NHL Betting Guide: Friday 2/10/23

It's officially troll season.

We've seen the past week some shocking upsets as we hit the second half of the season, including the Red Wings winning outright over Calgary last night. The dregs of the league improve, and the favorites of the league start to take them less seriously looking for points of mental rest.

That's the handicap on both of the model's recommendations today. Let's dive in.

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.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets +1.5 (-112) - 3 Stars

Expect to be backing the Columbus Blue Jackets quite a bit with me in the not-too-distant future.

There are two reasons they're going to be a bit undervalued. First, they might be the most unlucky team in hockey since the calendar turned. Since January 1st, Columbus is last in the NHL in goals-for rate (37.5%), but they're just a normal level of poor when looking at expected metrics. They've got the 26th-ranked expected-goals-for (xGF) rate at 45.0%.

Secondarily, their primary netminder is back making regular starts. The gap between Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins is arguably the largest chasm between netminders in the NHL. At 2.82 goals saved above expectation (GSAx), Korpisalo is a slightly above-average netminder. Merzlikins (-24.24 GSAx) has the worst GSAx mark among any 'tender that's made a start this year. Yikes.

The Maple Leafs are always good for a letdown game. They're 21-28 against the spread (ATS) this year despite their 31-13-8 record. That's the fifth-worst ATS record in the league.

At home and rested, our model expects the Jackets to cover a one-goal spread 61.7% of the time versus these 52.7% implied odds.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

Ducks +1.5 (-118) - 2 Stars

Just like the model, I feel better about Columbus, but there's a strong case for this puckline, too.

The Penguins have plenty of stars and a history of success, but they haven't earned a one-goal spread at this small price currently. Since January 1st, the Penguins have amassed the 10th-lowest xGF% (49.0%) in the NHL.

In that recent sample, even the lowly Anaheim Ducks aren't that far behind. They've got the fourth-lowest mark (43.4%), but they're punching at their weight class with how the Pens are currently playing.

Now, I don't want to leap to the outright here. Either Tristan Jarry (9.21 GSAx) or Casey DeSmith (5.56) will be a significant advantage in net over John Gibson (1.84 GSAx), and Pittsburgh should win a majority of the time -- as the model forecasts (63.7% win rate). What a world this is where Pittsburgh is now winning with goaltending instead of despite it.

However, these have been two similar teams recently. They're bottom-10 skating clubs with fine-to-solid goaltending play. As a result, our model expects Anaheim to cover 60.9% of the time against these 54.1% implied odds.

This is a number you can likely wait on to get a better one -- or the same -- as tickets and money pour in on the Penguins.