This article is part of our Handicapping the NHL series.
RotoWire's AJ Scholz takes a deep dive into his favorite bets ahead of Thursday's 11-game slate, including a look at the Moneyline, Puckline, total and player props with odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Picking the Favorite: Among the favorites, there aren't a lot of choices to pick from unless you want to give up over -200 in juice, leaving you the Penguins (-145), Rangers (-125), Blackhawks (-180) and Jets (-135). The easiest option would seem to be the Penguins who just welcomed back Evgeni Malkin in blazing fashion with two goals and one assist in his return to action against Anaheim on Tuesday. On top of that is the play of netminder Tristan Jarry who is 8-1 in his last nine outings including a phenomenal 1.78 GAA.
Finding an Underdog: With all the heavily favored clubs, you can get some tremendous value on the underdogs, none more so than the Sabres at +230 facing off with the Nashville Predators. While that might be a little too risky, another option is the Kraken at +185 versus the Blues. While Seattle has plenty of its own problems, starting with netminder Philipp Grubauer being on a seven-game losing streak, this Blues team is still without Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn and David Perron, all of whom are in COVID-19 protocols and account for 19 percent of the points tallied by the team.
Covering the Puckline
Favorite Team to Cover: The Flyers are 4-3-3 in their last 10 and 7-8-4 on the road this year, so while you won't get a ton of value taking the Bruins to cover the -1.5 Puckline, you are still getting slightly better than even money at +105. Boston will be entering the contest on the second game of a back-to-back but should get a boost in the return of Tuukka Rask who will be making his first start since June 9 versus the Islanders in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Best of the Rest: I mentioned Seattle v St. Louis above as a Moneyline target but it also looks good taking the Kraken +1.5 on the Puckline when you can only give up a little bit of juice at -135. While I wouldn't take the full risk on the Sabres pulling off the upset of the Preds, they also fall into the same target range here, returning +110 which is a nearly unheard-of value at +1.5 on the puckline.
Betting the Total
Taking the Over: While I fully understand the Islanders' offense has been completely lackluster this year, the Devils are going to be forced to utilize Jon Gillies between the pipes. The netminder has played in two games this year after having gone without an NHL appearance for the previous three years. With the game total set at 5.5, this is a great spot to take the over (-110). I'd also consider taking the over in the two late games, Penguins vs. Kings and Rangers vs. Sharks, only because both totals are sitting at 5.5 with a high-powered offense in each game.
Spotting the Under: In the Chicago vs. Montreal game, you have two of the league's worst offenses at 2.33 and 2.12 goals per game, respectively, squaring off. There is little reason to think this won't be another low-scoring affair, especially considering the Habs haven't been on the ice since Jan. 1 with it being even longer for some of their guys, including Mike Hoffman, Christian Dvorak and Joel Armia. All that to say, even with the total set at 5.5, the under seems a solid play at -110.
Favorite Player Props
Anytime Goal Scorer: Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel has been nearly unstoppable of late with points in 18 straight games for a total of 15 goals and 12 helpers. As such, there are several options you can look at with him on the DraftKings Sportsbook, starting with anytime goalscorer at +115, over 0.5 points at -230 and over 0.5 assists at +105. Of the three, I prefer the goalscorer option, especially considering the amount of juice you have to give up for a point but if you're already taking one of the other two, the point over is worth a bonus.
To Win with a Shutout: Technically, this isn't a player prop but it is mostly dependant on the starting netminder. It's definitely a long shot, but Tuukka Rask returning to the lineup for the first time could be a boost for the Bruins are facing a diminished Flyers squad, so getting the Bruins at +600 to win in a shutout is an intriguing option. In a similar line of thought, you could also look at the Blackhawks at +600 given the struggling Habs.