This article is part of our Handicapping the NHL series.
RotoWire's AJ Scholz takes a deep dive into his favorite bets ahead of Thursday's 10-game slate, including a look at the Moneyline, Puckline, total and player props with odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Picking the Favorite: The best value on the favorite in Thursday's slate is the Bruins to win over the Predators at -120 and that's exactly where I'll land. The Bruins are without the suspended Brad Marchand but that's certainly nothing new for this team. Additionally, Boston has the luxury of being able to insert Taylor Hall into that spot on the top line without any sort of drop-off. The Preds have been good this year, currently sitting third in the Central Division, but have a suspect penalty kill that's ninth worth in the NHL at 78.6 percent and could spell disaster versus the Bruins fifth-ranked power play (25.9 percent).
Finding an Underdog: There is no shortage of options looking at these 10 games. You could go the heavy longshots and take Buffalo or Ottawa at +235 each or take the slight underdogs in Nashville (+100) or San Jose (+105) in games that could easily see the line move to favor them. Normally, I try to land somewhere in the middle but for this one, I actually will take the Sharks at just over even money. San Jose has won four of its last five games by a combined score of 16-10 thanks to a resurgent James Reimer, though it will actually be backup Adin Hill guarding the crease Thursday as the team heads into a back-to-back. Still, the Islanders can't seem to score goals on anybody this season, so it figures to be a good spot to jump on San Jose.
Covering the Puckline
Favorite Team to Cover: Rarely will you find a Puckline that requires you to still give up juice for a team to cover, but that appears twice on Thursday, as the Hurricanes and Panthers are both -120 on the Puckline against the Senators and Sabres, respectively. Even with the fact that you are giving up less than even money on these two teams, they are just so overmatched that I think you have to do it. If you can only take one of these clubs to cover, then I would favor Carolina ever so slightly considering Ottawa is on a six-game losing streak and just sent their $25 million netminder (Matt Murray) down to the minors.
Best of the Rest: Outside of rolling with Florida, I think you absolutely have to be looking at Colorado here at solid +145 value to cover. All the reasons to bet against them are there – they are coming into the second of a back-to-back, they got drilled by Toronto on Wednesday and the goaltending situation is up in the air after an injury to Darcy Kuemper – but this remains the best offense in the league (averaging 3.95 goals per game) and have a healthy Nathan MacKinnon back after he picked up two assists versus the Leafs.
Betting the Total
Taking the Over: In Colorado v. Montreal, we've got the league's most potent offense squaring off with the second-worst defense, as the Habs are conceding 3.54 goals per game and are no closer to getting Carey Price back between the pipes. The total currently sits at 6 which comes in at -120 but I would recommend giving up that extra half a goal in order to return some value in what could be an absolute blowout by the Avalanche.
Spotting the Under: On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Islanders are scoring a dismal 1.88 goals per game while the Sharks aren't faring significantly better at 2.73 which is good for the 10th fewest in the NHL. Add to the fact that New York is coming off an extended shutdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak that saw two of its games postponed and there just doesn't project to be a very offensively heavy contest. You'll get this game at under 5.5 for a decent -125 return.
Favorite Player Props
Anytime Goal Scorer: It might surprise you to discover that Nathan MacKinnon has just one goal this season, though he has been limited to just nine appearances due to injury. The matchup with the Habs feels like the perfect opportunity for the world-class center to put one into the back of the net and will return solid +125 value. If you aren't solid on MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen is actually the favorite to score at +115 and leads the Avs with 10 tallies in 19 games.
Another Goal Scorer: On the other end of the surprising spectrum is Calgary's Andrew Mangiapane who is currently fourth in the NHL with 15 goals which puts him behind only Leon Draisaitl, Alex Ovechkin and Chris Kreider. Expected netminder Jonathan Quick has given up 12 goals in his last three outings, so getting Manigpane at +160 is a great spot to be in.