NHL Betting Guide: Tuesday 3/14/23

Today is Pi Day, and despite what you might think, there's actually quite a bit of similarity between the concept of pi and betting hockey.

Pi is an irrational number that's believed to be infinite. Irrational and infinite? That sounds like the overall strategy of the head coach of the team I backed, letting in empty-net goals at will to bust the spread or total.

Here are today's top wagers.

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.

Winnipeg Jets at Carolina Hurricanes

Under 5.5 (+106) - 2 Stars

Scoring is up across the board in the NHL, and it feels like, at times, these first periods become track meets where squads can combine for five goals right away to burst a total this small.

At the very least, Winnipeg and Carolina are two of the most likely teams to feel out the game a bit. They're two of the top-10 most profitable teams betting first-period unders this year.

That's no surprise with the Canes, a defensive hockey club that's posted the fewest expected goals allowed (xGA) per 60 minutes since January 1st (2.61). While Winnipeg lags behind in that category (3.15), they've got a man in the blue paint to correct the mistakes.

Connor Hellebuyck of the Jets is fourth in the league in goals saved above expectation (25.17 GSAx). He's actually the more consistent goaltender in this game, with Frederik Andersen (1.21 GSAx) still not close to his form from a year ago. Freddy was second in GSAx during the 2021-22 campaign, but he's been Carolina's biggest question mark this season.

One club has an excellent goalie, and the other has an excellent defense. Our model sees fewer than six goals in this game 55.7% of the time versus these 48.5% implied odds.

Ottawa Senators at Edmonton Oilers

Senators +1.5 (-130) - 2 Stars

The Oilers' style isn't always perfectly encapsulated in advanced metrics, but this is a bet on a signature pond-hockey display from Edmonton tonight.

The 6.5-goal total has -168 juice to the over, so oddsmakers are expecting a high-scoring tilt. Edmonton has scored the most goals per 60 minutes since January 1st (3.82) and allowed the 11th-most to opponents (3.30).

Ottawa has the requisite firepower to compete in this shootout. They're seventh in expected goals scored (xGF) per 60 minutes in that same period (3.43). Edmonton's defensive metrics are outstanding on paper, but they've allowed 23 goals in their past five games.

Our model expects Ottawa to cover a one-goal margin 65.0% of the time, but these odds imply just a 56.5% chance of covering. Ottawa is the contrarian side, getting just 33% of spread bets and 17% of spread money -- without any line movement -- but this my favorite wager of the day.

Calgary Flames at Arizona Coyotes

Coyotes +1.5 (-126) - 3 Stars

Can the Coyotes exact revenge tonight?

One of the most lopsided games of the NHL season this year was Arizona's 6-3 loss to Calgary back on February 22nd. Shots were 51-14 in favor of the Flames. Yikes.

However, Calgary is no world-beater, and all the beloved 'Yotes have done in and around that contest is put together strong efforts and cover. Remarkably, Arizona has covered 16 of its last 21 games.

I think that split comes from their goaltending.

If you look at just expected-goals-for rates (xGF%) since the calendar turned to 2023, Calgary (54.6%) -- and most others -- should squash Arizona (41.0%) based on the performance of the skaters. But, as is the case most nights, Karel Vejmelka (9.02 GSAx) is a significant advantage for the Coyotes. In this case, he's the better netminder over Jacob Markstrom (3.57 GSAx).

This is numberFire's best bet of the day. It expects Arizona to cover a one-goal margin 65.9% of the time against these 55.8% implied odds.