NHL Betting Guide: Monday 2/6/23
Just two days after the NHL All-Star Game, the league is back to regular play. As a player, I'd be furious. As a bettor? I'm happy to have slates back on the docket.
Where should we start our second half strong?
Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
Lightning ML (-125) - 2 Stars
The Panthers might get their top-two netminders back after the break, but it doesn't make much of an impact in our model's recommendation here.
Alex Lyon is the projected starter in the model at present, and in terms of goals saved above expectation (GSAx), Lyon (-1.43 GSAx) might be the best option. Primary starters Sergei Bobrovsky (-2.98 GSAx) and Spencer Knight (-2.17 GSAx) haven't exactly been better.
On the other side is likely why the Lightning get the nod in a close handicap. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been his usual stellar self, ranking sixth in GSAx across the league (17.07).
Since January 1st, these are dead even teams as skaters. The Bolts have posted an expected-goals-for rate (xGF%) of 51.1%, and the Ice Cats are at 51.0%. Goaltending makes all the difference.
That's why our model believes, on a short trip down I-95, Tampa wins this game 61.9% of the time against these 55.6% implied odds.
New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers
Under 5.5 (+100) - 2 Stars
Goaltending will remain the theme here with a contrarian under. I'm a bit surprised just 27% of bets and 29% of the handle are on this side given the Islanders and Flyers' strengths and weaknesses.
There's a reason the Isles just dealt for Bo Horvat. Since January 1st, they've posted the ninth-fewest expected goals (xGF) in the NHL (2.82). Philadelphia has posted the 17th-fewest (3.24) in the middle of the pack. These mediocre offenses should have a tough time scoring.
That's especially true for Philadelphia. Ilya Sorokin is the brick wall that will await them in goal, leading the league in GSAx (33.56). He'd have likely been joined by Carter Hart (14.35 GSAx) at this weekend's All-Star Game if the Flyers' goalkeeper didn't also play in a division with Igor Shesterkin.
This low total isn't low enough, per our model. We see the under hitting 55.5% of the time, which is a two-star wager against these even 50.0% implied odds.
Calgary Flames at New York Rangers
Rangers ML (-125) - 2 Stars
We'll round out our reconnection with the league's best keepers with the aforementioned Shesterkin.
At 15.75 GSAx, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been a bit ahead of Hart, so I'm not here to invalidate his All-Star bid. Now, at home off the break, he's in a great position to head a second-half surge from New York.
This matchup was a popular Stanley Cup Finals pick, and Calgary's skaters are starting to make it a distinct possibility. Their 57.7 xGF% since January 1st is second in the NHL. While the Rangers have ranked just 12th (51.4%), they've once again been close enough to notice the gap in net.
Jacob Markstrom was a Vezina finalist a year ago, but 2022-23 has been a bit of a struggle. He's posted -0.52 GSAx.
That's the most obvious reason our model is backing the Rags at home. It thinks they win 62.0% of the time versus these 55.6% implied odds.