The NHL season marches on with a nine-game slate on Thursday night. It's still early in the season, but we're beginning to get a clearer picture of which teams are for real and which teams might struggle. Which games offer potential value for bettors at BetMGM?
Washington might be a tad undervalued
The Washington Capitals enter Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers with a 5-1-3 record. The NHL operates with a points system, but for all intents and purposes, bettors have only won with the Capitals five times in nine games. However, three of those losses have come in overtime which is often random and arbitrary, and not a true indication of a team's ability.
When looking under the hood, you'd see the Capitals are currently top-5 in the league in terms of expected goal rate. They are also top-10 in terms of shot attempt share. They rank third in the league in PDO, which might suggest a good run of luck to some, but I wouldn't be too worried as we know the Capitals have the elite talent level to shoot at a high percentage.
I've been all aboard the Panthers this season and they've rewarded me with an 8-0-1 start. However, despite their impressive accumulation of wins, they haven't been much more than an average team in terms of the underlying metrics. Florida certainly won't win 8 of every 9 games this season.
It might feel scary going against a team as good as the Panthers, but I like the Capitals as a +120 underdog on Thursday night. They're due for some better results.
Rest of the slate
Detroit @ Boston: The Bruins are substantial -275 favorites in this game, and that's a number I'm not willing to lay in this sport, ever. Detroit's been feisty to begin the season, playing to a 4-4-2 record. It's underdog or pass for me here.
NY Islanders @ Montreal: The Islanders are playing just their second game over the past two weeks as they've had a prolonged break in the schedule. Normally, I'd be willing to lay -135 with the Isles in this spot, but rust is an obvious concern.
Vegas @ Ottawa: The Senators are +100 at home against Vegas on Thursday night. If before the season you saw this line, you'd be pounding the Golden Knights. However, Vegas is dealing with a tremendous amount of injuries and they're probably only favorites due to their name reputation.
Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh: The Penguins are -120 favorites in this in-state rivalry game, but they've been banged up as well with Sidney Crosby now testing positive for COVID-19. Philadelphia has been solid to open the season and I don't mind them as an underdog here.
Tampa Bay @ Toronto: The back-to-back defending champions are +110 underdogs in Toronto in a battle between two teams who have started to get hot after opening the year by underachieving tremendously. Both teams are elite when at the top of their games, so I don't mind the plus-money price on the champs.
Dallas @ Calgary: The Flames have had a very strong start to the season, and Calgary is a -155 favorite at home against the Stars. I'm not willing to lay this kind of juice with the Flames as Dallas is known to muddy games up. I'm also not rushing to bet the Stars either, as they've won just 3 of their first 9 games.
Buffalo @ Seattle: The Kraken are -200 favorites at home over the Sabres, but I'm just not laying that price with an expansion team who's been inconsistent to begin the year. Once again, it's underdog or pass for me here.
St. Louis @ San Jose: The Blues have opened the year with a 6-1-1 record, but they are just -120 favorites on the road against the Sharks. San Jose has performed well themselves, but I trust the Blues more, especially in net. I'll take the Blues as a road favorite.