NHL Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, December 21st

December 21, 2022 09:59 AM
Backup goaltender Brian Elliott is 7-1 this season and the Tampa Bay Lightning always seem to bounce back after a loss.

Welcome to VSiN’s NHL Best Bets page. Your source for comprehensive and dynamic hockey betting analysis. Read on for odds, predictions and best bets for December 21st. Follow me on Twitter to stay up to date.

NHL Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, December 21st

Recap: Tuesday’s best bet on the Pittsburgh cashed as the Penguins overcame an early Rangers’ lead to win the game 3-2.

Wednesday’s Best Bets: There are currently no best bets. Game lines are tight today.

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: 45 Losses: 48 Units Won: -4.77 units ROI: -10 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.

New Jersey Devils (+115) at Florida Panthers (-135)

New Jersey and Florida met last week, and the Panthers were victorious. However, they lost captain Aleksander Barkov to an injury in the second period, and he hasn’t played since. Fortunately, Barkov avoided serious injury and is currently regarded as day-to-day. The 27-year-old star missed six straight games in November and December due to illness, which has also hurt the team in other ways (Spencer Knight, Matthew Tkachuk and Anton Lundell have all missed time), and it isn’t clear if Barkov will be available on Wednesday when the Panthers host the Devils in a rematch.

New Jersey played on Tuesday and lost their sixth game in a row, and if they don’t win today, they might not win again until 2023. The Devils are in danger of falling out of a playoff spot, if you ask me. The team has a tough schedule coming up and it doesn’t let up until February. There’s not much separating the Devils and the teams that are chasing them and if they don’t right the ship immediately, things could get dicey.

As far as today goes, my NHL betting model sees the Panthers as a -117 favorite if Barkov remains out of the lineup, but even if he does play, I won’t be interested in backing the home team.

Note: MacKenzie Blackwood is expected to start for the Devils. He allowed one goal on seven shots after coming in to relieve Vitek Vanecek. Blackwood hadn’t played in the NHL since November 3rd and he’s struggled this season, posting a .879 save percentage. Florida’s starting goaltender is unknown currently.

Update: Barkov will not play.

Tampa Bay Lightning (-165) at Detroit Red Wings (+145)

Betting against backup goaltenders that typically do not play well, like David Rittich of the Winnipeg Jets who is now 5-3, has not been a profitable strategy. But no backup goaltender has torched as much closing line value as Brian Elliott of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 37-year-old has gone 7-1 this season and has likely made bettors rethink whether betting against him is a good idea or not.

The Lightning played poorly against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, and got the result they deserved, a 4-1 loss. They didn’t help their starting goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, but recent history suggests they’ll come out firing against the Red Wings. The Lightning always seems to bounce back after a loss, and that’s why they’re a -165 favorite even though Elliott will likely be in goal.

Detroit beat Tampa Bay earlier this month, but the latter has won 9 of their last 12 games so it was likely just an off day for them. This likely won’t be an easy win, though, and my NHL betting model prices the road team at around -150 with Elliott between the pipes.

Note: Ville Husso will start in goal for the Red Wings.

Edmonton Oilers (+125) at Dallas Stars (-145)

Edmonton has converted on nearly 33 percent of their power play opportunities, and as a result, their power play is the best in the league right now. However, one of things being talked about in the hockey world right now is that while playing five-on-five, the Oilers have been outscored 26-25 when McDavid is on the ice. In other words, special teams are the main reason that this team is still in the playoff race.

That might not be enough to beat Dallas, though, as the Stars rank among the top-five on the penalty kill and their power play is among top-10 in the league. Dallas isn’t a great five-on-five team, either, and they’re a mediocre team in many ways, but they continue to receive great goaltending from Jake Oettinger. My model sees the Stars as a -150 favorite if the starting goaltenders are Oettinger and Stuart Skinner.

Nashville Predators (-185) at Chicago Blackhawks (+165)

Petr Mrazek has been awful since arriving in Chicago and he’s scheduled to start on Wednesday against the Predators. It’s unclear who Nashville will start in goal, though. The Predators have just two games before the league breaks for the holidays, and backup Kevin Lankinen hasn’t played since December 13th. If I was head coach John Hynes, I’d consider splitting the two games between Lankinen and starting goalie Juuse Saros so that both goaltenders stay in game shape heading into 2023.

The Predators need wins, though, so maybe they try to secure two points on Wednesday and worry about the rest after the fact. My NHL betting model sees the Predators as a -205 favorite if Saros is in goal, but I’m not interested in betting on them at big odds unless there is a confirmation, and even then, we’re talking about a team that ranks among the bottom-three on offense (one spot above the Blackhawks) over the last month. Chicago is the worst defensive team in the league, though, and that’s why Nashville we’ll likely get the job done regardless of who starts in goal.

Minnesota Wild (-280) at Anaheim Ducks (+240)

With backup goaltender Anthony Stolarz out, and starting goaltender John Gibson regarded as day-to-day, there's a chance that Lukas Dostal could make his second start in as many days. The 22-year-old made 37 saves in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings and unless one of the injured makes an unexpected recovery, reports suggest he is option to start in back-to-back games.

Dostal does have pedigree, having been drafted 85th overall, but this is tough spot for any goaltender much less one with seven starts at the NHL level. Anaheim is the worst offensive team in the league right now, too, so they likely won't provide him with much support even if he does manage to play well. Minnesota has really turned it around as of late, winning 11 of their last 14 games.

Only four teams have scored goals at a higher rate than the Wild have over the past month, and they've worked their way up to being a top-10 team on defense after not being able to keep pucks out of their net earlier this season. Minnesota has started to show that they can dominate weaker teams as of late, too, covering the puck line in four out of their last five wins.

If Dostal starts on Wednesday, my NHL betting model suggests that the Wild should be priced somewhere between -300 and -315 depending on who starts in goal. Filip Gustavsson has been better than Marc-Andre Fleury this season and the Wild are scheduled to play the Sharks on Thursday in San Jose.

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