NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 1/5/23

With how often the Maple Leafs have disappointed this year as betting favorites, can we trust them on Thursday? Where else can we find value on the day?

Thursday's 10-game slate is bursting at the seams with value, so why wait? Let's dive right into the picks -- and into the green for 2023.

Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.

St. Louis Blues at New Jersey Devils

Blues ML (+168) - 3 Stars

As I've said before, the reason I target back-to-backs isn't rest. It's goaltending.

The Devils deserve a massive value adjustment when shifting from Vitek Vanecek (5.24 goals saved above expectation this season) to Mackenzie Blackwood (-0.24 GSAx).

The public doesn't always properly evaluate these shifts. They just see a New Jersey squad that's 3rd in expected-goals-for rate (56.2%) this season at home versus a St. Louis squad that's 26th in that same department (46.5%).

Even despite Jordan Binnington underperforming to this point (-2.61 GSAx), our model has the Devs on upset alert. Given the circumstances of this game, it believes the Blues win 50.7% of the time. Against these 37.3% implied odds, this is its strongest recommendation of the day.

This game has a classic "Pros vs. Joes" betting split, too. While New Jersey is getting 64% of bets, 73% of the money is on the Blues.

Nashville Predators at Carolina Hurricanes

Under 6.0 (-110) - 3 Stars

Two of the best goalies in the sport clash tonight in Carolina, yet this total isn't even that low.

Juuse Saros has been a regular on the Vezina Trophy watchlist for years, and it's no surprise to see him in contention again. He's fourth in the league in GSAx (17.62) and wholly responsible for the Predators' winning record thus far.

On the other side is a bit of a surprise. Frederik Andersen wouldn't be, but Freddy is still on the shelf with an injury. Instead, rookie Pyotr Kochetkov has shined with the ninth-highest GSAx in the league (10.19) in just 16 games. GSAx is cumulative like WAR in baseball, so that's absurd.

Even with shoddy goaltending, Nashville should also struggle to generate chances here. The Canes allow the fewest expected goals per 60 minutes (2.53 xGF) in the NHL.

Altogether, our model sees six or fewer tallies in this contest 67.9% of the time. While a potential push is still factored into expected value, that's still a three-star wager at these odds.

Seattle Kraken at Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs -1.5 (+114) - 2 Stars

This will be my first -1.5 puckline recommendation all season. I'm not just making a pun around the new year five days in.

When clicking on all cylinders, the Maple Leafs should smash the Kraken on most nights. These odds, implying it only happens 46.7% of the time, are worth a bite at the apple.

In terms of xGF per 60 minutes, Toronto sits 9th in the NHL (3.39) compared to 24th for Seattle (2.94). The underrated Maple Leafs' defense is also allowing fewer expected goals per 60 minutes (2.82 xGA) than Seattle's (2.89), who are usually the ones that get credit for that end of the ice.

In goal, Matt Murray is 13th in GSAx this season (6.92), and Seattle's Martin Jones (-3.44) is 13th from the bottom.

With a decided edge everywhere, our model expects Toronto to win by multiple scores 53.1% of the time. I know the Leafs have disappointed this year as favorites, which is why I'm avoiding a -225 moneyline in lieu of a sub-one-unit bet. Still, it's a no-brainer choice against these odds.