NHL Betting Guide: Monday 3/1/21

The Panthers can re-assert themselves atop the NHL Central Division with a win against the Hurricanes tonight. Is it a good spot to back the Panthers?

It was a chalky kind of day in the NHL yesterday with all five favorites winning (New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins closed at a pick 'em) and four of the five also covering the -1.5 puckline. Barring any postponements, there are at least six games each night this week as the NHL looks to make up for lost time, including seven games on the slate tonight.

Here are a few plays from our daily projections!

Florida Panthers vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Panthers moneyline (+108): 4-Star Rating Out of 5
Panthers +1.5 (-265): 5-Star Rating Out of 5

The top four teams in the NHL Central Division are all separated by just two points. That makes tonight's contest between the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes even more important as teams jostle for playoff positioning.

The Panthers are one of the best teams in the league, particularly at five-on-five. They've posted six straight game scores with an expected goals-for above 50.0% by out-shooting and out-possessing their opponents in each game. At five-on-five, Florida ranks sixth in possession metrics, fourth in relative shooting metrics, and fifth in expected goals-for percentage.

Power play goals were the difference when these teams met on Saturday. The Hurricanes sniped two with the man-advantage, compared to Florida's one power play marker, before the Canes eventually stole the game in a shootout.

James Reimer has stepped into the starter's role, and the Canes have rallied around him. Reimer has a 2.97 goals-against average and 89.7% save percentage on the season but has a 9-3-0 record. Carolina has either limited their opponents' chances against or exploded offensively to win. It's been mostly the latter, as 10 of Reimer's 12 starts have had six or more goals, with an average total of 7.4 goals a game when he starts.

Consequently, this resulted in an unsustainable PDO, which the Canes are currently correcting from. They've posted a PDO of .994 or worse in four straight, losing three of those four games, and they remain marginally ahead of the hypothetical average of 1.000 on the season.

This is a hellish week for the Canes. Tonight is the first night of a back-to-back, and tomorrow will the team's fifth game in seven days, all of them coming on the road. That means that we will likely see Alex Nedeljkovic start tonight, saving Reimer for the second night of the back-to-back. That's a lot of hockey, compounded by travel, for a team that is trending in the wrong direction.

The Panthers' chances of winning are 64.1%, as per our projections. That is a substantial deviation from the +108 price on the moneyline. As a result, there is a significant advantage in taking Florida on the moneyline and puckline. We rate those plays as four- and five-star plays, respectively.

Winnipeg Jets vs. Vancouver Canucks

Jets moneyline (-142) 2-Star Rating Out of 5

There aren't too many teams that give up more scoring chances than the Winnipeg Jets, but the Vancouver Canucks are one of them. From a defensive perspective, both teams are among the worst in the league, but the Jets hold a clear advantage in one regard.

Winnipeg gives up an average of 30.0 scoring chances a game, compared to Vancouver's 30.3. The Canucks also give up more shots per game at 32.8, compared to the Jets 32.1. But it's Vancouver that has been better at limiting high-danger chances, giving up an average of 12.7, which is 0.4 lower than the Jets' 13.1.

Where these teams differ is in net. Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit have combined for a 91.9% shooting percentage, ranking third in the league. Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko are on the opposite end of the spectrum with an 89.2% save percentage, ranking the Canucks 28th. The Canucks' goaltenders are trending in the right direction, stopping 90.8% of shots faced over their last seven games, but they've also given up at least three goals in four of those games. Goaltending remains a pretty troubling metric for the Nucks, with the Jets in a much better position.

If that wasn't enough to convince you that the Jets are the right side, then consider this; the Canucks have just three road wins in 11 games. However, in those 11 games, they've posted an expected goals-for percentage above 50.0% in just one of them, which suggests that the Canucks have more road wins than they should on the season.

We know what to expect from these teams. Defense is not a priority, and the Jets' goaltenders bail out their team, whereas the Canucks' goaltenders do not. The biggest advantage is that the Jets are playing on home ice, where they are substantially better than on the road. And road games are exactly where the Canucks' struggles are compounded. The Jets' expected goals-for percentage on home ice is 51.3%, which implies that they are outplaying their opponents at home.

Our algorithm favors the Jets tonight, projecting them as 65.6% favorites. Compared to the betting market at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Jets are priced as -142 favorites, which carries an implied probability of 58.7%. That leaves an advantage in backing the Jets on the moneyline, which we rate as a two-star play.