Friday’s fifteen game NHL slate, from a betting perspective

Before I get started, I just want to say, welcome back Corsica Hockey. Crisis averted. There are a lot of great hockey websites out there that offer modern statistics. Natural Stat Trick, Evolving-Hockey and several others, but the familiarity that I have with Corsica is something that I value and I’m thankful that it’s still here.

I’d also like to personally welcome back Ken Hitchcock, and thank him, for confirming that Mikko Koskinen will start in Anaheim on Friday. He must not have gotten the memo that every other coach received. As I discussed in my last post, we’ve got fifteen games on Friday, and eleven games on Saturday. Of the twenty-two teams that play on Saturday, twenty-one will have played the night before and there’s still a lot of coaching decisions to be made, specifically pertaining to goaltenders.

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My return to the sports betting blogosphere wasn’t as triumphant as I had hoped it would be, but it wasn’t an awful night by any means. I hope that this blog isn’t judged by wins and losses, because that’s really not what the blog itself is about. I’m not going to justify every play with a detailed write up. Everything is price dependent. I can rattle off two dozen reasons why I like a particular bet, but at the end of the day, if the price was different, I’d be playing the other side or nothing at all. With that being said, I do want to talk hockey and gambling.

The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers kick off a fifteen game slate on Friday afternoon. The Flyers have been relying on their third and fourth string goaltenders, with both Brian Elliot and Michal Neuvirth on the shelf, and it hasn’t been working out for them, as Alex Lyon and Calvin Picard have allowed eleven goals combined in two starts thus far. It also seems to be a given that the Flyers will give up at least one goal while shorthanded at some point in just about every game. Philadelphia has the second worst penalty kill percentage in the league, and rank 31st in xGA60 while shorthanded according to Corsica Hockey. The Rangers have a respectable power play.

The Flyers power play has been brutal as well, at least on the surface, but really that should turn around. If we take xGF60 on the power play at face value, the Flyers should be converting at the 5th highest rate in the NHL on the man advantage. In actuality, however, the Flyers are converting at the 4th lowest rate while on the power play. The Flyers have been playing some pretty decent hockey as of late, but iffy goaltending and a very leaky penalty kill are cause for concern.

The Rangers, baby. I wish I could sit here and tell you that I thought this team would be as fun to watch — or as profitable — as they have been, but I’d be lying. Do I think this team is a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference? Of course not, and they’ll probably be sellers at the trade deadline, but for now, this Rangers team is a pleasant surprise. The Rangers have managed to own the majority of the expected goal share at 5-on-5 according to Corsica Hockey, but they’ve done so while posting a 5-on-5 CF% that ranks the team 28th overall. The Rangers are also burning the candle at both ends, generating and allowing high danger shot attempts at just about the highest rates in the league, and although the Flyers don’t necessarily create a ton of high quality looks, they do cash in on them frequently and seem to do a good job at limiting those chances in their own end, so we’ll see how it all plays out.

The Flyers are going to put an end to their losing streak — which currently sits at four games — and they’ll likely defeat the Rangers on Friday afternoon, but at -152, I won’t be betting on them to do so. My expected line for this game is -140 in favour of the home team.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie missed practice again, and will likely miss the next three games. The Washington Capitals have gone 3 – 0 in their absence so they probably don’t feel pressure get them back in the lineup. TheCapitals are set to play three games in three days, starting with Friday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings in Washington. The Capitals head to New York to take on the Rangers on Saturday and they’ll visit the Islanders on Monday.

Braden Holtby was in the starters crease at practice on Thursday, so it looks like he’ll face the Red Wings. This means that backup Pheonix Copley will likely see the Rangers on Saturday. If that’s the case, it’s a strange move, in my opinion. Sure, I get that the Red Wings are 8-2-0 in their last 10, but they’ve been playing some truly awful hockey and are undeserving of that record.

