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We're one month into the regular season, and it might seem like we're early in the season but in recent NHL history, your position in the standings at Thanksgiving is a good indicator of where you'll finish at the end of the season. Sure, there's always some outliers, but for most of these teams we're gaining a clear idea of where they are.
Thursday offers us a tremendous NHL slate, featuring 11 games. We have some tremendous games on the slate including Edmonton-Boston and Minnesota-Vegas. All betting lines are as of Thursday afternoon and courtesy of BetMGM.
Dog of the day
Year-to-date record: 7-4-0
Year-to-date units: +5.05 units
My betting strategy with the Edmonton Oilers is very simple. I avoid them as big favorites, and I bet them when they're underdogs. The reasoning is simple. It's an extremely flawed team that struggles defensively, has questionable goaltending and lacks the depth some teams have. For that reason, laying juice with them is too risky for me.
However, they also have the best player in the league, the second-best scorer in the league and a collection of other dangerous options. They are more than capable of outscoring any team in this league, and for that reason they're always a good dog to bet on. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and company have the ability to wreck any game and I'll take that chance at plus-money.
Edmonton is on the road in Boston tonight, and the Oilers are +120 on the moneyline.
Boston is a deserving favorite. Despite their pedestrian 6-4 record, the Bruins have won three of their last four games. They rank third in the league in terms of expected-goal rate and second in shot-attempt share.
However, in case this game becomes a track meet, Boston will have a tough time scoring with the Oilers. Edmonton also has a slight goaltending advantage, as Mikko Koskinen has posted a +1.98 GSAx (goals saved above expectation) compared to Linus Ullmark's -2.83 GSAx.
I'll take the best player in this league as an underdog, sit back and enjoy watching the show.
Rest of the slate
There are 10 other games on Thursday's NHL slate. These are some other games that might be worth a bet. I hope you're ready for some short road favorites.
Calgary @ Montreal: The Montreal Canadiens have lost 11 of their first 14 games this season and they're now on a 3-game losing streak. The Flames had a six-game winning streak earlier in the season, but outside of that they've been pretty mediocre. However, Calgary is not on the verge of falling apart completely like Montreal. Calgary has better underlying metrics as well as a goaltending advantage. I'll back the Flames at their current price of -140.
Florida @ Pittsburgh: After winning their first eight games, the Panthers have lost three of their last five. Both Florida and Pittsburgh have strong underlying metrics, but Pittsburgh is missing its most talented players and its coach due to COVID. I like Florida to get back on track here, and I'd back the Panthers as a -125 road favorite.
Washington @ Detroit: Shoutout to the Red Wings as they're definitely no longer the embarrassing walk-over opponent that they have been the past few years. With that being said, they still have a ways to go. Washington ranks sixth in expected goal rate, fifth in goals scored and ninth in goals against. The Capitals are 6-2-4 on the season, and they deserve better. I'll play the Caps at the current -135 line.
Below are the expected goaltenders for tonight's games. Back-up goaltenders are in bold.
Edmonton Oilers (Mikko Koskinen) @ Boston Bruins (Linus Ullmark)
Calgary Flames (Jacob Markstrom) @ Montreal Canadiens (Jake Allen)
LA Kings (Jonathan Quick) @ Ottawa Senators (Filip Gustavsson)
NY Islanders (Unknown) @ NJ Devils (likely Mackenzie Blackwood)
Florida Panthers (Sergei Bobrovsky) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (Tristan Jarry)
Washington Capitals (Zach Fucale) @ Detroit Red Wings (Unknown)
Nashville Predators (Unknown) @ St. Louis Blues (Jordan Binnington)
San Jose Sharks (James Reimer) @ Winnipeg Jets (Connor Hellebuyck)
Vancouver Canucks (Thatcher Demko) @ Colorado Avalanche (Darcy Kuemper)
Minnesota Wild (Cam Talbot) @ Vegas Golden Knights (Unknown)
Anaheim Ducks (John Gibson) @ Seattle Kraken (Philipp Grubauer)