NHL Betting Guide: Tuesday 1/19/21

Tristan Jarry has gotten off to an uninspired start for the Penguins. Can he right the ship against the Capitals?

After a busy first week in the NHL, we're starting to get an idea of what teams are bringing to the table this season. Metrics are inflated, as teams race to complete their 56 game schedule. It will be worth monitoring to see if more teams find themselves as outliers, or if the metrics balance out before the end of the season.

These are plays we're looking at tonight!

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Under 6.5 (-110): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

Even after all these years, Sidney Crosby versus Alex Ovechkin hasn’t lost any of its luster. The Pittsburgh Penguins came back on two occasions to beat the Washington Capitals in a shootout Sunday afternoon, and the rematch is scheduled for tonight.

The Capitals have points in all three games this season, going 2-0-1, but have been propped up by some concerning metrics. Washington has the fourth-most goals at five-on-five on a per-game basis thanks to a 13.3% shooting percentage. But they are substantially outpacing their production metrics. At five-on-five, the Caps rank fourth-last in scoring chances per game and third-last in high-danger chances per game. Their shooting percentage across all strengths is even more bloated at 15.3%. This unsustainable output will come to a screeching halt sooner rather than later.

Pittsburgh’s offense has been stymied early this season. Across all strengths, they rank in the bottom half of the league in goals scored, and they’ve been outscored at five-on-five despite out-chancing their opponents in scoring chances in all three games. That suggests their offensive output should increase.

The Pens have also given up the fourth-fewest scoring chances per game against and second-fewest shots per game at five-on-five, but they’ve surrendered the fourth-most goals. Tristan Jarry is well off his career and expected save percentages and should bounce back. As expected, these imbalanced metrics are reflected in the Penguins' .903 PDO, which ranks 29th in the league. Expect correction in terms of save percentage as Pittsburgh continues with their defensive structure.

The Penguins are due for major defensive correction while the Caps will be hit with offensive regression, as both teams are outside their expected ranges -- all of which lends itself to a low-scoring game. The under (6.5) is a two-star play, per our projections.

Nashville Predators vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes moneyline (-118): 1-Star Rating Out of 5

Over 5.5 (-120): 1-Star Rating Out of 5

If the Nashville Predators were a racehorse, they broke early this season -- with impressive metrics in their opening win against the Columbus Blue Jackets -- but things have dropped significantly since, and if they get any worse, they may have to be put down on the track.

In their first game of the year, the Preds posted a 66.1% expected goals-for percentage thanks to outpacing the Blue Jackets in every metric. Since then, they have been out-chanced in scoring chances by a 54 to 48 margin and in high-danger chances by a 23-13 margin. Their five-on-five metrics have been particularly worrisome, as they have posted negative relative metrics in scoring chances, while out-pacing their opponents in output. It’s possible that the Preds' scoring production soars, bringing their metrics back where you would expect them to be, but it’s more likely that Nashville's output declines while the metrics balance out.

While it feels like goaltending will probably always be a concern for the Carolina Hurricanes, we can at least take solace in their five-on-five metrics. Carolina leads the league in shots-for percentage while ranking fifth in relative scoring chances and seventh in relative high-danger chances. Granted, two of their games this season came against Detroit Red Wings, but this dominance in relative metrics dates back to last season. Carolina is skating around with the 24th-ranked PDO, which implies that they are due for positive regression (likely in the form of more goals).

numberFire's projections favor the Canes, giving them a 56.0% chance of winning. Comparing our projections with the -118 moneyline price tag available at FanDuel Sportsbook, that leaves an edge in backing the Canes tonight. We rate Carolina on the moneyline as a one-star play and also have over 5.5 as a one-star wager.