NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 1/12/23

Yesterday's 1-2 outcome put us close to even on the week, but we don't want even. We want exceptional.

Our model is really into a pair of lines today, and I've added a third. Let's chase exceptional.

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.

Carolina Hurricanes at Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets +1.5 (-106) - 3 Stars

I'm more than willing to bet on truly awful teams, but Columbus is the type of squad that I bet we'll be backing more and more often this season.

They were expected to be much better than 12-26-2 adding Johnny Gaudreau, but injuries have played a part. I think they're due for significant defensive regression, though.

The Jackets are currently allowing 3.90 goals per 60 minutes, which is second-worst in the league. However, their expected goals allowed (xGA) per 60 rate is just 3.35. Plus, Elvis Merzlikins has carried the goaltending duties in place of Joonas Korpisalo, and his league-worst -21.91 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) would be historically awful. I'd expect it ends closer to last year (-6.54).

I've got a Stanley Cup futures ticket on Carolina, so this is less about them than the spot. This is an odd, one-game road trip at the same spot as their last; it was on Saturday. They lost 4-3 outright to the Blue Jackets in a shootout.

You could argue the Canes would seek revenge, but even factoring in Merzlikins, their poor defense, and an inconsistent offense, our model still believes Columbus covers a one-goal spread here 61.8% of the time. This is its strongest recommendation of the day versus the 51.5% implied odds.

Minnesota Wild at New York Islanders

Islanders ML (-102) - 2 Stars

Backing the best while he's rested and at home? This is my strongest recommendation of the day.

If you don't look at goaltending metrics, you'll be on Minnesota here. The Wild's expected-goals-for rate (52.2% xGF) dwarfs the Islanders' (48.0%) between the creases. However, there's a reason that, despite getting just 41% of the bets, 80% of the handle is backing New York.

Sharp bettors and I love Ilya Sorokin. The guy printed unders at the beginning of the year, and though with the market largely adjusted to that and the Isles' poor pace (57.6 Corsi For), his squad is undervalued.

Sorokin's 27.90 GSAx leads the NHL. For my money, he's your Vezina Trophy favorite. That story couldn't be further from the case with Marc-Andre Fleury (-3.61 GSAx) in Minnesota's net. When you factor in these two, you get an Islanders squad with a higher actual GF% (53.5%) than the Wild (52.5%).

Our model likes the Islanders to win 59.0% of the time against these underdog 50.5% implied odds.

Florida Panthers at Vegas Golden Knights

Golden Knights ML (-125) - 3 Stars

There's a bit of juice here, but I still love this spot for the Golden Knights.

The Panthers just played a 5-4 trackmeet in Colorado, and on two days' rest, they'll head to Las Vegas for a date with what could be the best team out west.

Vegas checks in fifth in xGF% (53.7%), and Florida is sixth (53.3%). These are two elite squads, but give home ice -- and not being on the fourth leg of a four-game trip -- as a massive edge to the Knights.

Plus, we're just looking at skaters there. In goal, Vegas' Logan Thompson (-0.45 GSAx) is still a relative advantage over Sergei Bobrovsky (-4.75 GSAx), too.

Our model is grading this one out incredibly well. It expects the Golden Knights to win 63.1% of the time against these 55.1% implied odds.

This number dropped from -138 to -125 this morning, but regardless of the sharp activity that moved it, I couldn't -- and wouldn't -- back Florida's drained gas tank in this position.