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NHL Best Bets: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, January 6th
Recap: Thursday’s best get on the Capitals didn’t get off to a great start, but the Capitals got it together and won the game 6-2.
Washington Capitals -155
I’m tracking all my plays on Betstamp: a third party bet tracking app. The bets reveal themselves after the games start. I keep my own personal records as well and they may differ slightly from Betstamp due to several factors, but for the most part, it should line up closely.
All game lines via DraftKings Sportsbook and BetMGM Sportsbook, but I will sometimes use the consensus odds from the VSiN NHL Odds page if it is a better price and widely available. All recommended bets will be accompanied by recommended stake size. All stats via Evolving Hockey and Natural Stat Trick.
Bet: Washington Capitals -155
Both Washington and Nashville won road games on Thursday, but the Predators did so on the back of Juuse Saros. Saros became just the fourth goaltender in NHL history to stop at least 64 shots in a regular season game, and the Predators beat the Hurricanes 5-3. Carolina outshot Nashville 67-25.
Washington, on the other hand, once again relied on their offense to get the job done, scoring at least four goals for the 11th time in their last 14 games, but their goaltending has been solid, too. Thursday’s starter, Darcy Kuemper, and Friday’s projected starter, Charlie Lindgren, have combined to allow two or fewer goal in 11 of their last 15 games.
Nashville is on a bit of a run here, scoring at least four goals in six out of their last eight games, but they’re the sixth-worst team on offense year-to-date and they don’t do anything particularly well. Backup goaltender Kevin Lankinen has been good this season, but he doesn’t start nearly enough for bettors like me to get a good read on him.
Washington’s moneyline odds are appropriate given what we know right now, but if the Capitals get Tom Wilson and/or Nicklas Backstrom back in the lineup (both are strong possibilities) their odds could jump up around the -180 range. The Capitals play the next three games at home and the belief is that Wilson and Backstrom will both make their debuts during this stretch.
According to my sources in Washington, on top of Nick Dowd returning after missing one game for the birth of his child, we should also expect to see one of Backstrom or Wilson take the ice against the Predators on Friday, and therefore, I believe there’s enough upside to justify betting on the Capitals at -155 to win one unit.
Update: Unfortunately Backstrom and Wilson will apparently need another game off before returning. It's unfortunate, but hopefully Washington will find a way to win like they have many times over the last month plus.
Both Calgary and New York are incredibly difficult to figure out, and I don’t have a lot of confidence in my model’s ability to price a game between them. I am, however, confident that the Flames are not a good bet. Betting on the Flames has not been profitable, and they have underperformed as big favorites. In fact, the Flames have come into nine home games with odds of at least -190 and they’re 3-6 in those games.
My model is a little too close to +180 to justify betting on the Islanders in this situation, but they’re the only side worth considering here. Calgary might have strong peripherals, but we’re almost at the halfway point of the season. The Flames have yet to find a remedy for their offensive struggles, and their goaltending hasn’t given them a boost. Both teams are accustomed to winning and losing close games, which leaves a lot of room for luck to come into play on Friday.
Notes: Jacob Markstrom is expected to start for the Flames, while Semyon Varlamov will likely get the nod for the Islanders. Varlamov has not played since Dec. 17th and a long layoff is always cause for concern.
Tampa Bay is coming of a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday. Check out my story about how multiple beat writers misreported the Lightning’s starting goaltender prior to that game and learn some tips on how to distinguish good beat reporting from bad.
This is the third game in four days for the Lightning, and they’re likely going to be up against one of the best goaltenders in the league, Connor Hellebuyck. However, Andrei Vasilevskiy has not started since Dec. 31st and although he did miss the last game due to an illness, he was able to back up Brian Elliott. In other words, expect The Big Cat to be back between the pipes on Friday.
Winnipeg is also expected to get three important players back in the lineup, too, as Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler and Cole Perfetti had regular spots at Thursday’s practice. Ehlers hasn’t played since the start of the season (two games) and Wheeler has been out for a few weeks. If both players return, my NHL betting model predicts that the Jets will win almost 51 percent of the time. That converts to a fair moneyline of -103.
Update: Connor Hellebuyck is expected to start in goal for the Jets.