This article is part of our NHL Picks series.
RotoWire's AJ Scholz takes a deep dive into his favorite bets ahead of Thursday's nine-game slate, including a look at the Moneyline, Puckline, total and player props with odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Picking the Favorite: The Flames enter Thursday's matchup with the Canadiens at an outrageous -400 ahead of Florida at -390 and Colorado -380 against Ottawa and Arizona, respectively. Even with that terrible return on investment, it is tempting to consider Calgary given how woeful Montreal has been all season. Still, it's not worth the risk for me, so instead, I would turn to Carolina at -130 to defeat Washington. For their part, the Caps could get back Anthony Mantha (shoulder) from a long-term absence but the Canes have been dominant this year which is why they sit atop the Metropolitan Division and will likely be rolling with Frederik Andersen, who is on a four-game winning streak, between the pipes.
Finding an Underdog: While I said it was tempting to use the Flames on one side, the prospect of getting +310 value with Montreal to pull off the upset is intriguing. Since the start of February, the Canucks have been averaging 4.10 goals per game (fourth highest in the league) and will return decent +105 value against the Islanders. It's certainly not the best value on the slate but getting more than even money for a safer bet than the Habs seems the smart play.
Covering the Puckline
Favorite Team to Cover: In this slate, the best option appears to be turning to the alternate Pucklin options. Specifically, taking the Flames at -2.5 goals to get to +105 value. Over their last 12 contests, Calgary has registered 4.50 goals per game while also allowing a mere 2.17 goals over the same stretch thanks in large part to Jacob Markstrom. This matchup screams blowout, and if you want to grab more value, you could even go as high as Flames -3.5 goals for +255.
Best of the Rest: In a similar strategy to capitalize on the expected one-side matchups, the Avalanche -2.5 goals at +115 is another spot to target. Led by world-class center Nathan MacKinnon, who is on an eight-game point streak including seven goals over that stretch, Colorado has been unstoppable offensively while getting decent netminding from Darcy Kuemper. Paying -150 to go with the standard -1.5 Puckline just isn't worth the risk, which is why I turned to the alternative Puckline again.
Betting the Total
Taking the Over: A mentioned above, the Flames are firing on all cylinders offensively with a total sitting at 6 at -125 on the over. Despite giving up a little juice, and the fact that Calgary may have to get there on its own, the fact that you can keep the push in the mix at 6 makes it a top target on this slate. To be frank, I'm also not entirely certain why the total in the Boston v. Vegas matchup is sitting at just 5.5. Sure, both clubs have been stout defensively of late but have star-studded lineups capable of racking up goals. You can get the over here at another decent -120 value.
Spotting the Under: Both the Flyers (vs. Minnesota) and Senators (vs. Florida) sit among the bottom three in goals for over the last month at 2.33 and 2.15 respectively. While the clubs are facing offensive powerhouses, the fact that these totals are both sitting at 6.5 seems high. The Senators v. Panthers matchup will get you +110 on the under while Flyers. v Wild comes in slightly lower at -120 but both bets are in play.
Favorite Player Props
Anytime Goal Scorer: Since the beginning of February, four players have tallied 10 goals, including Calgary's Elias Lindholm. As such, he remains the best option for anytime goalscorer, especially considering he comes in at +110 value in a fantastic matchup with Montreal. If you want to get crazy, you can get him as First Scorer for +950.
Shots on Goal: Sticking with the Flames here, Brady Tkachuk will return +100 value at over 3.5 shots. He has racked up 46 shots over the last 13 contests which comes in exactly at 3.5 per game. Another option would be to target Pittsburgh's Bryan Rust at over 3.5 for a +135 value. Similar to Tkachuk, the Penguins forward has 43 shots in his last 10 contests, including eight in his most recent outing. The matchup with the Lightning is no cakewalk but he should still be able to generate shots even if Andrei Vasilevskiy is able to keep them out of the back of the net.