NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 3/18/21

Wednesday was a wacky night in the NHL. The New York Rangers pummelled the Philadelphia Flyers, the Edmonton Oilers scored four goals in under nine minutes to bury the Calgary Flames, and the Vegas Golden Knights mounted a third-period comeback to defeat the San Jose Sharks. Here's hoping there are more shenanigans on tonight's slate of games.

Here are a few wagers from our daily projections!

Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins

Sabres Moneyline (+235): 2-Star Rating out of 5
Sabres +1.5 (-126): 2-Star Rating out of 5

Well, the bright side is that things can't get much worse for the Buffalo Sabres. After losing 12 straight games, the Sabres decided that it was time to part ways with head coach Ralph Krueger. Buffalo's brass is hoping that a change in coach can help the Sabres play up to their potential.

From an advanced perspective, the Sabres haven't been as bad as their record implies. Buffalo ranks 25th in expected-goals for percentage, 19th in Corsi percentage, and 16th in high-danger percentage. All of which implies that they are due for positive regression from their actual goals-for percentage of 37.9%, which is easily the worst in the league.

Another sign that the Sabres are due for positive regression is their 30th-ranked .963 PDO. The Sabres have been snake-bitten offensively and have managed the worst-shooting percentage in the league. When we consider some of their above-noted production metrics, it's clear that the Sabres are underachieving offensively by a substantial margin. Buffalo has managed 11 or more high-danger chances in three of five, and output should start to follow.

To suggest that the Boston Bruins are underwhelming offensively would be understated by their recent performances. Boston has gone six games with nine or fewer chances from high-danger areas. Over that sample, they are averaging 5.8 high-danger chances per game and 23.0 scoring chances. As expected, this has resulted in decreased output, with the Bruins managing eight total goals over their six-game span.

Scheduling-wise, every team is playing through a condensed March. However, the recent seven games for the Bruins have been particularly compressed. Tonight will be the Bruins' seventh game in 11 nights. They started at home, traveled to New York to play the Islanders, returned home to play the other NYC-based team before packing up and heading to Pittsburgh for two games. Now, they are in Buffalo for two games in three nights.

All of this has been compounded by the fact that Tuukka Rask is dealing with an injury that has kept him out of action since March 8. When Rask is able to return to game action is not yet known.

Boston has a number of factors working against them. They appear to be in a correction phase, dealing with injuries, and will likely be tired from a challenging part of their schedule. On the other hand, the Sabres are due for postitive regression and should respond to their head coach's firing.

According to our projections, there's an edge in backing the Sabres to win and to cover the +1.5. Both wagers are rated as two-star plays.

Detroit Red Wings vs. Dallas Stars

Red Wings +1.5 (-164): 2-Star Rating out of 5

After starting off the season with five wins through their first seven games, the Dallas Stars have gone on to win only four of their next 18. What should raise more than a few red flags for Stars fans is that they are still overachieving relative to their advanced metrics.

Dallas has posted an expected goals-for percentage of 51.8%, which is below their actual goals-for percentage of 52.6%. In that Stars case, this means that their output exceeds their production metrics. This is validated by their 1.006 PDO, which remains above the hypothetical average of 1.000.

It's also worth noting the Stars have some poor road metrics. The Stars rank 22nd in Corsi percentage and 27th in shots-for percentage, which contributes to their 18th-ranked expected goals-for percentage as the visitors.

The Detroit Red Wings have used home ice to their advantage in going 3-1-1 over their last five home games. What's most impressive is that four of those games came against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes. The Wings did well to limit those offenses to 26.0 scoring chances and 11.0 high-danger opportunities.

For as bad as Detroit has been this season, they have been competitive on home ice. Their expected goals-for percentage remains above their actual percentage, which implies that the Wings could see a few more victories start to pile up at home.

Dallas is struggling. A long post-season run followed by a short off-season and condensed schedule is negatively impacting the Stars' ability to compete. The Wings have been more impressive recently and are starting to put together more cohesive efforts.

The Stars are favored and therefore carry the -1.5 on the puckline. But they have won by more than one goal just three times over their last 18 games, which is far less frequent than the implied probability of +136, which is 42.4%. That means that backing the Wings at +1.5 is positive expected value. We rate it as a two-star play.