Handicapping the NHL: Thursday's Best Bets

Handicapping the NHL: Thursday's Best Bets

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 10-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: That the Leafs are only -145 favorites against the Stars comes as a bit of a surprise when you consider their offense has racked up six or more goals in five straight games and finally has Jack Campbell back from injury. In his two starts, Campbell was solid giving up just five goals on 66 combined shots (.924 save percentage). He was a little shaky in relief versus the Panthers on Tuesday but he should probably be given the benefit of the doubt considering it was the second game of a back-to-back and he was coming into the game cold. And let's face it, the Stars are not the Panthers. Getting the Leafs at a decent -145 on the Moneyline is a good value spot for among the favorites. 

Finding an Underdog: When you consider the Sabres are coming off a 4-2 win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday, getting +285 on the Moneyline for them to beat Carolina again seems a risk worth taking. In the last four games, against all potential playoff teams, Buffalo is 2-1-1 which includes a 5-3 loss to Florida that nearly saw the Sabres come back from down 4-1. This team is playing significantly better of late, thanks in part to Tage Thompson who has four points in those four games. 

Covering the Puckline

Favorite Team to Cover: Over the last two weeks, no team has struggled to produce offense more than Arizona which is converting at a 1.86 goals-per-game rate in its last seven outings. To that end, taking Vancouver to cover the Puckline at +140 value makes a lot of sense. For their part, the Canucks, led by Thatcher Demko, have given up just 2.67 goals per game over that same two-week stretch. Ultimately, Vancouver's ability to cover the -1.5 spread is going to come down to whether Arizona can generate any offense more than the ability of Vancouver to score. 

Best of the Rest: The second highest value on the slate in terms of the Puckline comes from the Oilers (-1.5) at +180 over the Kings. Of the three players to reach the 100-point threshold this season, two of them are on Edmonton in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who is also one of just two players to reach 50 goals this year as well. The value here is just too good not to back this dynamic duo to be able to rack up some goals Thursday. 

Betting the Total

Taking the Over: The Rangers and the Penguins have squared off twice in the last two weeks with the goal totals landing at six and five, so it would seem like a good time to potentially take the under with the total sitting at six for Thursday's matchup. Still, I would consider the over here considering it will return even money at +100 and the push is in play if it lands exactly on six. If the total were to shift again to 5.5, which it has been twice since yesterday, then the over will look even better, though you'll likely get less than even value. 

Spotting the Under: Looking again at the previous two weeks, two of the league's bottom-10 offenses are facing off in Seattle (2.50 goals per game) and Chicago (2.67 goals per game). Despite this, the total here is set at 6.5, which seems surprisingly high. Taking the under will require bettors to give up a little juice at -120. Given the inability of either team to score right now, it might make sense to target the alternate totals at 6 or even 5.5 which no doubt will produce good value once those odds are released. 

Favorite Player Props

Anytime Goal Scorer: There are no sure things in the NHL but Auston Matthews to score a goal is about as close as it gets. He comes in at -130 as anytime goalscorer, which isn't terrible considering he leads the league with 54 goals this year. He's rarely gone multiple games without a goal this year, so the fact that he failed to score against Florida on Tuesday only serves to further bolster my belief he'll find the back of the net against Dallas. 

Point Total: Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau is just three points away from becoming the fourth member of the 100-point club this season and is heading into a clash with the lowly Sharks on Thursday. His point total sits at 1.5 but brings back a fantastic +170 value. The 28-year-old winger has five multipoint games in his last eight contests and has scored 21 points in 29 career matchups with San Jose. 

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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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