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NHL Friday best bets: Hughes, Mercer to exploit Sharks

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We only have a two-game slate on Friday. Let's dig into the best ways to attack it.

Thomas Chabot over 2.5 shots

Chabot is expected to return to the lineup on Friday night. He'll be a welcome addition to a Senators team that's in the basement of the Eastern Conference.

Before his injury, Chabot was averaging better than 24 minutes per game. I don't think bench boss DJ Smith, who is likely coaching for his job right now, will hesitate to give his workhorse defenseman a ton of ice time.

It's certainly a great matchup for Chabot to jump back into. The Blue Jackets rank 29th in shots against per game this season and are one of the worst teams at limiting opposing defensemen. Only the Sharks, Islanders, and Coyotes have allowed more shots per game against the position.

The Blue Jackets' defensive profile was similar a season ago and Chabot took full advantage, piling up 12 shots on goal in three clashes.

Look for another active offensive performance this time around.

Jack Hughes over 4.5 shots

Hughes' shot volume is unmatched right now. He's 41 shots in six games since returning from injury, which equates to a ridiculous average of 6.83 shots on goal per contest.

That includes a game in which Hughes only had one shot on goal despite a whopping 11 attempts. His numbers could be - and should be - even higher.

Since rejoining the lineup, Hughes has averaged 12.16 shot attempts - and now has the best matchup of them all.

The Sharks are the worst team in the NHL. They give up shots and chances in bulk every single night and find themselves on a road back-to-back after taking on the powerhouse Bruins a night ago.

No team has allowed more shots per game this season - and a red-hot Hughes should take full advantage of that.

Odds: -135 (playable to -160)

Dawson Mercer over 0.5 points

Mercer has disappointed in the early going of this season, registering only nine points through 21 games. That's a 35-point pace, a far cry from the 56 he managed a year ago.

So why are we targeting him to find the scoresheet? One reason: Jack Hughes.

Mercer was put on a line with the Devils' superstar center a few games ago, and he's found the scoresheet in every game since, racking up five points. He's always been an efficient point producer and collected them at a top-line rate when riding shotgun with Hughes.

The latter is playing the best hockey of his career, and the Devils are going up against the worst team in the league, so this isn't a spot where Mercer will go quiet.

As long as he's attached to the hip of a guy averaging nearly two points per game, there's value in backing Mercer at anything close to his current price.

Odds: -135 (playable to -165)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @ToddCordell.

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