NHL Betting Guide: Thursday 4/27/23

I went to a system bet last week in Game 2s, and I'll do so again tonight. The Winnipeg Jets and Tampa Bay Lightning are on the brink of elimination tonight, but underlying data suggests they should be winning the series if not for an unfortunate, untimely goaltending drop.

They're both plus-money underdogs, so I'll play both, and just like last week, if we hit one, we'll profit. If we hit two...

Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Header links are to numberFire's betting model for each game. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.

New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils

Devils ML (-120)

Before the system plays, I want to talk about this Rangers-Devils series that has totally flipped on its head.

I picked New York before the series on the assumption they'd get outskated, but I also figured Igor Shesterkin would significantly outperform Vitek Vanecek in goal, and he has. Shesterkin leads the playoffs in goals saved above expectation (4.69 GSAx) so far, and Vanecek (-2.99 GSAx) got crushed in the first two games until Akira Schmid entered.

He was New Jersey's hero in Games 3 and 4 (3.26 GSAx), and this series is tied. Realistically, the Devils (2.95 expected goals scored per 60 minutes in this series) have significantly outpaced the Rangers (2.74 xGF per 60) between the lines, and if Schmid is going to keep up with Shesterkin, this one could be a wrap.

Schmid was phenomenal in the regular season, sporting 8.67 GSAx in just 18 games. I don't think this run in the playoffs is a fluke; New Jersey has found its netminder, turned to him at the right time, and might control this series beyond tonight.

Winnipeg Jets at Vegas Golden Knights

Jets ML (+152)

To avoid a spell of deja vu, this reasoning is nearly identical to why I'll be on the Lightning ML (+132) tonight in Toronto. I just won't write it up twice.

It's unbelievable this series is 3-1 in favor of Vegas, but a Connor Hellebuyck slump at the wrong time might have doomed Winnipeg. The xGF per 60 minutes in this series slightly favor Vegas at 2.84 to Winnipeg's 2.77. It's the closest playoff series on paper other than Toronto-Tampa (2.87 to 2.83). You now sense the similarities here.

If that had been the case, I'd have expected Winnipeg to be up 3-1 in the series. Hellebuyck posted the fourth-best GSAx in hockey this year (33.82), dwarfing Vegas' Laurent Brossoit (6.52 GSAx), who spent time in the AHL this season. However, in this series, Brossoit (-0.54 GSAx) has thoroughly outplayed Hellebuyck (-2.12 GSAx).

In a longer sample, Hellebuyck should be the better goaltender. The same could be said for Tampa's Andrei Vasilevskiy (-5.51 GSAx in the playoffs) against Toronto's Ilya Samsonov (-1.70). The better goalies are now down to zero margin for error, though.

We'll guarantee a profit if one of these netminders finds their form and staves off elimination.