Wednesday Night Hockey – Betting Odds and Predictions

by Aaron Brooks
on December 14, 2016

Just four games on tap in the NHL tonight after a crazy Tuesday that saw some underdog wins, a 14 goal game and the Toronto Maple Leafs blowing another three-goal lead. Hopefully you managed to place your hard earned cash on enough good games to make up for all the upsets. If you didn’t, theres no worries. There’s four more games tonight!

Feature Game

Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Boston (+144) at Pittsburgh (-159)

Spread

  • Boston (+1.5) at Pittsburgh (-1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5

When you see the names Boston and Pittsburgh you immediately think fast-paced, high-scoring, hard-hitting hockey. Both teams have developed somewhat of a rivalry over the last decade, but now one team clearly stands above the rest.

The Penguins are fresh off Sidney Crosby’s second Stanley Cup last season an picking up right where they left off. They’re 19-7-3 this season and just one point behind the Montreal Canadiens for the league lead in the East.

Boston, on the other hand has had trouble finding any rhythm this season. They’re 16-12-2 this season, but coming off arguably their best win of the season. A hard-fought 2-1 battle against the league-leading Montreal Canadiens. They’re 5-3-2 in their last ten and trending in the right direction, so a win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday would be an incredible confidence booster. Let’s see how both teams stack up.

Offense

With Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel all in the top four in league scoring, it’s clear the Penguins can score. They’ve beat NHL goaltenders an absurd 104 times and only the New York Rangers have scored more (106).

They own a league-best goals differential of +34, and that was on full display against Arizona in their last game. Pittsburgh won 7-0 and had seven different players find the back of the net including two defensemen.

Their powerplay is operating at a 20.2 percent success rate and they have the 4th more opportunities with the extra-man advantage at 3.59 chances per game. All these factors contribute to Pittsburgh having the best offense in the entire NHL with 3.59 goals a game.

Boston meanwhile, isn’t as fortunate this season. They’ve scored just 71 goals and rank 25th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.37. Brad Marchand has arguably been the best Bruin this year and a nice surprise with eight goals and 17 assists to lead the team with 25 points this season.

Outside of him and David Pastrnak, the production drops and their powerplay isn’t helping them either. Boston is 25th in that department as well. They score on just 13.64 percent of their extra-man advantages, but luckily have a decent defensive core.

Defense

Boston actually allow less goals than Pittsburgh per game, ranking 8th in the league by allowing just 2.37 pucks to trickle in. They’re led by the unflappable Zeno Chara and rookie Brandon Carlo.

The 19-year old has logged just over 22 minutes a game this season playing on the top line, and while he can occasionally make mistakes or over-extend himself with Chara playing beside him, he’s going to be good for a long time to come.

The Penguins let in a significant 2.9 goals a game, but because they score so much it hardly matters. They still possess some of the best defensemen in the league in Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Trevor Daley but do have trouble killing penalties.

Compared to Boston’s excellent penalty killing unit that kills off 87.88 percent of power plays, the Penguins are successful just 76.7 percent of the time. Luckily for Pittsburgh, Boston’s power play is so awful they shouldn’t have to worry.

Goalies

After an uncharacteristic slow start Tuukka Rask has transformed back into the Boston goalie we’ve seen dominate for years. He is in the top ten in goals against average (1.8), save percentage (.932), wins (15) and shutouts (3).

He stopped 30 of 31 shots in his last game against Montreal and looks poised to help Boston start climbing the standings in the East.

Pittsburgh continues to deal with an awkward situation. They’re “number 1” goalie is Marc-Andre Fleury, but only by name.  While Fleury has played more games than “backup” Matt Murray, that number will continue shrink.

Fleury owns a .900 save percent and 3.42 goals against average while Murray (the Stanley Cup winning Murray) rocks a .932 save percentage with a sparkling goals against average of 1.84. It’s not going to make a huge difference who starts against Boston’s impotent offense, but its worth keeping an eye on.

Despite Boston’s trend upwards, we still like Pittsburgh in this matchup. They’re playing at home and are on a six game win streak. We like the moneyline for the Penguins and see this game staying under.

Pick

Pittsburgh
3

Boston
1

San Jose Sharks at Ottawa Senators

The Lines

Moneyline

  • San Jose (-123) at Ottawa (+100)

Spread

  • San Jose (-1.5) at Ottawa (+1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

Despite a strong start to the season the Ottawa Senators have lost two in a row including a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks in their last game.

Luckily for them they welcome a strong San Jose team that’s playing on the second night of a back-to-back after they narrowly escaped Toronto with a shootout win. Let’s see how these two teams stack up in an exciting Eastern-Western showdown.

Offense

Both teams carry almost identical offenses into Wednesday’s matchup, which isn’t great news for either club. Both San Jose and Ottawa rank well below the league average in goals per game (2.71) at 2.45 for the Sharks and 2.41 for the Senators.

A big part of their poor production comes from the powerplay. San Jose is connecting on 16.85 percent of their extra man attackers with Ottawa right behind them at 16.3 percent.

Luckily for these clubs, their forwards aren’t the only players on the ice.

Defense

When your offense struggles what do you do? Get your defensemen to score of course. At lease that’s the method these two teams have seemed to take this season.

In San Jose Brent Burns leads all scorers with 16 points on the season while still shutting it down on the defensive end. No one in the entire NHL has taken more shots than Burns, and when you through in Marc-Edouard Vlasic (day to day with an upper body injury) and Justin Braun there’s a reason you rank third in goals per game at just 2.17

Ottawa has some pretty good D-Men of their own starting with the early Norris Trophy favorite Erik Karlsson. Karlsson has 27 points this season to lead all defensemen and is 15th in overall league scoring.

Add Dion Phaneuf and Marc Methot to the mix and you can quickly see why Ottawa allows just 2.69 goals a game.

Goalies

Craig Anderson is Ottawa’s best goalie and number one starter, but he is currently dealing with the sad news of his wife’s cancer. He is out for an undisclosed amount of time and we wish him the best during this difficult period.

In his absence Mike Condon has been a great fill in. He sports a .923 save percentage and sparkling 2.28 goals against average and is capable of shutting down any team, especially one as offensively inept as the Sharks this season.

The Sharks may choose to start Aaron Dell to give Martin Jones a rest, but both goalies have been excellent this season with save percentages above .900 and goals against averages below 2.30.

We don’t like to shout out upset for no reason here, but after watching the Sharks struggle against the Leafs last night and having to play again on the road the next evening could mean a win for Ottawa. We recommend taking the Ottawa moneyline but avoiding everything else.

Pick

Ottawa
2

San Jose
1

Tampa Bay Lightning at Calgary Flames

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Tampa Bay (+101) at Calgary (-111)

Spread

  • Tampa Bay (-1.5) at Calgary (+1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5

Another great matchup for our Wednesday night hockey slate. The Flames are one of the hottest teams in the league with six straight wins while the Lightning can strike at any moment. Who holds the edge in another Eastern-Western matchup?

Offense

With Steven Stamkos out until at least the playoffs (assuming Tampa Bay even makes them) the Lightning have still managed to own an above-average offense on the year. They’re scoring 2.79 goals a game and continue to own one of the best powerplays in the NHL.

Nikita Kucherov may have been the best player on the Lightning even with Stamkos healthy and he’s doing it all this year. His 13 goals and 17 assists have him in sole possession of 5th in league scoring and he’s the only player on his team in the top 50. Considering he’s doing this all while being the main player teams have to worry about is nothing short of amazing.

Calgary meanwhile doesn’t have a single player in the top 50 in scoring and their leading scorer has just 19 points on the year (Johnny Gaudreau).

Yet the Flames are still scoring 2.69 goals a game, which is better than league average and right near the Lightning in the standings. Despite their powerplay succeeding just 15.46 percent of the time, they’re still finding ways to score thanks to a balanced attack.

Defense

Both teams defenses have been less than average this season, with Calgary letting in 2.77 goals a game and Tampa Bay right behind them at 2.79. Both their penalty killing units rank below league average as well despite having some pretty big names on the blueline.

Tampa is fortunate enough to have Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman patrolling the line while Calgary counters with one of the best defensemen in the NHL in Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie.

Goalies

So how is Calgary on a six game winning streak and in the middle of the pack in a tough Western Conference? Thank Chad Johnson. The 30-year old net minder has lost just one game in his last ten starts and owns an amazing .932 save percentage while letting in just 1.98 goals a game. He’s arguably the hottest goalie in the league right now but will be in tough against Nikita Kucherov and the rest of the Lightning.

In Tampa the situation is a little cloudier. The Lightning are just 2-7-1 in their last ten games and a lot of the blame falls on Ben Bishop and Adrei Vasilevsky. It’s anyones guess who will get more starts to try and get Tampa out of their slump.

It’s upset time again! Calgary has been winning games despite playing mediocre hockey, and we think snapping this winning streak is just what the Lightning need to kickstart their season. We love taking the Tampa spread, but ignoring the moneyline. We also picture this game going over.

Pick

Tampa Bay
4

Calgary
3

Philadelphia Flyers at Colorado Avalanche

The Lines

Moneyline

  • Philadelphia (-113) at Colorado (+102)

Spread

  • Philadelphia (-1.5) at Colorado (+1.5)

Total – Over/Under

  • 5.5

We’ll make this one short and sweet because honestly, what else can you say about the Flyers at this point? They’ve won NINE straight and are somehow just three points out of first place in the Eastern Conference. Honestly, do you want to bet against them at this point?

Offense

Jakub Voracek has quickly turned himself into one of the best players in the NHL and leads the team with 32 points. Claude Giroux is right behind him with 29 followed closely by Wayne Simmons at 28. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins have three more impressive forwards at this point.

They’re scoring 3.26 goals a game and compared to Colorado’s 2.22 it’s not even close. The Avalanche have just one player with 20 points this season in Nathan McKinnon (20) and just cannot seem to score this season.

Defense

Philadelphia’s weak spot is their defense. They allow 3.03 goals per game, but the good news is Colorado’s defense is even worse. The Avalanche allow a league-worst goals per game at 3.19.

That’s really all you need to know, it’s time to bring on the goals.

Goalies

Steve Mason leads the charge in Philadelphia with 24 games played already this season, but his stats are not particularly impressive. He has just a .905 save percentage while allowing 2.78 goals per game, but when you’re scoring the way the Flyers are it doesn’t seem to matter.

Semyon Varlamov has been a disappointment so far this season with a 3.21 goals against average and is now injured to make matters worse meaning Calvin Pickard gets the start. Pickard has a respectable  .913 save percentage this season, but is in tough against Philly.

We don’t recommend betting on games like this when the odds aren’t particularly good in either direction, but if you must, why not keep riding the Flyers? Its flat-out fun to watch them play so you misewell earn the money and hope the spread comes through.

Pick

Philadelphia
4

Colorado
2

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