THE D IN BIG D
On Friday the Dallas Stars (3-2 SU, 1-4 O/U last five) continue their three-game homestand as they welcome the Vegas Golden Knights (2-3 SU, 2-3 O/U last five) who are on the backend of a traveling back-to-back. Dallas fired its head coach on Tuesday and responded with a 2-0 victory, albeit against the New Jersey Devils. Holding their opponents to two or fewer goals at home has been a trend that has persisted throughout the season for the Stars. Dallas’ opponents are scoring just 1.9 goals at the American Airlines Center Over 14 games as Dallas has the most points at home in the Western Conference.
Over the last three weeks, the Central Division-leading Stars are Top-five in the league in goals against, scoring chances against and save percentage. Their penalty kill has also been elite, allowing just three goals in its last 20 times shorthanded.
Dallas will most likely start Ben Bishop (2-3 SU, 0-5 O/U, 1.40 GAA last five) on Friday and let its backup Anton Khudobin play the second game of the back-to-back on Saturday, especially since it’s a travel game in the afternoon. We like the Stars to continue their defensive dominance at home and are playing the Knights team total Under 2.5 (-112).
THE FLAME REGRESSION
The Calgary Flames (5-0 SU, 4-1 O/U last five) were also one of a handful of NHL teams that sacked their head coach. Calgary has responded by ripping off six straight wins (three as plus-money dogs) and has taken 17 of a possible 18 points in its last nine games. They will entertain the Carolina Hurricanes (3-2 SU, 2-3 O/U last five) on Saturday in what is the second game of a four-game homestand for Calgary.
The Flames have found ways to win but still have let their opponents produce more unblocked shot attempts (measured as Fenwick) over their last eight games and have been “lucky” in regards to stopping high-danger shot chances. Calgary leads the league over the last three weeks in high-danger save percentage at 96 percent (unsustainable; league average is ~82% percent and Calgary sits at 83% on the season) while also scoring 20 percent of its scoring chances (league average is around 12-13%; Calgary sits at 13% on the season).
Add in the fact that Calgary has the 10th-worst penalty kill since November 24 at 78.5 percent and a serious regression may be coming for the West’s No. 6 team. There should be good value in a Carolina ML on Saturday night and we will also be looking at the Hurricanes' team total of 2.5 and hitting the Over.
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DEEP DIVE INTO LEAFS’ NUMBERS
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been relying on their goalie Freddy Andersen a lot since new coach Sheldon Keefe took over 10 games ago. Since November 29 the Leafs have been outshot and out-Fenwicked and sit in the Bottom-10 in shots, Corsi and Fenwick against. They are also allowing the fourth-most scoring chances against at nearly 25 a game.
Andersen is having to make nearly 11 high-danger (shots in close) saves a game but is holding his own with an 86% save percentage. During the Leafs’ current road trip, they have been outshot in two of three games while having a higher expected goals against than goals for but have outscored their opponents 11-8.
LOSERS CONVENTION IN MOTOR CITY
Well, the league’s worst losing streaks are finally over and coincidentally both teams that ended their slides on Thursday will meet in Detroit on Sunday night when the L.A. Kings visit the Red Wings. Both teams will be on the back-end of a back-to-back with L.A. traveling from Pittsburgh to Detroit overnight.
The Wings put out the fires of a 12-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets and also ended an 0-8 ATS run. The Wings’ power play went 2-for-4 with the man advantage and has been converting at nearly 30 percent through December which is the fifth-best rate in the league.
The Kings had lost 11 straight road games before Thursday’s 2-1 win in Anaheim. Over those 11 games, the Kings have scored more than two goals just once and saw the Under hit in seven of their last nine.
There is a good chance that both backup goalies play this one but even that doesn’t give us enough confidence in the Over. We do think that the Red Wings have the advantage in special teams, especially with L.A. allowing six power-play goals in its last 20 times shorthanded (most in the league). We are tailing the Red Wings team total Over 3.5 for plus money as it has hit in three of the Kings’ last five road games.
GOALIE PROFILE: PEKKA RINNE, NASHVILLE PREDATORS
The 2017-18 Vezina winner has fallen on tough times of late as Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has a 4.80 goals against over the last seven games and has just two wins. The Finnish keeper has allowed four or more goals in five of those seven games and has had to watch Nashville’s last two games from the bench due to his poor play.
The veteran goalie should respond after a couple of games to collect his thoughts and will take on a traveling Dallas Stars club Saturday that will be on the back-end of a back-to-back. Dallas has scored two goals or less in eight of its last 12 road games while the Predators have scored the second-fewest goals since November 7 and are scoring at under 10 percent on the power play.
We may get a 6 on the total with how badly Rinne has been playing, but are willing to take the Under even at 5.5 in what is a great bounceback spot for an experienced goalie going through a rough patch.
INJURY UPDATE: F TRAVIS KONECNY, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
The Flyers leading scorer is still out with a concussion and will likely miss Saturday’s game against the Wild in Minnesota. Philly could also be missing another key part of its offense with Oskar Lindblom questionable for the weekend tilt. Lindblom is tied with Konecny for the team-lead in goals and both are major pieces of the Flyers’ power play that went 0-for-2 Wednesday in the first game without both stars.
The Wild have held their opponents to two or fewer goals in four of their last five home games and dodge a bullet with absenses of Konecny and Lindblom as the Wild penalty kill has been near the bottom of the league since November. We are fading the Philadelphia offense and taking the Under on its team total of 2.5.
HAT TRICK TRENDS
• Friday will feature one of the more lopsided games of late as the New Jersey Devils travel to Colorado to take on the full-strength Avalanche. The Devils are currently +195 underdogs and are 4-5 SU at +135 odds or higher this season (1-3 SU at +175 or higher). The Avalanche are 4-3 SU when being favored by -135 or more this year.
• The Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers are the only two teams hitting first-period Overs at 80 percent in their last 10 games. Both play on Saturday with Canes facing the Flames (5-5 O/U 1P totals last 10) and the Oilers taking on the Leafs (9-7-1 O/U 1P away this year). The two-teamer would return backers close to a +200 payout.
• The Montreal Canadiens are 9-1 SU versus the Detroit Red Wings over their last ten matchups, including six victories of -1.5 or more. Since 2014, Detroit has come away with a victory in Montreal just three times (twice in OT) in a span of 13 games. Look to grab the Habs Puck Line (-1.5) on Saturday night.