Struggling Snipers: Examining scoring slumps in the NHL, plus best NHL bets today

March 6, 2023 08:41 AM

Struggling Snipers: Examining scoring slumps in the NHL, plus best NHL bets today

Even the most talented players can fall into a scoring slump, struggling to find the back of the net for extended periods. In this article, we will explore the reasons why some of the NHL's top snipers have been struggling to score and examine their current form. Additionally, we will be looking at some of the best bets for Monday's NHL games.

·      Joe Pavelski (Dallas Stars)

At 38 years old, you might think age is finally catching up to Joe Pavelski, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Pavelski’s career is winding down, but Little Joe has had some hard luck this season. The goal he scored on March 4th was the first of its kind since Jan. 16th, a stretch of 18 games without a goal.

Pavelski has scored on 10.4 percent of his shots this season, which is only a couple of percentage points below his career average, but the veteran winger’s shooting percentage is 3.47 since the beginning of the February with just one goal on his last 28 shots.

The veteran forward has scored approximately four goals fewer than expected during that stretch according to Evolving Hockey.

·      Nikolaj Ehlers (Winnipeg Jets)

Nikolaj Ehlers didn’t play between October 17th and Jan. 6th, but upon returning from injury the 27-year-old put up four goals and 14 points in his first nine games. Things have taken a turn over the last month-plus of hockey, as Ehlers has collected just one goal and four assists in his last 15 games.

His 3.7 expected goals during that stretch are fourth most among Jets’ forwards, but he’s scored just one goal which works out to a 2.44 shooting percentage. Ehlers career shooting percentage is 11.8, but he’s sitting at just 6.3 percent on the season.

Head coach Rick Bowness continuously blends his lines, too, which might be a big reason why Ehlers hasn’t been able to get into a rhythm.

Nazem Kadri (Calgary Flames)

Nazem Kadri is one of just two Calgary Flames to hit the 20-goal mark this season and he ranks third on the team in points. However, the Flames’ All-Star has only scored two goals in his last 15 games.

It’s not for a lack of trying, though, as only two players generated more shots or expected goals per 60 minutes than Kadri during that stretch. He’s scored on just 3.92 percent of his 51 shots and, according to Evolving Hockey, he should’ve scored more than twice as many goals.

Kadri career shooting percentage is 11.1 and he’s scored on 9.9 percent of his shots this season. He is currently skating on a line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Jakob Pelletier as well as the first power play unit.

Zach Hyman (Edmonton Oilers)

Hyman scored 25 goals in his first 49 games this season, but after missing the start of February due to injury, the winger has scored on just 6.7 percent of his shots. Hyman has four goals in his last 14 games despite ranking second, behind only Connor McDavid, in shots and expected goals.

According to Evolving Hockey, Hyman has generated 7.24 expected goals since Feb. 7th which means he should have been scoring a goal every other game, the way he did at the start of the season.

Connor McDavid (11 goals in last 14 games) and Leon Draisaitl (12 goals in last 14 games) have been doing all the goal scoring since the start of February, but Hyman’s career shooting percentage is 12.3 and he should turn things around rather quickly.

Today’s Best NHL Bet

Here is today’s best NHL bet. Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

·      Edmonton Oilers (Puck Line, -1.5) +160

When the Edmonton Oilers win, they usually cover the puck line as well. In fact, the Oilers have won 21 games since Dec. 1st, and they have covered the puck line (-1.5 goals) in 19 of those games and my model estimates that there is a better than 60 percent chance they pick up a win over the Sabres.

Buffalo is coming off a big win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the latter has been playing poorly as of late and Edmonton has been at the top of their game. The Sabres earned a win over the Oilers earlier this season, and have a winning record against Western Conference teams, but the Oilers are the cream of the crop and the Sabres haven't had a lot of success against elite teams.

Both teams rank among the top-five on offense and bottom-10 on defense over the last month, but the Oilers are the top scoring team in the league and the Sabres are allowing more goals than anybody else.

Some shops have the puck line priced as low as +130, with the consensus being +150, so the +160 that’s available at DraftKings currently is appealing to say the least.

Bet: Edmonton Oilers (Puck Line, -1.5) +160

Record: 63-74, -17.92, -11.6 percent

Additional Resources:

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