NHL Betting Picks and Player Props to Target: Saturday 12/2/23
Saturday usually means a busy night on the ice, and we've got 26 teams in action at some point today. With no shortage of options to choose from, there are some pretty tasty wagers sitting at FanDuel Sportsbook's proverbial kiosks.
Whether it's moneylines, total goals, or player props, there are plenty of ways to bet on the NHL action all season long. It's a long 82-game season, meaning that the best selections of each night can be very different based on backup goalies coming into play, injuries that add up, and if teams are due for positive or negative swings.
Let's dive into the best bets for tonight.
Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.
New York Islanders at Florida Panthers
Under 6.5 (-130)
The Florida Panthers are turning to their backup goaltender on Saturday, which usually leads to over bet. What if he's better, though?
To this point, Anthony Stolarz has been. Stolarz has posted 4.00 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) this season compared to the normal starter, Sergei Bobrovsky, at 3.11 GSAx. Is their a goaltending controversy here? No, but this means we don't have to downgrade their defense much -- and that's a good thing. Florida's 2.78 expected goals per 60 minutes allowed are the fourth-fewest in the league.
If we're not worried about Florida's side, the New York Islanders aren't much of a concern, either. The Isles typically live in 5.5-goal totals behind a weak offense (2.89 expected goals per 60) and elite goaltending from either Semyon Varlamov (7.90 GSAx) or Ilya Sorokin (6.10 GSAx), who has fully recovered from his slow start to the year.
numberFire's model is expecting fewer than seven goals in this game 60.3% of the time. Even against these inflated 56.5% implied odds, there's value here.
Boston Bruins at Toronto Maple Leafs
Maple Leafs ML (-115)
John Tavares 4+ Shots on Goal (+125)
This line might be a good one to shop no matter who you like. Various books have interchanged these two clubs as favorites in what I'll ultimately chalk up to a pick 'em.
These two teams haven't quite been their 2022-23 versions despite the records. Boston's expected-goals-for rate (xGF%) is 51.2% -- good for 14th in the NHL. They're a rounding error from Toronto (50.2%) in the middle of the pack.
In goal, it's fairly tight, too. Joseph Woll has continued his torrid postseason run for the Leafs this regular season, posting 6.66 GSAx. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark (5.82 GSAx) lags just slightly behind.
numberFire gives Toronto a 52.3% chance to win, and I think they're a worthy slight favorite, as well.
As for who helps contribute to it, John Tavares sticks out like a sore thumb in our projections today. They're expecting 3.74 shots at a median from the Leafs' center, who continues to pound a healthy TOI average (18:47) while putting 3.48 shots per game on target. In a tightly contested affair, it's easy to see why the projections believe in a ceiling day for him, and this prop shouldn't be above even money when expecting very close to it.
Seattle Kraken at Ottawa Senators
Over 6.5 (-108)
Brady Tkachuk Anytime Goal (+145)
In terms of tangibly predicting goal scoring, the skaters' efforts help, but goaltending is significantly more impactful. That's why I -- and numberFire's model -- love a contrarian over here.
On paper, these are two good defensive clubs. The Seattle Kraken allow the fifth-fewest expected goals per 60 minutes in the NHL (2.85), and the Ottawa Senators aren't far behind (2.97). There may not be many shots, but they're definitely going in the net.
Seattle's tandem of Joey Daccord (-2.41 GSAx) and Philipp Grubauer (-5.09 GSAx) have taken turns letting the club down this season, and the Sens haven't gotten nearly what they expected out of prize acquisition Joonas Korpisalo (-2.92 GSAx). These three's historical success in previous seasons might be masking how poorly they've performed in 2023-24.
numberFire's model expects an over 58.0% of the time in this game, and these odds imply just a 52.3% chance.
If scoring is abound, expect Brady Tkachuk to be involved. The Sens' franchise winger has still chucked shots on goal (4.61 per game) among the league leaders. numberFire has him projected for 0.64 goals tonight, which would translate to -178 odds to score. This plus-money prop might be my favorite spot on the entire card.
Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Under 6.5 (-120)
The high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins are never fun to fade with an under, but it makes plenty of sense today.
There are too many other elements in the opposite direction to expect a shootout here. While Pittsburgh's 3.46 expected goals per 60 minutes are fourth-best in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers are allowing the third-fewest expected goals per 60 on defense (2.69).
On the other side, the Flyers' offense (3.11 expected goals per 60) is around the league average, and the Pens' defense (3.22 expected goals allowed per 60) is just below average.
Luckily for them, Tristan Jarry is sneaking into Vezina conversations at 11.77 GSAx (third in the NHL). Philadelphia's Carter Hart was among the league leaders in that category a year ago, but an elite D makes it hard to post GSAx. Even so, Hart's in the green (0.67 GSAx) as a net positive to this stage.
numberFire's model expects the under 62.1% of the time here, creating substantial betting value against these 54.5% implied odds.
Colorado Avalanche at Anaheim Ducks
Ducks +1.5 (-132)
Nathan MacKinnon Anytime Goal (+100)
The Colorado Avalanche continue to lay huge betting lines, but they're just 5-7 against the spread (ATS) on the road this year. This has been continuously a good spot to fade them, so why not back one of the league's best stories?
In terms of expected goals, this game isn't close. With a 53.6 xGF%, Colorado ranks sixth in the NHL in expected goal differential, and the Ducks (44.5%) are third from the bottom in that category. However, while the Avs may dominate chances, the goaltending in this game makes all the difference.
Anaheim's John Gibson (9.05 GSAx) is finally having a run at the Vezina as expected when he was drafted in the second round in 2011, and Colorado's Alexandar Georgiev (1.54 GSAx) hasn't been nearly as stout.
nF likes this wager, too. It's expecting the Ducks to cover a goal 65.8% of the time, yet these odds imply just a 56.9% chance.
The model's player projections also recommend taking another wager in this one. On the back of the Ducks' poor defense at the skating level (3.51 expected goals allowed per 60), it believes Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon scores 72.0% of the time tonight. I don't think I need to explain the math or value compared to his +100 odds for an anytime tally.
The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.