NHL Tuesday best bets: A quartet of plus-money plays
Winning bets is fun. Losing them? Not so much. The Variance Monster bit us on Monday as the Islanders and Maple Leafs racked up an unforeseeable 7.5 expected goal (xG) count at even strength, sending the game over a total that dropped a full goal from 6.5 to 5.5 before the opening faceoff.
Beating the market with that kind of closing-line value should provide better results, but that's the nature of sports. Things like the Stars outperforming the Sabres 15-5 in high-danger chances can happen, and when you get the wrong Buffalo goalie, a bet can go awry. Fortunately, there are plenty of wagers to choose from Tuesday as we look to get back in the winning saddle.
We'll start with our bread and butter: a moneyline value play fit for the weekly betting guide. With a season-long 52.3 xG% and a 55.8% high-danger chance rate at even-strength, the Sharks will offer are value often. The Red Wings are the inverse, with five-on-five percentage rates in the mid-40s.
Both teams have middle-of-the-road power plays, but San Jose's penalty kill is third in the NHL. Why don't the Sharks win more games? Goaltending. In most cases, finding consistent value with one team means the goalies aren't up to snuff.
James Reimer hasn't been good this season, but he's the best option for San Jose. Ville Husso, meanwhile, hasn't been much better in his first season with the Red Wings; this matchup is close to even, with my projections giving the Sharks a 48.6% chance to win. A +130 moneyline implies San Jose will win 43.5% of the time, and a 5% edge is enough to take a shot on the Sharks.
Pick: Sharks (+130)
Bettors are jumping ship on the Golden Knights, whose Pacific Division lead has dwindled with a 5-7 moneyline record since the Christmas break. Still, Vegas is tied with the Hurricanes in allowing the fewest even-strength high-danger chances in the NHL in that time.
Known for having a substantial home-ice advantage, the Golden Knights are an impressive 15-4-2 on the road this season. They shouldn't fear traveling to face the Devils - who are a surprising .500 on the moneyline at home. New Jersey has experienced regression of its own after an incredible start, ranking 23rd in xG% at five-on-five since Christmas.
Season-long metrics indicate the Golden Knights have a 43.5% chance to win a game that's lined as though they're 40% likely. Given home-road splits and the Devils' average play of late, jump back on the Vegas boat at +150.
Pick: Golden Knights (+150)
In the last of our value plays, we've got the Predators as 55% favorites at home against the Jets, who aren't the same team on the road that they are at the Canada Life Centre. They carry even-strength play at a 53% rate in Winnipeg, but it's the inverse on the road, and we're getting even money on Nashville.
The Jets play their last contest of a five-game, eight-day road trip that's taken them from eastern Canada through Philadelphia and down to Music City. The Predators have played just twice in that time, and Juuse Saros continued his strong play at home - where he's a half-goal better than he is on the road - with a Saturday win against the Kings.
Pick: Predators (+100)
This has nothing to do with the numbers, as the metrics in the moneyline guide indicate we need +212 to consider backing the Blackhawks. But these two teams have vastly different vibes around them right now.
Normally, the inclination is to back a team that just fired its head coach because that usually happens midseason after the players have quit on the incumbent. That's not the case in Vancouver, where the Canucks have publicly embarrassed themselves in their handling of fan-favorite Bruce Boudreau. Vancouver's players have had ample opportunity to jump to life and play better defense to protect leads. Instead, they've proven incapable of doing so time and again. That shouldn't immediately change with a new voice in the dressing room.
If the Canucks win, it's because Chicago is bad. But the Blackhawks have won six of their last eight - apparently losing interest in tanking narratives. Historically, they're always up for a trip to Vancouver, and it makes more sense to bet on the team feeling good and giving maximum effort at +190 than to lay a big price amid a messy situation.
Pick: Blackhawks (+190)
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.