NHL Wednesday best bets: Expect fireworks in Anaheim
With American Thanksgiving just a day away, the NHL is offering a full plate of games prior to the mini-break.
Let's dive into a couple that stand out with our best bets.
The Penguins' on-ice product didn't look as bad as their record indicated over their seven-game skid. But I'm not sure they're as good as the results suggest over their 5-1-1 run that followed.
Over the last seven games, Pittsburgh ranked 16th in expected goal share - coming in just above 51% - and won the high-danger chance battle by a total of five. The team played competent hockey but nothing special.
The wins have masked a lot of flaws that remain with the Penguins. There isn't much scoring depth, a lot of their aging players have shown signs of decline, and No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang has struggled mightily in the defensive zone.
Although the Flames have dealt with their own issues this campaign, their process was strong even when the results weren't there. And now the wins are starting to come.
A big factor is Calgary is starting to figure things out on the wings. Centers Elias Lindholm, Nazem Kadri, and Mikael Backlund have mostly been reliable for the club. But the Flames needed to find wingers to work around them.
Adam Ruzicka has quietly produced eight points in eight games while skating in the top six. Jonathan Huberdeau is starting to find his footing in Calgary, getting on the scoresheet in four of the last five.
Things are really coming together for Darryl Sutter's side offensively, and - with the personnel they have - there's not much reason to be concerned about them at the other end.
I think the Flames are a tier above the Penguins and expect it to show in this game.
Bet: Flames (+100)
The Ducks are an absolute disaster. This will be their 20th game of the season, and they still haven't recorded a regulation win.
The biggest reason for the club's struggles is it can't defend a lick. At five-on-five, Anaheim has allowed shots, expected goals, and high-danger chances at a higher rate than every NHL team.
As you'd expect, the Ducks' numbers on the penalty kill are similarly terrible. They rank bottom five in most categories and have conceded power-play goals at a higher clip than all but the Canucks. No matter the game state, quality and quantity are there for their opponent each night.
The Rangers have been a mediocre offensive side at five-on-five, but this is certainly a matchup that'll help bring out the best in them. They also remain an extremely dangerous team on the power play and are more than capable of making the putrid Ducks' penalty kill pay. Even in a back-to-back, New York should be able to fill the net in this game.
I expect Anaheim to contribute its fair share as well. The Rangers are expected to start Jaroslav Halak, who has struggled mightily in the early going of this campaign. The veteran backup has lost all five starts and given up 16 goals in that span.
Halak's minus-0.623 mark in average goals saved above expectation per 60 minutes ranks 57th out of the 63 goaltenders to appear in at least five games this season.
Expect plenty of goals in this one.
Bet: Over 6 (-115)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.