle, which is where I find myself looking. In Pittsburgh, the Penguins are reeling on the heels of massive blowouts at the hands of the Senators (6-3) and Capitals (6-1) followed by an embarrassing defeat to the lowly Sabres (2-1) on Tuesday. The Habs are hardly faring any better this season and will likely be forced to lean on Samuel Montembeault between the pipes, but there may be no better time to fade Sidney Crosby and company than now at +125 value on Montreal. 

Covering the Puckline

Favorite Team to Cover: I've already mentioned the lowly Flyers' offense, so let's turn to the otherwise of the ice and talk about the Lightning attack. Over its past five games, the offense has produced 14 goals led by Steven Stamkos (three). With their star in the crease, Tampa Bay might be able to cover the -1.5 Puckline with simply a 2-0 win here. Getting outrageous +175 value for the Lightning to cover is unlikely to happen too many more times this year, so jump on this one now.  

Best of the Rest: Two weeks ago, there wasn't much that stood out to me in terms of the Puckline but that's certainly not the case tonight. Edmonton (+155) versus Winnipeg,  Calgary (+145) against Buffalo and Florida (+145) to cover versus New Jersey are all in play. If I had to pick just one, I would lean into the Edmonton matchup, though a three-leg parlay would net you fantastic +1430 value on the DraftKings Sportsbook. Toss in the Lightning as well and you are looking at +4109 for a four-pack that really isn't that far-fetched. 

Betting the Total

Taking the Over: For now, there are no games on the slate with more than a 6.0 total, which includes four options to hedge a push. Having said that, I'd always consider the alternate lines to take more risk while getting better value which is where I landed with the Jets v. Oilers matchup. Over 6 returns just -120 but conceding the extra half a goal will get you to +105. Since the start of November, these two clubs are averaging a combined 7.14 goals, including an Edmonton power play that is converting at 37.5 percent over its last eight matchups. 

Spotting the Under: Looking again at the month of November, the Penguins and Canadiens rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in fewest goals per game. You'll have to give up a little juice at -120 but you do have the push in play at under 6. While you can always consider the alternate lines to get more value, this might be one spot I would consider staying with the main total, especially if the goalie gets pulled in a 3-2 game. 

Favorite Player Props

Anytime Goal Scorer: Dallas' Joe Pavelski is currently riding a seven-game point streak during which he has picked up a trio of goals. Grabbing him to score a goal in Thursday's clash with the Wild at +210 seems like tremendous value when you have a guy on top of his game right now. 

Another Goal Scorer:  In addition to Pavelski, another red-hot player right now is Steven Stamkos of the Lightning who has goals in three of his last four outings. You can get him at the anytime goalscorer odds at +155 but if you are looking for some riskier odds with a higher return, Stamkos will give you +1000 as the first scorer of the game. If anybody is going to lead off the game's scoring, Stamkos is unquestionably the favorite for a reason. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AJ Scholz
Co-Host of PuckCast with Statsman and AJ and unabashed Penguins fan.
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