SportsGrid NHL Model Picks for Saturday, November 25
Saturday is synonymous with hockey. It’s typically the busiest day of the week in the NHL, featuring a bevy of intriguing matchups. That leaves many in-roads for bettors looking for edges in the gambling market.
To help players get a winning edge, we’re highlighting some of our favorite plays from the SportsGrid NHL Model.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Penguins Moneyline (+104): 5-Star Rating
A classic Hockey Night in Canada showdown between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins highlights another busy night in the NHL. After gallivanting in Europe last week, the Leafs returned stateside with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. That could be a sign of things to come as Toronto fends off a challenging schedule, short rest, and deteriorating metrics.
Going from North America to Europe to play two games and then returning for a back-to-back is no easy feat. That puts the Maple Leafs in a tough spot on Saturday night. Toronto has traveled over 8,660 miles over the past week and is taking on one of the best analytics teams in the league.
Worse, the Leafs’ on-ice product has fallen apart to start the campaign. The Original Six franchise has a cumulative 49.1% expected goals-for rating at five-on-five. Practically, that translates to getting outplayed in seven of their past ten. Conversely, the Pens rank eighth in the NHL in expected goals-for rating, with a 52.9% rating on the year.
Bettors are taking a stance on the Penguins, and it’s the right side to be on. The Penguins have home-ice advantage, taking on a well-traveled Leafs squad with inferior metrics. We’re using this spot to back Pittsburgh, rating it as a five-star play.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders
Under 6.5 (-140): 5-Star Rating
Two Metropolitan Division foes renew acquaintances on Saturday night as the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers. Both teams come into this one on pronounced under streaks, a trend that should continue at UBS Arena.
Philadelphia has been a solid under play for the past month. Since October 30, the Flyers have gone over the total just twice, posting a 7-2-2 record to the under. Over that stretch, the Flyers are holding opponents to just 8.8 high-danger chances per game, with only three teams exceeding nine opportunities.
The Islanders are coming into this one amid a surge in scoring, but that increase is contraindicated in some of their offensive analytics. New York is one of the worst-scoring teams in the league. Collectively, they have the fourth-worst shooting percentage at five-on-five, scoring on just 7.2% of shots. We’ve seen that metric plummet further over their recent sample, with the Islanders shooting percentage falling to 5.6% over their previous five home games.
Money is pouring in on the under. Bettors have moved this line to -140, but there’s still a significant advantage in making the play. According to our projections, this total should land at five goals, so we should feel confident playing the under.
Arizona Coyotes vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Under 6.5 (-122): 5-Star Rating
With our final pick, we’re making another play on a total, highlighting the Western Conference slugfest between the Arizona Coyotes and Vegas Golden Knights. Somewhat surprisingly, the Knights have been one of the most reliable under teams this season, a characteristic that’s more evident at home.
Opponents are finding it impossible to score goals on the Golden Knights. Vegas has stayed beneath the total in 12 of 20 games this season or 60.0% of games. That number jumps even higher in their friendly confines, with the Knights staying under in seven of ten (70.0%).
Moreover, Vegas has dialed up its defensive zone coverage of its recent sample. The Golden Knights have limited five of their last seven opponents to eight or fewer high-danger and 24 or fewer scoring opportunities, with respective averages of 7.1 and 22.1.
The Knights have a seemingly impenetrable defensive shell, a fact that the offensively underwhelming Coyotes will reinforce. Arizona sits in the bottom half of the league in most offensive categories, ranking 21st in scoring and high-danger chances, 26th in Corsi rating, and 20th in expected goals-for.
All of those factors play into this game staying under 6.5. We rate it as a five-star wager.
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