NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 3/2/23

The theme of Thursday's 10-game slate is variance. The NHL can be unpredictable, and some of our model's best bets today sound like really poor ideas at the start. Hopefully, with a dive into the metrics, you'll agree with both of us.

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.

Nashville Predators at Florida Panthers

Predators +1.5 (-168) - 3 Stars
Under 6.5 (+104) - 2 Stars

The Florida Panthers have hit an under in consecutive games. Miami might freeze over if a third happens today, but I like the chances.

This one is all about the goaltending involved and the number. Since January 1st, Florida and Nashville have posted the most and 12th-most expected goals scored (xGF) per 60 minutes. They're also both top-six squads in terms of expected goals allowed (xGA).

Yet, these two clubs have combined to score just 6.39 goals per 60 minutes in that period. How? Well, the Preds trot out Vezina Trophy contender Juuse Saros. He's third in the NHL in goals saved above expectation (29.09 GSAx), but I also want to give a shout to Sergei Bobrovsky (6.76 GSAx), who owns a top-25 mark himself.

Our model expects the under to win out 56.5% of the time versus these 49.0% implied odds. In that lower-scoring environment, it also expects the Predators to cover 71.3% of the time. Against the 62.7% implied odds on the puckline, we can fire at that wager, too.

Seattle Kraken at Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings ML (+102) - 3 Stars

On paper, these two teams don't look close. After all, 65% of bets and 63% of the handle is on the Seattle Kraken in this spot for a reason.

However, it's easy to see value with the Red Wings -- at home and rested -- when they're just a slightly worse version of the Kraken. Built on defense, Detroit and Seattle are 9th and 10th, respectively, in xGA per 60 minutes since January 1st.

Now, on offense, the Kraken have been a step ahead. They've posted significantly more xGF per 60 minutes (3.01) than the Wings (2.62) in that same period. Unfortunately, those are both poor marks.

In goal, Seattle's Philipp Grubauer (4.99 GSAx) and Detroit's Ville Husso (0.79 GSAx) have both been slight positives. If you look at just goals saved above average (GSAA) instead of the additional danger adjustment, Husso (-3.04) actually beats out Grubauer (-7.52) handily. To say the least, it's been an odd season for Gru.

Our model is bullish on Detroit, pegging the Red Wings with a 59.2% chance to win at these 49.5% implied odds. I still believe Detroit gets it done with those other key advantages, too.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Calgary Flames

Maple Leafs ML (-110) - 2 Stars

This is a classic example of looking at a goaltender's performance over his name.

These two teams are very close in the skating department. Since January 1st, they're both top-eight clubs in xGF per 60 minutes, and they're bottom-seven clubs in xGA per 60 minutes. They've been excellent at both ends of the ice, yet there's a massive record difference for a reason.

If Ilya Samsonov (12.96 GSAx) was starting, this line wouldn't be nearly as close. This game is a pick'em because AHL call-up Joseph Woll will man the crease for Toronto on Thursday, so a surge of bettors drove the ticket count toward Calgary, who will start veteran and 2022 Vezina finalist Jacob Markstrom.

Here's the problem -- this season, Woll has been better than Markstrom. We haven't seen the rookie much (just two appearances), but even in that limited time, he's been a net positive at 1.14 GSAx. As many who've backed the Flames can attest, Markstrom (-3.61 GSAx) has been the difference in Calgary's season. We'll roll with Woll as a result.

Our model thinks Toronto wins this 57.9% of the time against these 52.5% implied odds. With only Woll officially confirmed to start, it's worth noting that the Leafs' win odds would balloon if Dan Vladar (-4.68 GSAx) gets the nod instead.