NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 3/25/21

After a slow start to the week, we're back in the fast lane with 11 games scheduled for Thursday night. It's an East Coast-friendly schedule with nine of the 11 games starting at 8:00 pm ET or earlier and only one scheduled puck drop for after 8:30.

Here are a few plays from our daily projections!

Ottawa Senators vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Senators moneyline (+250): 3-Star Rating out of 5
Senators +1.5 (-104): 4-Star Rating out of 5
Under 6.5 (-106): 4-Star Rating out of 5

There are three substantive positions to take in the Ottawa Senators' game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Sens have been playing some tidy defensive hockey recently. Over their last four games, the Sens have limited opponents to 7.5 high-danger chances per outing and out-chanced them in three of four. Scoring chances are also down to 23.5 per game over that span, with Ottawa out-chancing opponents by a cumulative 115-94 margin.

This has resulted in some impressive game scores for the Sens. They have posted an expected goals-for percentage above 56.5% in three of four, with all four games staying under the total.

On the other side of the ice, the Leafs have been struggling. They have two wins over their last eight games, thanks to some questionable goaltending metrics. Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell have combined to stop just 87.8% of shots during that span and have given up at least three in seven of eight. The Leafs' goalies have fallen on hard times but should start to work their way back up to average.

Toronto is having a hard time collecting wins when the Sens have points in five straight, including three wins. According to our projections, the Leafs' chance of winning isn't as pronounced as the betting market implies. The Maple Leafs have a steep -310 moneyline that carries a 75.6% implied probability. That is substantially more than the 56.4% probability that is calculated by our algorithm.

As such, there is a big advantage in taking a stake in the Sens. We rate backing them on the moneyline as a three-star play and backing them to cover +1.5 as a four-star play. Expect this game to stay under 6.5, too, which is rated as a four-star play.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes moneyline (-168): 2-Star Rating out of 5
Over 5.5 (-110): 1-Star Rating out of 5

The Columbus Blue Jackets are trending in the wrong direction. Their highest expected goals-for percentage over their last nine games was 50.2%, and the rest have been 47.3% or lower.

Offensive metrics are down, and defensive metrics are trending up, which is a bad combination that will be hard to reverse against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Blue Jackets are averaging a paltry 7.1 high-danger chances and 22.1 scoring chances over the last nine, which is low even by Blue Jackets standards. During the same span, opponents are averaging 10.6 high-danger and 27.4 scoring chances.

With all those metrics working against the Blue Jackets, you may be surprised to know that they are 4-3-2 over their last nine games. Columbus may be entering a correction phase as their metrics start to balance with outcomes.

From an advanced perspective, the Canes are operating efficiently. Carolina has out-possessed opponents in five straight and out-shot opponents in four of five, which results in a cumulative expected goals-for percentage of 52.5% during that span. Opponents have attempted nine or fewer high-danger opportunities in four of five and 20 or fewer scoring chances in three of four. Carolina has an expected goals-for percentage above 50.0% in four of their last five but only has two wins to show for their efforts. More victories should follow.

The Hurricanes are the superior team and dominated this matchup last time out. Don't expect anything to change tonight. The Hurricanes moneyline is a two-star play, and over 5.5 is a one-star play, as per our projections.