NHL Betting Guide: Wednesday 1/20/21

It was an overtime bonanza in the NHL last night with four of the seven games requiring overtime. Overs were equally profitable with four of the seven eclipsing the total. Let’s hope those trends continue with the five-game slate tonight.

Here are a few plays from tonight’s board.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Edmonton Oilers

Oilers +1.5 (-190): 4-Star Rating Out of 5
Oilers moneyline (+138): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

Defensive inefficiencies continue to plague the NHL North-leading Toronto Maple Leafs and that could be a big problem against one of the league’s more efficient offenses in the Edmonton Oilers.

Toronto is better at limiting shots and scoring chances, but once teams gain the attacking zone and that is when they do their most damage. Across all strengths, the Leafs have given up exactly 13 high-danger chances against in three of their four games this season. Consequently, they’ve given up more high-danger goals than they’ve created. The other concerning metric for the Leafs is that they have been outscored at five-on-five this season. It’s one thing to give up opportunities against, but if they can’t find a way to be more productive offensively, then more losses are sure to follow.

The Leafs’ deficiencies are where the Oilers thrive. Edmonton currently leads the league in high-danger chances. In four games this season, the Oilers have managed no less than 11 such opportunities and are averaging 15.0 per game across all strengths. Finishing is where the Oilers have struggled this season, as they’ve scored on only 7.2% of their shots. There is a disconnect between what the Oilers’ production and output that should balance out over the coming games.

The remedy for the Oilers’ early-season offensive woes might come at the expense of the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is an implied advantage in taking the Oilers on the moneyline, which we rate as a two-star play, but even if they don’t win, they should at least be able to keep it competitive. As such, taking the Oilers +1.5 is a four-star play.

St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks

Blues moneyline (-200): 4-Star Rating Out of 5
Blues -1.5 (+138): 2-Star Rating Out of 5
Over 5.5 (-125): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues put on quite an offensive display last time out, combining for nine goals in a 5-4 Blues win. Taking a look at the metrics from that game gives us reason to believe that St. Louis duplicates that success.

Credit to the Sharks for keeping it close, but they were absolutely dismantled. At five-on-five, San Jose managed 16 shots, 8 scoring chances, and 0 high-danger opportunities, yet they still managed 2 goals. Those metrics improved only marginally across all strengths, moving to 26, 13, and 2, respectively. Overall, the Sharks scored 15.4% of their shots while failing to generate any significant scoring opportunities. Hardly a recipe for success.

Not surprisingly, St. Louis is bringing their sound defensive structure back for another season. At five-on-five, they are one of the best teams in the league. Through three games, the Blues have given up 32 scoring chances and 13 high-danger chances, cumulatively in all three games. But problems arise when looking at their penalty kill. The Blues have given up powerplay goals in all three games and have the second-worst kill percentage in the league. Whether they find a way to kill penalties more efficiently or take fewer of them, this problem will be remedied.

According to our algorithm, there is a substantive advantage in taking the Blues on the moneyline, which we rate as a four-star play. There are also implied advantages in taking the Blues to cover the puckline and the over, both of which are two-star plays.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Arizona Coyotes

Coyotes +1.5 (-162): 3-Star Rating Out of 5
Coyotes moneyline (+176): 2-Star Rating Out of 5
Under 5.5 (-105): 2-Star Rating Out of 5

Tonight’s encounter between the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights will be the second of four straight between the clubs. Things could get a little testy when playing the same team four times in a row, and if Monday night was any indication with a combined 10 penalties, don’t be surprised if things get heated over the next couple of games.

The Coyotes did a lot of things right in their first game against the Golden Knights. They dominated possession at five-on-five, created more shots, and held the Golden Knights scoreless through five powerplays. But the Coyotes blew their lead in the third period, giving up three unanswered goals, including an empty-netter in defeat.

At this point, we know what to expect from Vegas. They have an imposing offense, with four lines that contribute but they also have an underrated defense, particularly in their own end. Teams are averaging just 24.7 scoring chances and 6.3 high-danger chances per game. Their PDO is also inflated thanks to their 12.2% shooting percentage and 93.4% save percentage. As that comes back to average, Vegas will find themselves in closer games and eventually a few losses.

Arizona has the blueprint to defeat the Knights, they just need to play the full 60 minutes tonight. Vegas will see their PDO come back down to normal and consequently tighter checking games. According to our projections, tonight is one of those games. Backing the Yotes at +1.5 is a two-star play. That also means that there’s value in taking Arizona straight up and the under 5.5, both of which are two-star plays.