NHL Betting Guide: Saturday 4/24/21
Here we go!
There are some important matchups on today's NHL schedule. The Calgary Flames play the second night of a back-to-back against the Montreal Canadiens; they are six points below them in the standings and sweeping the three straight games they have against them would go a long way to helping them sneak into a playoff spot.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers are battling it out for top spot in the NHL Central, and they have another pivotal matchup as they battle for home-ice advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Can you feel the playoff intensity in the air?
Here are the plays from our daily projections.
The first stop game on the Hockey Night in Canada schedule is a battle between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets. The Jets had the upper hand when these teams met two nights ago; we're expecting more of the same tonight with a different outcome.
Winnipeg posted a 52.3% expected goals-for percentage at five-on-five on Thursday night, out-possessing, out-shooting and out-chancing the Leafs in scoring and high-danger chances. The same was true across strengths, as the Jets held an advantage in every relative production metric -- but still lost 5-3.
Unexpectedly, goaltending has let down the Jets over their recent sample. Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit have combined to stop just 88.9% of shots over the last five games, posting a save percentage below 88.0% in three of those contests. For the season, Hellebuyck and Brossoit have combined for the fifth-best save percentage in the league at 91.3%. Expect progression from the Jets' goalies.
The Leafs have been slumping recently. They've out-possessed just two of their last six opponents and out-shot only three of them. The decreased efficiency comes at a time when their goaltending is also slumping. Toronto goaltenders have allowed three or more goals in seven straight and are stopping only 85.4% of shots in that span.
Toronto is in a tough spot against the Jets. The Leafs' production metrics are regressing at a time when their goaltending is faltering. Our model projects the Jets as 54.1% favorites to win outright, but Winnipeg is priced as underdogs at FanDuel Sportsbook. That leaves an edge in backing the Jets to win (two-star bet) and cover the puckline (three stars).
Florida Panthers vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Under 5.5 (+104)
The Florida Panthers have played a good brand of hockey over their recent sample. We're expecting them to improve on their recent metrics and get the better of the the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night in Florida.
Carolina has outplayed four of their last six opponents at five-on-five by posting an expected goals-for percentage above 50.0%, with three of those game scores coming in higher than 61.1%. Defense has been the backbone of the Canes' recent successful run. They have limited four of their last six opponents to eight or fewer high-danger chances and held opponents to 21 or fewer scoring opportunities in five of six. Overall, they have allowed five goals at five-on-five in those six games.
The Panthers have been one of the best defensive teams all season. They have allowed the fifth-fewest high-danger and scoring chances and are top 10 in Corsi rating, controlling the puck 52.1% of the time at five-on-five. They jump up to the fourth position in Corsi rating and scoring chances against when we consider only their home-ice metrics.
Florida is on a particularly staunch defensive run. Over the last five games, they are limiting opponents to an average of 17.2 scoring chances and 6.0 opportunities from high-danger areas.
This game means a lot to both teams as they look to secure home ice advantage through the divisional rounds of the playoffs. We're expecting that tight-checking mentality to contribute to a low-scoring game. Under 5.5 at plus-money is the play.