We begin the first week of March with a seven-game slate full of solid matchups. Below, we’ll analyze two premiere showdowns between North and Central division rivals that will provide us with value.
YTD: 69-52 (+26.72)
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Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Carolina Hurricanes (-118) vs. Florida Panthers (+102)
Not much separates these two teams in the tightly packed Central Division, as Florida currently holds a two-point lead on Carolina coming into tonight. These two teams met Saturday, with the Hurricanes winning in a shootout after blowing two leads in the third period.
After a slow start to the season, Sergei Bobrovsky looks to be rounding into form for this Panthers team. At the other end of the ice, James Reimer has filled in admirably for the ‘Canes as starter, Petr Mrazek, remains out with a thumb injury.
Key season stats, 5v5:
- CF%: CAR (55.39) FLA (53.19)
- xGF%: CAR (54.25) FLA (53.41)
- GF/60: CAR (2.45) FLA (2.4)
- GA/60: CAR (1.95) FLA (2.05)
Analytically, these teams are as close as it gets. They’re about even offensively, but I give the ‘Canes an edge on the blue. What I’m looking at in this contest is goaltending. While it’s been a rough go throughout his tenure in South Florida, the aforementioned Bobrovsky seems to be reverting back to his former self, which would be a boon for the Panthers in this game. Conversely, the Cats have played well, coming off losses in zig-zag situations.
I’ll back the Panthers in this one.
Pick: Florida (+102) or better.
Toronto Maple Leafs (-107) vs. Edmonton Oilers (-109)
No Auston Matthews? No problem.
Saturday night, this Toronto team shut out Edmonton sans their best player. Not exactly the result many expected, as the Oilers entered having won 11 of their past 13 games. But hey, every good run comes to an end.
Throughout the offseason, there was much malcontent amongst the levelheaded Toronto fan base after the signing of Joe Thornton. The same man who is averaging a point per game at the ripe age of 41 years old. But I mean, Leafs fans never overreact, right?
A shutout looks nice on paper, but let’s dig into the metrics of this game, 5v5:
- CF%: TOR (39.58) EDM (60.42)
- HDCF: TOR (6) EDM (14)
- xGF: TOR (2.12) EDM (2.77)
- xGF%: TOR (43.33) EDM (56.67)
The metrics tell us the Oilers deserved better and can anticipate positive regression, especially with the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl leading the offense. The key for this team will be staying out of the box, as the Toronto power play has executed at a 32.4% clip this season.
It’s a daunting task keeping this Edmonton team off the scoresheet, and I don’t foresee them getting shut out again. As of this writing, we don’t know Matthews’ status, but on Sunday, he was an extra in practice.
If the Oilers can keep the ghost of Jason Spezza in check, I’ll look to back them in this spot.
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