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NHL Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday, December 20th
Tuesdays Best Bets: Pittsburgh Penguins -135
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.
Wins: 44 Losses: 48 Units Won: -5.77 units ROI: -12.1 percent
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: Pittsburgh Penguins -135
Pittsburgh had its seven-game win streak snapped in Carolina on Sunday, now they face a Rangers team that’s currently on their own seven-game win streak. The latter hasn’t played well against top-tier competition, though. Just recently, they were badly outplayed by New Jersey, Toronto and Colorado but somehow (Igor Shesterkin) the Rangers managed to win all those games.
Pittsburgh hasn’t played many ‘bad’ games since the team struggled back at the end of October, and over the last month, no team has allowed fewer goals per 60 minutes. Tristan Jarry has been lights out for over a month now, having not lost a game since November 5th. In fact, no goaltender has a higher save percentage (94.74) than Jarry does over the last month. Shesterkin has been good, but he hasn’t been that good, and the Penguins should drive the play in this game given that they’re a top-five team in expected goals and the Rangers aren’t even in the top-15.
The Rangers have been scoring goals at a higher rate than they were earlier in the season, but Pittsburgh is on par with them offensively and Jarry has had four days off to rest. This is the third game in four days for the Rangers.
Update: Tristan Jarry will start for the Penguins. Igor Shesterkin is expected to start for the Rangers.
Both Tampa Bay and Toronto have been hot for the better part of two months now, but Toronto has lost two games in a row for the first time since early November. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has won its last five games in a row by a combined score of 24-7. The Lightning have played some weak teams, though, and even though the Lightning picked up a win over the Maple Leafs earlier this month, Toronto was the better team through the lens of metrics like expected goals and shot attempts.
Tampa Bay and Toronto rank among the top-five in goals for and goals against over the last month, and the teams are basically mirror images of each other and they’re rested heading into this game. Toronto is still dealing with injuries to their defense corps, though, while the Lightning’s blue line is getting a big boost from a returning Mikhail Sergachev who has missed the last two games. Only one starting goaltender is confirmed (Matt Murray) but assuming Andrei Vasilevskiy will be in goal for the road team, my NHL betting model prices the home team at around -115.
Hurricanes’ star forward Sebastian Aho has been out since December 6th, but it looks like he could make his return to the lineup on Tuesday when the Devils come to town. That’s bad news for the Devils, who have lost five games in a row for the first time this season, because the Hurricanes managed to win all five games without Aho in the lineup.
Carolina also has a big edge in goal thanks to Pyotr Kochetkov, who has posted a 9-1-4 record and a .923 save percentage so far this season. Vitek Vanecek has been good for the Devils overall this season, but he’s been average for a while now and New Jersey’s elite status is in question. The Devils rank 11th in expected goals percentage over the last month and while that’s still good, it’s not great.
Carolina is the better team, and they should be the favorite here, but -120 seems right considering it’s their third game in four days and the Devils are coming into this game rested.
Update: Hurricanes' head coach Rod Brind' Amour said that he'd like to see Sebastian Aho in another practice before putting him in the lineup, so it doesn't sound like he will play tonight after all. Still, there is no value in betting the Devils at even money.
The Blue Jackets' injury list is a mile long (well, 11 players) and it would be an understatement to say that they will be shorthanded on Tuesday in Philadelphia. Needless to say, this isn't great news for a team that's lost 11 out of their last 15 games. Columbus ranks as the fourth-worst team on offense and defense over the last month and no team has allowed more shots per 60 minutes. Philadelphia is a bad hockey team, but they still grade out as a better team than the Blue Jackets do in just about every area and Carter Hart gives them a big edge in goal. It's weird to see the Flyers as a -170 favorite, but it's justified, as my NHL betting model prices the game at around -165 in favor of the home team.
Big news out of Winnipeg this morning as we learned starting goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was not on the ice at morning skate. As of right now, Hellebuyck has not been ruled out, but the team will likely clarify things for us a little later. The Jets are already without Blake Wheeler, Nikolaj Ehlers and Nate Schmidt, so losing the backbone of their team, even for just one game, is going to make it hard to secure two points.
The betting market reacted to the news, too, moving the Jets from -150 to -125, and now, the only way I’m going to end up betting on a side in this game is if the Jets turn around and confirm that Hellebuyck will play. Ottawa isn’t at full strength (Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris and Artem Zub are all out) and my NHL betting model sees the Jets as a -140 favorite if Hellebuyck is in goal. If Rittich ends up playing, there might be another move toward the Senators, but I still see the Jets as a small favorite regardless.
Update: David Rittich will in fact start in goal in place of Connor Hellebuyck.
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