The Capitals and Red Wings are the two worst teams in the league in terms of limiting high dangers shot attempts, ranking 31st and 30th in HDCA60 at 5-on-5 via Natural Stat Trick, so things could get messy, although this game doesn’t exactly jump out as one that will be played at a high pace. Bovada is the only online shop that’s offering a price on this game at the moment, which is kind of funny because there really aren’t any unknowns. In all likelihood it has everything to do with the fact that the status of two key Capitals is still up in the air.

The New Jersey Devils host the New York Islanders, and the stage is set for a rematch, as these two teams met in Brooklyn earlier in the month when the Devils were in the midst of a disastrous road trip. For my sake, I’m hoping that the Devils continue to outplay opponents at home like they have. As of late, they’ve been resembling the team that started the season off firing on all cylinders. The Islanders, on the other hand, just don’t look like the team that is capable of sustaining any level of quality play for more than a game or two at a time before stringing together several embarrassing performances. Barry Trotz is good, folks, but he ain’t this good. My expected line for  the home team in this game is -168. New Jersey Devils -157 at Pinnacle. Risk $0.98 to win $0.60.

In the next matchup, I’m really hoping that we see ‘Big Save’ Dave Rittich in goal for the  Calgary Flames when they visit the Golden Knights in Las Vegas. The Flames have been a good team for the entire season, but unsurprisingly, they weren’t getting adequate goaltending from their starting netminder, Mike Smith. At this point, the Flames are probably playing their best hockey of the season, and Sam Bennett is apparently good to go, after taking a shot to the forearm in Wednesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, so really, it’s just a matter of whether or not you’re comfortable rolling the dice and hoping that Smith occupies a seat on the bench.

Me, I have no problem doing that. The Flames are one of the few teams that don’t play on Saturday — they’ve got the weekend off before playing the Coyotes in Arizona on Monday — and it seems logical that the Flames would start the goaltender that’s been performing at a high level for them against a division rival that, despite their struggles, still have a lot of talent at their disposal.

The Vegas Golden Knights, even with that talent, have started to slide, at least during 5-on-5 play. Since about the time the calendar flipped over to November, the Golden Knights have been mediocre and their 5-on-5 shot metrics have been trending in the wrong direction. It sounds like Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start on Friday against the Flames, which could possibly turn into back-to-back starts, if he performs well, when the Golden Knights play their fifth game in seven days against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday in Las Vegas. Calgary Flames +117 at Pinnacle. Risk $0.70 to win $0.81.

I will — once again — raise the question of whether or not John Tortorella will go with Sergei Bobrovsky on Friday, or save him for the game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Columbus Blue Jackets have a morning skate at 10:30 a.m. so we’ll find out more then, but for now, I think it’s better to be on the safe side and assume that backup Joonas Korpisalo will be starting against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night. There just isn’t enough upside to justify wagering on the Blue Jackets with so much uncertainty surrounding who they will go with in goal. Tortorella can cause headaches, I try to avoid them if possible.

Update : Bobrovsky is in the starters crease at practice, so I will be adding the Columbus Blue Jackets -116 at Pinnacle. Risk $0.78 to win $0.67.

I did have a play on the Carolina Hurricanes, but that’s out of range for the time being, however, as I was finishing up here, the Pittsburgh Penguins were hit with some overnight action and the line moved in their direction. My expected line for this game is -121 in favour of the Boston Bruins which means that I now have a significant edge on the Boston Bruins -106 at Pinnacle. Risk $1.70 to win $1.60. I’d like to see Jaroslav Halak get the start for the Bruins, but I’m comfortable with the current price despite the unanswered question. It’s likely that Casey DeSmith gets the nod for the Penguins, now that Matt Murray is out with a ‘longer-term’ injury, so now I’ll just sit back and hope that betting against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins turns out better this time than it did last.

Here are the prices that my model generated for Friday, November 23rd. The picks that I’ve highlighted green are teams that I’ve actually wagered on. As will always be the case, depending on which way the markets move, more plays could be added to my card, but that remains to be seen. The risk amounts are determined using a fractional version of the Kelly Criterion staking system.

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