For whatever number of reasons, scoring across the league has been way down this week, and the 24 NHL games that have taken place over the past 4 days have combined for an average of just 4.375 total goals per game. There were also 6 shutouts in these last 24 games, as well as two separate 1-0 finals, and seeing all of this has to at least cause some hesitation towards taking any games to go Over on Thursday. Of course, this abnormality isn’t likely to last too long, but until normalcy appears to resume, it may be advisable to just look towards betting Unders or moneyline bets instead.
Luckily for us, this Thursday seems to offer more than enough bets within those confines, and it appears that any looks at Overs can at least afford to be pushed aside for a day.
_ _ _
Top Over/Under Play: New York Islanders vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Under 5.5
Pros: Antero Niittymaki has allowed just 5 goals combined in his last 5 games, and realistically, the Islanders, who have scored just 2 goals in the first 3 games of their current road trip, shouldn’t be the team to end Niittymaki’s hot streak. On a recent 2-game trip, the Lightning held the streaking Capitals to just 3 goals and 31 shots, and their GAA in their last 5 games overall has been an incredible 1.20. Coincidentally, 1.20 has also been the average goals per game that the Islanders have been scoring in their last 5 overall, while the Lightning have been scoring a similarly low average of just 1.80.
Cons: The main concern here is that the Lightning have scored 4 on the Islanders in both meetings this season. These two meetings did take place, however, during a stretch where the Islanders lost 7 out of 9 games, but the Isles are also currently mired in a 5-game losing streak, where they’ve had one or two questionable goaltending performances as well. Both teams have also experienced some high-scoring stretches at one point or another during the season, so the potential for scoring also exists in the background.
The Verdict: The only number that hurts the case for the Under here is the Islanders’ 3.30 road GAA, but the Isles have bounced back from their recent 4-1 loss to Carolina to hold the Flyers and Panthers to just 2 goals each. It probably would not have been too surprising to see a 5.0 here either, so a 5.5 offers some good line value for two teams who have recently turned the offensive production down a notch.
_ _ _
Top Moneyline Play: Montreal Canadiens +140
The Pros: Montreal has won both meetings with Boston this season, holding the Bruins to just 1 goal in each of those games. The 1-goal mark has also become a recurring theme for Boston lately, as they have been held to that number of goals in 5 of their last 7 games, and also in 11 of the 30 home games that they have played so far this season. Montreal hasn’t fared too much better offensively on the road lately, but scoring 2 goals shouldn’t be that much of a stretch, considering that they do have one of the league’s best powerplays.
Cons: Boston couldn’t possibly lose another game, could they? The Bruins put up a good fight against Washington on Tuesday, and Montreal may be the weak spot in the schedule that they need to snap an 8-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Montreal has lost 5 of their last 6 on the road, and they have relied very heavily on good goaltending to bail them out of getting outplayed in a majority of recent games. Boston will probably be all over the Habs early, so this will be a bet on whether Halak or Price can withstand the desperate Bruins surge.
The Verdict: Whatever you do, just don’t bet on the “due” factor—not at -160 at least. Boston might be due to win, but the value is with the Habs here given how well Carey Price played against the Bruins in their previous two meetings this season, or how well Jaroslav Halak has been playing in his last five appearances. This looks to be another situation where you’ll be getting plus money in a close winnable game with the underdog.
_ _ _
Editors Choice: Washington Capitals -160
Pros: Despite the fact that the Capitals have been slowing down in their last 4 games, which have all been close up until the final periods, the Rangers will be in a tough spot here, flying back from a 3-game trip that ended on the west coast, and Washington should be able to take advantage of this. Meanwhile, Washington is averaging a whopping 4.72 goals per game during their current 11-game win streak, and the Rangers allowed 4 goals to Pittsburgh and 5 to Carolina during their most recent 2-game home stand. Even if Henrik Lundqvist can fend off the Capitals’ attack, the Rangers are only averaging 1.80 goals for in their last 5 games, and they were actually shut out in their 2 games before that.
Cons: Eventually, I am probably going to get burned on one of these ‘two teams going in opposite directions’ picks. I am also pretty sure that the Rangers would love to be the team to snap Washington’s franchise record-setting win streak, which will be great motivation for a slumping team. The Caps also didn’t look terribly convincing in their most recent victory over the Bruins, and since they just set the franchise record, this is quite the letdown spot for them.
The Verdict: I made this choice before considering the possibility of it being a letdown spot, but I am sticking to it. Jetlag will play a factor for the Rangers, and the Capitals are a difficult team to deal with on any night. I only need to win this bet 62% of the time to justify it anyway, but I am playing it lighter than I played the Caps on Tuesday.
_ _ _
Other Games: Personally, I am going to go with more of a small-ball approach for Thursday; smaller bets and more bets, since I like a lot but am not too crazy about anything in particular. Is there anything on the board that justifies a big play, that maybe I’m just not seeing?
Dallas doesn’t win on the road, so it’s tough to back them here. The Blue Jackets have gone L-W-L-W-LW-L-W-L in their last 9 so maybe another W is in order. I’ll pass though.
Vancouver opening as a road favourite again? I’ll fade them. Ottawa is actually 4-0 this season in back-to-backs at home.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Edmonton loses this game (“no way!”). Don’t have an official line yet, but I might consider MIN -1.5 or just MIN in reg.
For some reason Nashville has been in a tailspin ever since sweeping Western Canada. Meanwhile, every time that Colorado has begun to look legit, they have put up a puzzling loss (NYR on Sunday). Not sure. Don’t really like the Over either.
St Louis tends to keep it close with San Jose, but I think San Jose has the motivational advantage in this game, after losing to Detroit, and after St Louis beating Chicago. 3 meetings and 3 Unders so far this season, so the Under 5.5 is worth a look.
The Kings are the ultimate Pacific Division bullies, and I think they have a winning record this season against all of their division rivals. They’ve beaten Anaheim 4-0 and 4-3 this season. The Ducks do have a bit of momentum going though. Could go either way.