NHL Betting Guide: Wednesday 4/7/21

It's not ideal, but there are only five NHL games scheduled for Wednesday night, although we can't really complain when there are at least seven games every day until the end of the week. Even with a limited schedule, there are still some favorable spots for bettors on the docket.

Here are the plays from our daily projections!

Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche

Wild Moneyline (+160): 1-Star Rating out of 5
Under 5.5 (+102): 1-Star Rating out of 5

There is a clear divide in the NHL West Division separating the great teams from the questionable. Somewhat surprisingly, the Minnesota Wild find themselves among the division's elite.

At five-on-five, the Wild have the 11th-best expected goals-for percentage. Minnesota is not a possession-driven team, and their success relates primarily to defensive zone coverage. The Wild have allowed the third-fewest high-danger chances on a per-game basis. They've been efficiently operating in the offensive zone, averaging 8.3 high-danger chances per game. Consequently, they have the fourth-best ratio of high-danger chances created versus allowed.

Almost equally as surprising, the Colorado Avalanche have been one of the best defensive teams in the league this season. Colorado allows the fewest scoring chances and high-danger chances at five-on-five on a per-game basis. We know what to expect from the Avs from a production standpoint; they are one of the best offensive teams in the league, thanks to guys like Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen, and many others. What makes defeating Colorado so hard is that they straddle elite metrics in both the offensive and defensive zones.

The key to defeating the Avs is limiting their chances, and so far this season, that has been the Wild's bread and butter. Minnesota has limited Colorado to nine or fewer high-danger chances in five of their seven meetings. As a result, expected goals-for percentages have favored the Wild in five of those seven games. It's also worth noting that only three of the seven games have occurred in Minnesota, which indicates that the Wild have been the dominant team without the advantage of the last change.

Based on our projections, the Wild's moneyline doesn't accurately reflect their chances against the Avalanche tonight. As a result, backing them on the moneyline is rated as a one-star play. Both teams rely on defensive metrics, which would imply that tonight's contest should be a low-scoring game. That aligns with our projections which rate the under 5.5 as a one-star play.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens

Under 5.5 (+116): 1-Star Rating out of 5

Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have been on defensive power trips over their recent sample. We're relying on those strong defensive metrics and looking at the under in this North Division battle tonight.

The Habs have some noteworthy defensive metrics propelling their recent successes. Montreal is limiting opponents to 8.0 high-danger chances and 18.2 scoring opportunities, across all strengths, over their last five games. Their average expected goals against during that span is 1.77, and three of the five games have stayed under the total.

Toronto is also coming in on strong defensive footing. Opponents are only mustering 8.5 chances from high-danger areas and 25.2 scoring chances over their last six games. At five-on-five, those metrics improve to 6.3 and 21.0, respectively, when adjusted to five-on-five instead of all strengths.

The last three times these teams have met, they have a combined average of 19.3 high-danger chances and 49.7 scoring chances per game, with an average expected total of 4.59 goals.

Our projections imply that there is an advantage in taking the under in this one. In reviewing these teams' recent metrics, defense will be paramount in this matchup, and goals will be at a premium. We're taking the under 5.5, which is rated as a one-star play.