Andrew Berkshire's picks for Wednesday's action include a win for Colorado and a goalscorer double in Dallas vs Calgary.
Thanks to the NHL scheduling things lightly on Halloween, we have a rare Wednesday version of our best picks and predictions. There are only four games to choose from, but still several great opportunities to take advantage of heading into the evening. Interestingly, of the eight teams in action tonight, only two made the playoffs last season, so there are some relatively even matchups to look at compared to usual. Let’s get into it.
Philadelphia Flyers to beat Buffalo Sabres & under 6.5 goals 4.10
Two teams that should be heading in different directions, it’s been the Flyers who have played well so far this season, with the Sabres’ vaunted offence from last year yet to be seen in 2023-24. On average, both teams are under 6.5 total goals per game so far this season, so the under seems pretty safe. If you don’t want to risk, you can separate the under bet from the outright winner bet.
However, it’s not a bad idea to bet on Philly to start this season. The goaltending hasn’t been there, but shockingly the team is first in the league in expected goal differential in all situations so far this season. Yes, the Flyers have an expected goals for rate of 57.4 per cent, with much of that coming from their exceptional defence, which is giving up the fewest chances per 60 minutes of any team this season. I wouldn’t have believed it either.
Calgary Flames to beat Dallas Stars & under 5.5 goals 4.30
Again, separating these bets for smaller payouts but less risk isn’t a bad idea, but the Flames are overdue for a win, and despite playing very high event hockey early in the season, I think this is the only way they can win this game. Dallas is the fourth-best defensive team in the league so far this season, and the Flames have scored goals at the fourth-lowest rate in the NHL so far.
Despite losing the Heritage Classic in a dominant game by the Oilers on Sunday, the Flames did show some signs of life, with their powerplay coming to life a little, and Jakob Markstrom was pretty great. The Stars are a much, much better team than the Flames so far, but good teams lose all the time in the NHL, and mediocre teams find ways to win. With the pressure of the Heritage Classic off their shoulders, I think the Flames can eke this one out.
Colorado Avalanche to beat St. Louis Blues 1.41
Anything can happen in the NHL, but don’t be tempted by the big payout from betting on St. Louis here. The Blues are fourth-last in the league in all situations expected goals share this season with a paltry 43.8 per cent, while the Avalanche are third-best at 56.2 per cent. That near 13 percentage point gap is a lot to cover, and it’s actually worse than that.
Expected goals are one thing, but teams vacillate above and below those numbers over the course of 82 games in actual goals, even if the trendline stays accurate. Right now, the Avalanche are outperforming even that lofty expected goals number, and the Blues are underperforming theirs. While the goaltending has been good, the scoring has been anemic, with only the Sharks scoring less.
Clayton Keller and Frank Vatrano to each score 1+ goals 6.00
Who would have called Frankie Vatrano opening the season with nine goals in nine games? Likely not even his biggest fan, but the man loves to shoot pucks and always has. With nearly 30 per cent of his shots going in right now, and his line with Ryan Strome and Mason MacTavish firing on all cylinders, you may as well ride the wave until it settles.
Keller on the other hand, is off to a great start coming off the best season of his career. He recently went pointless in an 8-1 win over the Blackhawks, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pushing the pace offensively in this one to erase that from his memory banks.