NHL Betting Guide: Wednesday 3/24/21

Anze Kopitar has 16 points over his last 12 games. Will he power the Kings offense against the Sharks after being held off the scoresheet last time out?

Bettors beware! The NHL threw a curveball with their scheduling today with two early evening games on the docket. The Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames are scheduled to face-off at 5 pm ET and the Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks will start half an hour later at 5:30 ET. That leaves three evening games to keep us entertained on a Wednesday night.

Here are a few plays from our daily projections!

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings

Kings +1.5 (-265): 1-Star Rating Out of 5
Over 5.5 (-118): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

The Los Angeles Kings were tough luck losers last time out to the San Jose Sharks. The Kings dominated possession, shots, and scoring chances, but weren't able to translate that to more goals and dropped a 2-1 decision.

The Kings set a 10-game high by recording 42 shots in the loss, the 36 scoring chances they created was also the high-mark over their last six. For the first time in four games, LA managed fewer than 12 high-danger opportunities. The Kings have struggled to score recently though, putting up below-average shooting percentages in five of their last six games. Increased production should lead to increased output, suggesting that LA is primed for more goals.

The Sharks have also had increased production recently. They have managed 11 or more high-danger chances in nine of their last 10 and are averaging 12.6 such opportunities during that span. Scoring chances have also been hosted recently, up to 28.7 over their last 10 compared to their season average of 27.2. Output has fallen over their last five games with the Sharks scoring on only 7.0% of shots. Expect those trends to reverse as the Sharks work their way back up to average.

Five of the last six times these teams have met the Kings have either won or lost by exactly one goal. That aligns with our modeling which projects the Kings +1.5 as a one-star play. These teams' metrics also suggest that tonight's contest should be a high-scoring affair, which makes the over 5.5 a two-star play.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres

Penguins moneyline (-270): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

It's fascinating how bad the Buffalo Sabres have been this season. Six wins, -42 goal differential and they've had negative expected goals-for ratios in 13 of their last 14 games.

Those struggles have been compounded by injuries recently. Jack Eichel is on injured reserve with a neck injury, Jake McCabe, Linus Ullmark, Dylan Cozens, and Carter Hutton are all regulars who were expected to contribute, but ailments are keeping them out of the lineup. That leaves Dustin Tokarski and his career 90.4% save percentage to patrol the blue paint with Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson to shoulder the offensive burden.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have relied more heavily on defensive structure this season. They've been effective at limiting scoring chances, ranking in the top 10 of the league on a per-game basis, and have strengthened protection in their own end to limit high-danger chances. Opponents have managed nine or fewer high-danger opportunities in six of the Pens' last seven games, and have averaged 8.0 quality chances in that span.

Not only with the Sabres have to improve their offensive output, but they'll also have to do it against a team that is playing structured defensive hockey. Getting past the Penguins is a big ask, which is contraindicated in our projections. The Pens market price is less than our algorithm, which gives them a 76.1% chance of winning. That makes the Penguins' moneyline a two-star play.