This article is part of our NHL Picks 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: While I really like both the Penguins and the Lightning in their matchups with the Kraken and Devils, respectively, paying over -300 in juice to get them simply doesn't make sense on the Moneyline. It's too much risk for too little reward. Instead, I would look to a team like the Ducks at -150 on the Moneyline to best the lowly Habs. The Ducks are coming into this game on the second of a back-to-back after losing in a shootout to Toronto on Wednesday. Having said that, this game has less to do with Anaheim and is more about the struggling Canadiens. In January alone, Montreal is allowing 4.50 goals per game and remain without Carey Price (knee) or Jake Allen (lower body).
Finding an Underdog: I'll be perfectly blunt in not totally understanding why the Flames are +110 underdogs versus the Blues on the DK Sportsbook. Calgary did play Wednesday night but dismantled the Blue Jackets 6-0 in that contest with little to no resistance. Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau combined for two goals and three assists in that contest while Jacob Markstrom recorded his sixth shutout of the year. The Blues, for their part, are 7-3-0 in their last 10 contests and 16-4-2 at home this season, so perhaps there is some logic to them being favored but for me, the Flames are playing too well of late so I'll take them at +110.
Covering the Puckline
Favorite Team to Cover: As mentioned above, Columbus got shelled last night and there is no reason to think they won't get blown out again Thursday. To that end, the Rangers at +120 to cover the -1.5 goal Puckline is my preferred option among the favorites. This bet is contingent on Igor Shesterkin getting the starting nod for New York, as he is riding a seven-game winning streak during which he posted a fantastic 1.82 GAA. If the Rangers opt to utilize Alexandar Georgiev instead, I'm significantly less confident in the Rangers' ability to cover the spread.
Best of the Rest: Even giving up a goal and a half, you aren't getting great value out of either Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay at -125 and -130 respectively. In order to get some better value, I'd be willing to give up another goal and take the Penguins -2.5 at +125 and the Lightning -2.5 at +120. It's obviously a bigger risk to expect a three-goal victory but in both cases, you have strong offenses backed by top-end netminding in Tristan Jarry and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Betting the Total
Taking the Over: At 6.5 the total in the Vegas v. Florida matchup is the highest on the board but both squads are among the top-10 in goals per game this season with the Panthers sitting second best (4.02 per game) behind only Colorado, making the over at -130 a good spot. Led by Jonathan Huberdeau, who is tied for second in the league in points this season with 58, the Florida offense should be able to get to four on its own. In fact, don't be surprised to see this one end up 4-3 in overtime, which you can consistently get on the DK Sportsbook at +1100.
Spotting the Under: While I fully expect a blowout in the Lightning vs. Devils game, the 6.5 total seems a little high when you consider the Bolts might have to get there themselves. To be fair, Andrei Vasilevskiy is coming off back-to-back games in which he conceded four goals but will enter this contest having had nearly a week off. Meanwhile, New Jersey has 11 goals in its last four games but seven of those tallies came in one contest, so take the under here at -120.
Favorite Player Props
Anytime Goal Scorer: Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers is currently riding a six-game goal streak during which he has bent the twine nine times. Snagging him at the anytime goalscorer at +110 against Columbus practically seems like free money. It might be worth taking a shot to get him as first or last scorer in this game, as both come in at tremendous +800 value while not being out of the question or just go big and bet all three options to really maximize your value.
Power-Play Point: In three of his last four contests, Pittsburgh's Bryan Rust has snagged a point with the man advantage. In the month of January, the Penguins have a top-10 power play that is converting at 27.0 percent while the Kraken's penalty kill is middling at best at 77.1. All that to say, the Pens are primed to have a good showing with the man advantage and Rust has been contributing heavily in that role over the last four contests. He'll bring him solid +135 value to pick up a power-play point.