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 11-game slate, including a look at the Moneyline, Puckline, total and player props with odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Picking the Favorite: The Panthers are an unbelievable -650 heading into their matchup with the Red Wings and while that certainly makes sense given each team's respective record, it feels a suckers bet to me given the lack of value. Instead, I would turn to the Rangers in the battle of New York. The Blueshirts will return a solid -130 value to knock off the Islanders. While it may not be Igor Shesterkin between the pipes for the Rangers, Alexandar Georgiev is riding a six-game winning streak of his own during which he's sporting a 2.19 GAA. For their part, the Isles are averaging a meager 2.60 goals per game in the month of April and will likely struggle to produce offense.
Finding an Underdog: To be perfectly honest, it might be worth taking the Red Wings to pull off the upset at a ridiculous +450 value over Florida. They are missing their stud center Dylan Larkin (abdomen) but Detroit will get back its preferred No. 1 netminder Alex Nedeljkovic (illness) and the team still has Calder Trophy favorite Moritz Seider on the blue line. The Panthers have an upcoming back-to-back set with Toronto and Tampa Bay on Saturday and Sunday, so this matchup with Detroit could be a trap game. It's certainly a long shot, but the value is just too good to pass up at +450.
Covering the Puckline
Favorite Team to Cover: The Hurricanes are sitting at even money (+100) to cover the -1.5 Puckline versus Winnipeg, which is still a solid spot to take Carolina even though it's not the best Puckline value on the slate. The Canes are averaging 3.00 goals per game through nine April contests while the Jets may be without Connor Hellebuyck (illness) in goal and Mark Scheifele (upper body) among the forward ranks. This has all the makings of a one-sided rout in favor of Carolina.
Best of the Rest: San Jose has been unable to score goals for much of the season and that hasn't changed in April, as the team is producing just 2.33 goals per game over its last nine outings. Meanwhile, the Blues have the hottest offense in the league over the past month at 5.09 goals per game. The standard Puckline returns just +135 value and I would strongly consider looking at the -2.5 line in this one to return an even better value.
Betting the Total
Taking the Over: In what could be a playoff preview, the Lightning and the Maple Leafs will square off Thursday in a contest that has a total of seven with the over returning at +110. It's a high total but the fact that it keeps the push in play makes it worth targeting. Despite the absence of Auston Matthews, the offensive stars will still be out in full force with Toronto's Mitch Marner and Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.
Spotting the Under: The Flyers and the Canadiens have had two of the three most inept offenses this season, averaging only 2.56 and 2.52 goals per game respectively. As such, there seems no reason that the total should be sitting at six for this contest, especially with the possibility of Carey Price getting the starting nod. The under sits at -105 which includes a push possibility for six goals but I would rather get some positive value and move to the alternate total at 5.5 in this one.
Favorite Player Props
Anytime Goal Scorer: There are four players that have reached the 50-goal threshold this season but only one of them will be in action Thursday in New York's Chris Kreider. The Rangers will have a solid matchup in the Islanders, so I'm looking at Kreider in this spot considering he is a +115 value.
Power-Play Point: The Vancouver Canucks have the league's worst penalty kill this season at just 73.7 percent. As such, it would be a good opportunity to jump on some Minnesota Wild player props, starting with scoring over 0.5 power-play points. The team's leading producers with the man advantage are Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello with 26 and 27 power-play points respectively. You'll find them sitting at +155 for Kaprizov and +150 for Zuccarello to grab a power-play point in tonight's contest. If you want to go a little further into the odds, Jared Spurgeon is the quarterback of the Wild's No. 1 unit and will return a +320 value.