NHL Monday best bets: Squid games
We have just four games on the docket to start the week, and they're rather ugly. Five of the bottom eight teams in the NHL are in action, and only one game features two competitive teams (Calgary Flames versus Pittsburgh Penguins).
Still, there's value to be had. Let's comb through it.
Kraken (-140) at Sabres (+120)
Remember when the Buffalo Sabres were competent to start the year? Those days have long passed. Buffalo dropped five of its last six games and ranks 28th in expected goal share at five-on-five in the last 10 games. The Sabres are playing terrible hockey.
One of their biggest issues right now is generating offense. The Sabres are averaging 1.78 expected goals per 60 minutes in the last 10 games, good for 30th in the NHL.
It just so happens that the Seattle Kraken's bread and butter is suppressing opposing offenses. They've allowed 1.99 xG per 60 in the last 10, putting them just 0.01 behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and Calgary Flames for the best mark during that period.
They're making life easy on their goaltenders, which is probably why the Kraken have gotten quality starts from their netminder in three of the last four games.
Though the Kraken have performed better at home, they have a clear edge at five-on-five and should be able to suffocate Buffalo's rather lifeless attack.
I'd like the Kraken more if Aaron Dell started, but Dustin Tokarski playing for the third time in four nights is an advantageous spot, as well.
Bet: Kraken (-140)
Canucks (+105) at Canadiens (-125)
The Vancouver Canucks have won one of their last 10 games, and sweeping changes within the organization seem imminent. Backing them is a scary thought, I know, but I see value on this line.
For all of their faults, the Canucks haven't played that bad during this stretch. Their expected goal share is around 50% - sandwiching them between the Nashville Predators and New York Islanders - and they rank in the top 10 in Corsi For percentage at five-on-five.
Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens sit 25th in Corsi share and 29th in xG share during that same period. They've been particularly disastrous in their own zone, giving up 2.85 xG per 60 - more than all but the Philadelphia Flyers. They're horrendous at five-on-five, and their special teams are just as bad.
Factor in Vancouver's edge in goal - Thatcher Demko is one of the better young netminders in the league - and, even on the road, I think the wrong team is favored here.
Bet: Canucks (+105)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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