NHL weekend best bets: Jets to take flight in Nashville
We have a jam-packed day of action ahead of us Saturday, with 26 of the NHL's 32 teams in action.
Let's take a closer look at a couple worth backing.
Jets (-140) @ Predators (+120)
March 18, 2 p.m. ET
Despite their recent success, I've been extremely bearish on the Predators. They simply don't have the finishing talent or depth to keep winning games while posting such pedestrian underlying numbers.
They showed us firsthand how lows the lows can be Thursday against the Blackhawks, getting blanked by a bare-bones roster in a must-win game at home.
I think that's the tip of the iceberg for what we'll see from them down the stretch. Hats off to the Predators for staying afloat with the personnel at hand, but it just isn't good enough.
It showed against Chicago, and I expect that will be the case again Saturday versus the Jets.
The Jets are frustratingly inconsistent but have a dynamic top six, which will only be aided by the expected return of Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Their defensive metrics have also been above average since the deadline. When they do suffer breakdowns, they have a probable Vezina finalist in Connor Hellebuyck there to clean up.
I expect the desperate and more talented Jets to control the run of play and generate chances in bulk, as they usually do against the Predators. (They've averaged 39 shots over the past four meetings.) If that's the case, it probably won't even matter that Juuse Saros is at the other end.
Bet: Jets (-140)
Bruins (-165) @ Wild (+140)
Mar. 18, 2 p.m. ET
If you like offense, you'll probably want to go ahead and skip this game. The defenses and goaltenders are simply too good.
The Bruins have conceded five-on-five goals at a lower rate than anybody this season. They also grade out in the top five when it comes to suppressing chances.
They didn't have Charlie McAvoy to start the year and only recently acquired stout two-way defenseman Dmitry Orlov. This version of the Bruins - especially defensively - is better than the one we've seen all season, which is a scary thought.
Then there's the Wild. They rank third in goals against per 60 at five-on-five and fourth in expected goals against. They really don't give their opponents much.
Getting creating quality looks against these defenses is difficult enough, but the forwards have to finish those chances efficiently.
I don't see that happening too often in a likely goaltending duel between Linus Ullmark and Filip Gustavsson.
Ullmark owns a .935 save percentage for the season, leads the league in goals saved above expected, and is the odds-on favorite to bring home the Vezina.
He's expected to square off against the only goaltender who has kept him company in most categories. Gustavsson has a .931 save percentage through 31 appearances and, on a per start basis, ranks only behind Ullmark in GSAE.
Gustavsson has conceded two goals or fewer in 14 of his last 18 games. Given the level he's playing at and the absence of Kirill Kaprizov, you can bet the Wild be doing their best to suck the life out of the game and let their goalie do the rest.
I think this is going to be a tight checking, low-event game that features arguably the NHL's two best netminders this season. We're unlikely to see many goals as a result.
Bet: Under 5.5 (Even)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
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