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: I don't like to give up a lot of juice when looking at the Moneyline, so you won't find me taking Edmonton or Winnipeg, who are both -180 versus Arizona and Anaheim, respectively, as the risk is just not worth the limited value. Instead, I'll target a team like the Hurricanes, who are -120 to secure a win over the winless Canadiens. In three appearances this season, the Hab's Jake Allen is sporting a career-worst 3.05 GAA and dismal .885 save percentage. Meanwhile, Carolina is scoring 4.50 goals per game (fourth highest in the NHL) powered by Andrei Svechnikov. Don't be surprised to see this line move further in the Canes' favor as we get closer to puck drop.
Finding an Underdog: You won't find Colorado sitting as an underdog too often this season, which is evident by the fact that you are still just getting even money at +100 on the Moneyline against the Panthers. Having said that, the Avs will get Gabriel Landeskog back from suspension and will be able to deploy their star-studded top line together for the first time this season. They'll face the resurgent Sergei Bobrovsky, who is undefeated to start the year but should be capable of powering Colorado to a win.
Covering the Puckline
Favorite Team to Cover: While it makes sense to avoid the Oilers on the Moneyline at -180, it's also a perfect spot to pick them to cover the Puckline for +130 value. Four of the last five Art Ross Trophy awards for most points in the NHL have gone to Connor McDavid (three) and Leon Draisaitl (one). Even when the team gets subpar goaltending, as they did Tuesday's against the Ducks, it can simply rely on the duo to rack up the goals to secure the win. The Oilers have two one-goal victories to start the year, which could be a slight concern, but it's still early in the season.
Best of the Rest: Sometimes it makes sense to double-down on both the Moneyline and Puckline when the value is there and with the Hurricanes getting +190 to cover against the Canadiens, that's certainly the case Thursday. In addition to the netminding problems highlighted above, Montreal has scored the fewest goals of any team in the NHL so far this season with just three and that's despite having played in four games. For its part, Carolina is peppering opposing goaltenders with pucks to the tune of 36.5 shots per game with no sign of letting up versus Jake Allen.
Betting the Total
Taking the Over: I try to avoid going back to the well over and over again here but there is no avoiding the Carolina v. Montreal game in Thursday's slate. The total here is set at 5.5 which is about as low as you'll see during the season with the exception of a rare 5. The over comes in at -120, so you don't have to give up a lot of juice, though you may need the Hurricanes to hit this mark on their own given Montreal's aforementioned offensive struggles.
Spotting the Under: As mentioned, the lowest total on the board most nights is going to be 5.5, so looking at an under in one of these games may not seem like the best bet, but when it's the Islanders v. Blue Jackets for -110, it's a spot I like to target. The Isles have their offensive pieces like Oliver Wahlstrom who has three goals in as many games, but Barry Trotz's teams are built defensive first with solid netminding. Don't be scared off by the fact they've conceded 12 goals in three games this year, this is still the team that allowed just 2.23 goals per game last year and they will turn it around.
Favorite Player Props
Anytime Goal Scorer: It's certainly hard to pass up on Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid in a clash with Arizona but both guys are coming in at just +100 which isn't a lot of value. Instead, I would consider looking at Detroit's Tyler Bertuzzi who has five goals in three games to start the year and will return +195 value. While it's only a two-game sample size, the Flames are allowing four goals per game to start the year.
To Win with a Shutout: This isn't a bet that I would target often and is admittedly not really a player prop but the odds are generally pretty high. For example, the best odds to pull off a shutout comes with the Jets (expected starter Connor Hellebuyck) at +750. Still, I've mentioned how bad the Canadiens offense has been this season, as they are averaging 0.75 goals per game through four games. The Hurricanes (expected starter Frederik Andersen) to win in a shutout comes in at +1100 and would see like really strong value against a team with little offense to show for it.