NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 8/6/20

The bevy of NHL action continues on Thursday with five games on the go! Four of the six games on yesterday's card stayed under the total, and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues or if teams start taking more offensive chances with mounting pressure to win.

Here are a few picks from today's action.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Over 5.5 (+115): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

Goals have been hard to come by in the Columbus Blue Jackets-Toronto Maple Leafs series. These teams split the opening two games, with Columbus winning 2-0 in Game 1 before Toronto evened things up with a 3-0 win in Game 2.

Toronto and Columbus are both substantially off their respective season-long shooting and save percentages. During the regular season, Toronto and Columbus were scoring on 10.3% and 7.9% of their shots, respectively. Since the relaunch, the numbers have been more than halved, dropping to 4.5% and 3.6%, respectively. Consequently, this has inflated save percentages beyond normal ranges, as well. As these stats start to balance out, expect a few higher-scoring games to follow.

The Leafs also displayed a tendency to go over the total, with 40 of their 70 games throughout the season topping the number. It's also worth considering that Toronto's games generally had higher totals, with totals in the 6 to 7 range. Toronto still managed to go over in the majority of their games thanks to their dynamic offense. Don't expect Auston Matthews and company to remain stifled for too long.

The floodgates don't have to burst open for this game to eclipse the 5.5 mark set at FanDuel Sportsbook. Making things even more enticing is the +115 price on the over, which is a 2-star play, per our projections.

St. Louis Blues vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Blues moneyline (+100): 4-Star Rating Out of 5

Blues +1.5 (-300): 5-Star Rating Out of 5

The defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues were snakebitten in their first game back, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Colorado Avalanche thanks to Nazem Kadri's game winner with 0.1 seconds left. They'll hope for a few lucky bounces when they host the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.

St. Louis was leading the Western Conference by a wide margin when the season was paused back in March. Goaltending, team defense and opportunistic offense are the hallmarks of the Blues' system. These tendencies continued in their most recent matchup, as they limited Colorado to 15 scoring chances and 3 high-danger chances at 5-on-5. Their suffocating defense will be critical to their playoff success.

St. Louis had seven different players with 30-plus points and 11 players with 10-plus goals this season. Balanced scoring is key in the postseason, and once their offense finds its rhythm, it won't be long before they're back to their winning ways.

Vegas has had one of the more potent offenses this season. They lead the league in scoring chances and high-danger chances, which resulted in the second-most goals in the Western Conference. The problem is that their aggressive approach on offense can lead to odd-man rushes against, which is where the Blues thrive.

The Golden Knights gave up 27 scoring chances, including 15 high-danger chances against, in their first game back. Don't expect the Blues to miss when those opportunities present themselves.

Playoff hockey is known for its intensity, and I don't expect this game to disappoint. St. Louis' opportunistic offense and sound defensive structure might be too much for the Golden Knights to handle. Our algorithm gives a substantial advantage to the Blues, handing them a 67.5% chance of winning. Considering the Blues are listed as underdogs at +100, we rate taking them on the moneyline as a 4-star play.

Winnipeg Jets vs. Calgary Flames

Jets moneyline (+145): 4-Star Rating Out of 5

The Winnipeg Jets' backs are against the wall on Thursday night as they take on the Calgary Flames in a must-win game

Winnipeg's defense has been up to snuff so far this postseason. They've limited Calgary to 6.3 high-danger chances and 24.7 scoring chances per game through three games. One of the problems impacting the Jets' success has been an unreliable Connor Hellebuyck.

Hellebuyck will need a bounce-back effort after a deflating Game 3 performance. His save percentage and high-danger save percentage were well below average, leading to five goals against. To put it more plainly -- Hellebuyck will need to be better for the Jets to win on Thursday night.

Calgary's offense has seen a resounding improvement over regular season numbers. The Flames' goals-per-game clip has gone up thanks to their improved shooting percentage. However, these increases are contraindicated in some of their advanced metrics.

The Flames have created fewer scoring chances and high-danger chances on fewer shots compared to their regular season numbers, yet output has increased. Their production has also been buoyed by an impressive power play. But power-play production can be an unreliable crutch. If Winnipeg avoids penalties, Calgary's few scoring opportunities will decrease.

Winnipeg will need a more disciplined effort as well as a bounce-back game from Hellebuyck if they want to avoid elimination. Our algorithm gives them the advantage with a 54.4% chance of forcing a Game 5. Relative to the betting market, where they are currently listed as +145 underdogs, there is a substantial advantage in taking them on the moneyline. We rate it as a 4-star play.