The NHL action this Saturday doesn’t have too many attractive moneylines, but there is value in a couple of pucklines and over/unders, which should help us be as profitable as we were last week.
Last time out, we hit on the Islanders at +125 vs the Rangers, and got the OVER 6 (-102) correct in that game, too. The Ducks and Kings also gave us the OVER 5.5 (+113) we were looking for, but the Bruins unfortunately just missed the puckline of -1.5 (+215) when they only beat the Habs 4-3. Not too shabby. Let’s try and replicate that this week, focusing on: Minnesota hosting Tampa Bay, a team that looks to be struggling without Victor Hedman; the Islanders visiting the Blackhawks in a battle of offensively powerful, yet inconsistent teams; and the Jets traveling West to face the red-hot Flames in Calgary.
Tampa Bay Lightning (-123) vs. Minnesota (+111)
It’s safe to say that the lightning are not feeling very bolt-ish the last few days. Not only were they blown out in their last two games, but they’re quickly learning what life is like without top defenseman Victor Hedman. That makes the moneyline on this matchup intriguing.
So far this season, Tampa (31-11-3) haven’t lost more than two games in a row, but their lack of scoring over the last two games (2 goals-for) and their poor defense (9 goals-against) are concerning.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild (24-17-5) are 6-2-2 over their last ten games and 15-4-4 overall at home. The Wild will have had six days to think about their stinging loss to the Vancouver Canucks (3-2) last Sunday. Coming off their bye-week, they’re looking to get back on the winning track and hoping to take advantage of a Lightning team that might not be as electric as it once was.
Overall Tampa has been great on the road (14-6-2) and provided us with some of the best ROI this season. But this could easily be the start of a mid-season skid, something that happen to even the best of teams at this time of year.
Could it just be a blip on the radar? Possibly. The Lightning have spent the majority of the season being the best team in the NHL on both offense (3.56 GF/GP) and defense (2.53 GA/GP), and their lineup still features all the firepower that got them to this point.
The last time these two teams faced each other Tampa was able to shutout the Wild 4-0, but this game is going to be a lot closer. The key to victory could be special teams. The Lightning power-play is clicking at 24.4% (4th-best in the league) while the Wild have been great on the penalty kill at 83.2% (8th-best in the league).
Betting Advice: If the Wild can stay out of the penalty box, play stingy, defensive hockey, and get quality goaltending from Devan Dubnyk, they could eke out a win here. That’s a solid moneyline of +111 on Minny.
The puckline of -1.5 (+238) on Tampa is tempting but let’s stick to our guns on a close one-goal game.
As for the game total (O/U 5.5 goals), stay away. This could easily be a low-scoring affair as Minnesota will play it tight and the Lightning will need to focus on being better defensively. But Tampa could just as easily wake up from its scoring slump and fill the net.
Moneyline Bet: Minnesota Wild (+111), available at BetOnline. [See BetOnline sportsbook review.]
New York Islanders (+135) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (-149)
The Islanders (23-20-4) came through for us last week, not only on the moneyline but also on the OVER. However, just when you thought the Isles were going to hit their stride, they dropped two straight at home to New Jersey and Boston. Now they face the Chicago Blackhawks (22-17-6), a similarly up-and-down team that’s prone to alternating wins and losses. The Hawks are 5-5 over their last ten, despite averaging 3.3 GPG in that span.
The Isles have made inconsistency an art form this season, and are trending down on the whole. They are just 3-7 in their last ten and have given up a whopping 44 goals during that stretch. New York is the second-highest scoring team in the league (3.36 GPG) but is dead-last in goals against (3.66 GAA).
Chicago, meanwhile, has been pretty good defensively this season (2.71 GAA) even though the team has been without starting goalie Corey Crawford (vertigo) since December 26th. Since Crawford’s injury, Jeff Glass has stepped in and played reasonably well, going 3-2-1 with a .910 save percentage and 3.18 GAA, but the Hawks still seem vulnerable on the back end without their starter.
This is the first time these two teams have clashed this season. The last time they played each other was back in March of 2017 when the Hawks beat the Isles 2-1 at home.
Betting Advice: This is a tough game to call as both teams have the potential to score a lot and give up a lot. The goaltending situation is something of a wash, and I don’t trust either netminder to play lights-out, not facing shooters like Patrick Kane, John Tavares, and Rookie of the Year favorite Mathew Barzal. The advanced metrics also favor a high-scoring game — Chicago averages 34.6 shots per game, for instance — and the sportsbooks have taken notice. The O/U currently sits at a high 6.5, but it’s very plausible that this game ends 4-3 or 5-3. Take the OVER.
OVER/UNDER Bet: OVER 6.5 (-108), available at Pinnacle.
Winnipeg Jets (+108) vs. Calgary Flames (-119)
Get the fire extinguisher because here come the Calgary Flames (25-16-4), who are as hot as their team name suggests. Having reeled off seven wins in a row, the Flames welcome a Winnipeg Jets (26-13-7) team coming off two disappointing losses to Chicago and Minnesota a week ago. Fresh off their bye/Hawaii vacays, the Jets are looking to get back to their winning ways.
Unfortunately, the Jets are facing a team that they don’t match up well against. Calgary is 5-1 straight up in its last six against The Peg, and the last time they met, the Flames smacked the Jets 6-3 in Calgary. I’m predicting a similar result.
It’s not like the Flames have been world beaters at the Saddledome (12-11-0) but they are en fuego right now and are finally getting solid goaltending out of Mike Smith. With all the talent they have on the blueline, decent goaltending is all they need to be one of the top defensive units in the league, and they are certainly trending in that direction. Their defensive prowess will be tested against a Winnipeg offense that has been pretty lethal this season (3.30 GPG), but they won’t have to deal with the Jets’ no. 1 center, Mark Scheifele, who remains on the shelf with a (dreaded) upper-body injury.
Betting Advice: The moneyline on this game is mediocre, but there’s value on the O/U and the puckline. The OVER at 5.5 (-105) is a likely scenario, as the total has gone OVER in six of Calgary’s last eight home games against the Jets. Calgary’s puckline of -1.5 (+241) is also attractive given (a) how hot they are, and (b) how the last matchup between these two went.
Puckline Bet: Flames -1.5 (+241), available at Pinnacle.
OVER/UNDER Bet: OVER 5.5 (-105), available at Pinnacle.