NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 1/14/21
Opening night in the NHL was everything we hoped for and so much more. Goals, fisticuffs, overtime and more goals. Thursday night is shaping up to be no different, with 10 games on the go. That means there's plenty of wagering options up at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Here are a few bets worth making!
Golden Knights moneyline (-210): 2-Star Rating Out of 5
Golden Knights -1.5 (+125): 1-Star Rating Out of 5
Thursday's matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Anaheim Ducks has all the makings of a David-versus-Goliath story. Only in the Vegas-Anaheim version of the story, Goliath (the Golden Knights) beats David (the Ducks) unmercifully.
Vegas had all the metrics working in their favor last season, dominating possession, shots and scoring chances -- both from an absolute and relative perspective. Those metrics were accentuated on home ice, where Vegas was light years ahead of their opponents. They finished the season with an expected goals for percentage of 58.1%, which was 2 percentage points higher than the next closest team. At the end of the regular season, the Knights had an actual goals for percentage of 52.8% -- which implies that progression, in the form of more goals and wins, awaits the Golden Knights on home ice this season.
Anaheim was on the opposite end of the spectrum, particularly as the away team. They finished last season with the third-worst expected goals for percentage. Their actual goals for percentage was in excess of what was expected, which implies that the Ducks are regression candidates. The highest-scoring Duck, Adam Henrique, finished last season with a paltry 43 points, and none of their top-12 scorers have a positive plus/minus. Whichever metric or stat you look at, the Ducks don't have a lot working in their favor.
The gap between Vegas and Anaheim is substantial. Vegas holds an advantage in every measurable statistic, as evidenced by their six scorers who outscored the Ducks' top point-getter. This line will likely move in the Golden Knights' favor as we get closer to puck drop, so if you like the Knights, get on them sooner rather than later. According to our algorithm, there's an advantage taking them on the moneyline and to cover the puck line. We rate those wagers as two- and one-star plays, respectively.
Jets moneyline (+100): 2-Star Rating Out of 5
Connor Hellebuyck's value to the Winnipeg Jets can't be understated. At five-on-five, the Jets were among the worst teams from an advanced metrics perspective. They finished dead last in the league in expected goals for percentage -- thanks to giving up the most high-danger chances against, second-most shots against and third-most scoring chances against. With metrics like that, it's no surprise that Hellebuyck was last season's Vezina trophy winner. I suspect improving defensive structure was high on the Jets' offseason priority list, but if Hellebuyck needs to duplicate that level of success this season, he should be included in the Hart Trophy conversation.
Hellebuyck's metrics on home ice and against the Calgary Flames both suggest that he should give the Jets a puncher's chance tonight . Hellebuyck stopped 92.5% of shots at home last year while posting an 18-11-3 record. Historically, he's had the Flames number, going 5-2-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average and 93.2% save percentage. Winnipeg will need continued success from Hellebuyck to compensate for the their defensive inefficiencies.
Offensively, the Jets' top two lines are as good as anyone's. They are returning their top-five point-getters -- Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers -- all of whom managed at least 58 points. Winnipeg also brought Paul Stastny back into the mix. He's familiar with the Jets' system and helped them reach the 2018 Western Conference Finals. Surely, the Jets will be hoping that Stastny helps from an offensive perspective while bringing more defensive responsibility to the forward lines.
Calgary is hoping to recapture the success they achieved during the 2018-19 season, but they aren't without their own inefficiencies. They finished last campaign hovering around the 50.0% mark in most relative metrics, but they were defensively inept on the road. At five-on-five, Calgary allowed the second-most shots against on the road and third-most scoring chances against but finished with a 20-14-3 record thanks to their team 93.3% save percentage. Their PDO, which is a combination of shooting and save percentages, was slightly inflated at 1.007. These metrics imply that the Flames struggled to keep pace with their opponents when they didn't have the benefit of last change but were bailed out by their goaltending. This is not the strategy to employ if you want to beat the Jets.
You will recall that these teams faced each other in the Qualifying Round of the 2020 playoffs. The Flames dispatched the Jets in four games, but those results are tethered to some unsustainable metrics. Calgary managed a 12.4% shooting percentage to go along with a 94.5% save percentage for an inflated 1.066 PDO. Obviously, that came at the expense of the Jets, who finished the four-game series with a 0.933 PDO. It's unlikely that Calgary will be able to duplicate that unsustainable success against the Jets this year.
numberFire's algorithm projects the Jets as 58.8% favorites, which is significantly higher than the 48.8% implied probability of a +105 line. That makes the Jets moneyline a two-star play.