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I still find myself questioning the NHL's schedule-makers, who've made some inexplicable decisions over the past few days.
They scheduled just five games on the first Saturday with no NFL football only to play 11 on Championship Sunday. Then we get just one game Monday and two Wednesday, but nearly the entire league is playing Tuesday and Thursday. How hard is it to space things out?
At least we can enjoy a busy night tonight. Here are my favorite bets on the board.
The Penguins are being valued a bit high here coming off a pair of fortunate wins over the Rangers, in which they controlled less than 45% of the expected goal share at five-on-five. That's not to say Pittsburgh was entirely undeserving, but there was definitely some luck involved in what was essentially a pair of coin-flip games.
This is a significant step up in class against a Bruins team that has dominated since opening night despite results just recently starting to follow. Boston ranks second in the NHL in CF% (56.84%) and fourth in xGF% (57.07%) at five-on-five and has been strong on special teams as well. Pittsburgh is a hair under 50% in expected goal share at five-on-five.
We get a reasonably short price with the Bruins, who will control play at even strength and require no downgrades for special teams, against a Penguins team that's banged up defensively and weaker in goal.
Pick: Bruins (-135)
Both teams come into this game below .500 and in need of a boost, yet the perception seems to be that the Sabres have started the season strong while the Rangers are failing to meet expectations. And there is some truth to that, as Buffalo has been dominant at five-on-five.
The Sabres rank second in the NHL with a 57.67% share of the expected goals at five-on-five, but they've benefitted greatly from facing a Flyers team ranking last in the NHL in that regard as well as a Capitals team that ranks 25th and was incredibly shorthanded for its most recent two-game set against Buffalo.
Conversely, the Rangers have faced stiff competition thus far in the Penguins and Islanders and have impressed since a disastrous first game of the season. In the four contests since then, the Rangers have managed a 55.7% share of the expected goals at five-on-five but won just once. Positive regression is coming for New York offensively, and we're getting a discount tonight with a reactionary line.
Pick: Rangers (-105)
I typically don't like these chalky bets, but I'm seeing no reason to be concerned about the Avalanche, and this is a great spot for them offensively. Colorado has been dominating teams as expected, sitting sixth in CF% and seventh in xGF%.
The issue with the Avalanche has been, uncharacteristically, finishing their chances. But the floodgates are going to open soon enough, and all signs point to it being tonight against a Sharks team that employs one of the league's worst goaltending tandems. San Jose is allowing the fourth-most goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five and the seventh-most at all strengths. This is a prime get-right spot for Colorado.
Pick: Avalanche -1.5 (+110)
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, loves a juicy puck line, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.