Each week, we’ll take a look at some of the hottest and coldest bets around the NHL, identify the team with the softest schedule, and shed some light on some interesting betting trends.
Hot team: Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are atop the Western Conference standings after reeling off five straight wins and claiming victories in 12 of their last 14 games. Strong goaltending from Juuse Saros, who boasts a 2.27 goals-against average (9th in the league) and .928 save percentage (5th in the league), has led Nashville to a 24-11-2 record through 37 games despite only posting a +18 goal differential this season.
This team can be even better in the second half if it can stay out of the penalty box. Nashville leads the league with a whopping 461 penalty minutes, but its seventh-ranked penalty kill (82.5%) has bailed it out to this point. The Preds played over the total in six of their last seven games and will get to pounce next on the lowly Buffalo Sabres, who have dropped six straight contests.
Next three games: vs. Buffalo (Jan. 13), @ Boston (Jan. 15), @ St. Louis (Jan. 17)
Cold team: Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton has lost 11 of its last 13 games, including five straight. To make matters worse, the team is absolutely decimated due to COVID-19 protocols, leading to multiple postponements. The Oilers’ next game is slated for Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, but that game could be in jeopardy, too. Simply having enough bodies on the ice for practice is an issue lately, as pictured below.
Optional practice for the Oilers. Niemelainen is on the ice as he recovers from injury. pic.twitter.com/dTWhfbRrrs
— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) January 8, 2022
The team may be stagnant on the ice, but its front office is busy exploring ways to break the Oilers out of their current funk. Edmonton is reportedly interested in signing displaced forward Evander Kane after his nasty breakup with the San Jose Sharks and potentially upgrading in goal by expressing trade interest in New York Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev. Edmonton goalies are allowing 3.3 goals per game (22nd in the league) and have combined for a mediocre .904 save percentage (also 22nd in league) to this point. The Oilers are 14-20 on the puckline and 17-15-2 against the over/under on the season.
Next three games: vs. Senators (Jan. 15), vs. Panthers (Jan. 20), vs. Flames (Jan. 22)
Over team: Colorado Avalanche
Wow, this team can score. The Avalanche are averaging 4.3 goals per game, by far the best mark in the league. (Florida is second with 3.92 goals per game.) Despite not seeing a total under six goals in any of their games since November, the Avalanche have still exceeded the over in five straight and six of their last seven contests to improve to 23-7-2 o/u this season.
Nobody expected Nazem Kadri to be leading this team with 48 points, especially with offensive weapons like Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanon, Cale Makar, and Gabriel Landeskog on the roster. Landeskog, the team’s captain, entered COVID-19 protocols Monday and will likely miss a handful of games. Even without Landeskog, the team should continue lighting the lamp during a back-to-back set with the last-place Arizona Coyotes coming up.
Next three games: vs. Arizona (Jan. 14), @ Arizona (Jan. 15), vs. Minnesota (Jan. 17)
Under team: New York Rangers
Under bettors continue to cash on the Rangers, who have played under the total in four of their last five games to improve to 12-23-2 o/u this season. New York has lost nine players to COVID protocols since the holiday break, but starting goaltender Igor Shesterkin could be available as soon as Thursday’s game with the San Jose Sharks.
Georgiev, who is a restricted free agent next year and serving as backup to Shesterkin, has been the subject of many recent trade rumors. Bettors will want to monitor any developments, as the Rangers’ goaltending tandem, which boasts a combined 2.51 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, is a major reason why the team’s been such a great under play to this point.
Next three games: @ San Jose (Jan. 13), @ Philadelphia (Jan. 15), vs. Toronto (Jan. 19)
Best schedule spot: Boston Bruins
Boston is playing much better hockey lately, posting wins in seven of its last 10 games and two straight. The Bruins begin a seven-game homestand Wednesday against the Montreal Canadiens, a team they bested 5-2 in their last meeting.
The Bruins have a quick turnaround before hosting the Philadelphia Flyers, who have lost five straight games, on Thursday, but had success last time out against Philly, downing them 5-2. Boston will then host the streaking Predators on Saturday, having shut them out 2-0 in Nashville last time around. The Bruins have been one of the toughest teams for bettors to gauge this season, posting a 14-18 mark on the puckline and a 16-16 o/u record to date.
Boston should also be bolstered by the signing of veteran goalie Tuukka Rask on Tuesday. He’ll immediately slot in as the backup goaltender behind Linus Ullmark and provide the Bruins with more depth in goal. The 34-year-old claimed the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender with Boston in 2014 and is returning from offseason hip surgery. It appears Rask, who said during a radio appearance this past summer he wanted to play for the Bruins again so badly he’d play for only Bud Light, will be getting some extra incentives added to his new one-year contract.
— Bud Light (@budlight) January 11, 2022
Next three games: vs. Montreal (Jan. 12), vs. Philadelphia (Jan. 13), vs. Nashville (Jan. 15)
Photo by: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports