Betting Guide for the 2023 NHL All-Star Game
The NHL All-Star Game is this weekend, and we have some betting options to consider. The format is simple, the two divisions from each conference play each other with the 3-on-3 overtime rules, and the winners move on to the finals.
Two wins will claim the title -- along with a $1 million dollar prize for the winning division. Let's look at a few bets for Saturday.
Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Central Division to Win (+250)
The first matchup will be from the Western Conference. The Central Divison (-128) are slight favorites over the Pacific Division (+106).
The head-to-head matchup and the moneyline should point us in the direction of the Central moving on, but let's take a look as to why that could be the case. While we don't know the motivation level of players, they are still competing for a $1 million dollar prize, and hopefully, their skill will shine through when it's all said and done.
Each division is required to have two goalies on their roster. For the Central, that would be Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators and Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. When it comes to goalies' stats, I like to start with Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx). Saros (23.0) and Hellebuyck (21.8) are third and fourth, respectively, in the league for the highest GSAx. They are legitimately elite goalies this season, which hopefully gives the Central the edge.
The same cannot be said for the two goalies from the Pacific Division. Stuart Skinner of the Edmonton Oilers and Logan Thompson of the Vegas Golden Knights will represent them. Skinner ranks 33rd in the league with 2.7 GSAx and Thompson ranks 69th with -2.6 GSAx. The Central has the better goalies -- full stop.
When it comes to the skaters, this is where things can get tough. The Pacific has Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Erik Karlsson, but the Central has Jason Robertson, Mikko Rantanen, and Josh Morrissey. While McDavid and Draisaitl are two of the best skaters in the world, Roberston, Rantanen, and Nathan MacKinnon aren't that far behind.
The differential between the skaters is minor when push comes to shove. The difference between the goalies is massive, and that should give the Central Division the advantage.
This should ultimately put the Central in a spot to win their first-round matchup and have a shot to win it all.
Metropolitan Division to Win (+330)
The next matchup is the Atlantic Division (-134) taking on the Metropolitan Division (+110).
Considering the header of this section is about the Metro Division winning it all, it's clear I like them to upset the Atlantic in the first round. As noted above, the motivation level of the players is a bit of a wild card in an All-Star Game, but looking at the Metro Division, five of their nine skaters are appearing in their first All-Star Game. Both of their goalies are making their first appearances, too.
Are the younger players going to give it their all and put on a show? Are the veteran players simply going through the motions of an All-Star Game since they've been there before? Motivation, or lack thereof, is tough to quantify, but I lean toward the first-time players trying to put on a big performance.
Compare this to the Atlantic Division, they have only a single player making his first appearance at an All-Star Game. That's goalie Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins.
Speaking of Ullmark, he leads the league with 29.9 GSAx, and his fellow Atlantic Division goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, ranks fifth in the league with 17.6 GSAx.
For the Metro Division goalies, Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders is ranked second in the league with 25.5 GSAx, and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers ranks sixth with 17.3 GSAx. These are four of the six best goalies in the league, so I'm seeing it as a toss-up.
When it comes to the skaters, I mentioned that the Metro has far more first-time All-Stars compared to the Atlantic. However, the Metro also features Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, two veterans who are having their last go at winning another Stanley Cup. They are two of the most accomplished and successful players over the last 20 years, giving us a bit of a fun narrative.
Is this where we see a storyline of them picking up a win in what could be their final All-Star Game together? We've seen All-Star game storylines play out before with John Scott from a few years ago. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the opposing players show their respect for two legends en route to them winning the All-Star Game for the Metro Division.
After all, it's the All-Star Game. It's meant to be fun for the fans and the players. I'm taking a shot on a great narrative with the Metro Division.