NHL picks: 4 best bets for Thursday
Andrew Berkshire picks out his four best bets for Thursday, including two anytime goalscorer props.
With two points in his first five games of the season after missing a bunch of time with an abdominal injury, Mike Matheson is off to a decent offensive start in Montreal, but what if I told you there’s a lot more to look forward to? Most of the Canadiens’ scoring comes from their top line, and Matheson will continue to get time there. Impressively, he leads the Canadiens in virtually every category in terms of possession since he got back into the lineup, but he’s also been the unluckiest player in the NHL at 5-vs-5.
In hockey there’s a metric called PDO that combines the shooting percentage and save percentage a player’s team has while they’re on the ice, and when put together those numbers are usually very close to 100. Matheson is at a league-worst 85.2, including a 4 per cent on-ice shooting percentage. When that normalizes, he’s going to put up a lot of points, so think about him as a long shot bet going forward.
Colorado Avalanche to beat Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres are at home, but they’re on the second-half of a back-to-back against the defending Stanley Cup champions. This will not be a bet that pays out very well, but it’s as strong of a lock as there can be in hockey, an inherently random sport.
The Avalanche have won eight of their last 11 games heading into this one, and the Sabres are still recovering from having lost eight straight.
Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh Penguins) to score anytime vs Vegas Golden Knights
With Kris Letang out of the lineup after suffering a stroke, the second of his NHL career, the Penguins will be looking inward for their players to find something special and step up. Bryan Rust has been the prototypical underrated guy on the Penguins for years now, but hasn’t had anywhere close to the level of production this year that we’ve seen from him the last three seasons.
Luckily for Pittsburgh, that isn’t due to a drop in his level of play. In fact, so far this season Rust’s play has produced just under 10 expected goals based on the shots that have come off his stick, and he’s put home only half that. Eventually that hard work will pay off, even if it seems impossible after just one goal in his last 13 games.
Sam Bennett (Florida Panthers) to score anytime vs Vancouver Canucks
Similar to Bryan Rust, Sam Bennett has had a lot of success in Florida, but hasn’t discovered his scoring touch yet this season. Despite that, he’s also produced shots that give him just under 10 expected goals this season, while netting just five actual goals.
Against a team like the Canucks who play relatively messy, Bennett should find no shortage of opportunities to put that disc in the netting.
Over 6.5 goals in Montreal Canadiens vs Calgary Flames
The Canadiens have had trouble scoring goals of late, netting three or fewer in all of their four most recent games for just seven goals total over that time. However, three quarters of their lineup are remarkably overdue for a scoring outburst based on the chances they get, from Brendan Gallagher to Evgeni Dadonov.
The Flames, on the other hand, just brought themselves out of a scoring drought of their own, and seem pretty adept at giving up goals no matter which goalie is in net. This one has the feeling of a 5-4 overtime game.