NHL Betting Picks for Thursday 3/21/24: Islanders, Red Wings Fight for Playoff Hopes

Scott Edwards Jr.
Scott Edwards Jr.@ScottEdwardsJr
NHL Betting Picks for Thursday 3/21/24: Islanders, Red Wings Fight for Playoff Hopes

A big-time 11-game slate is on the tap in the NHL, and some major matchups with playoff implications headline the night.

Whether it's moneylines or total goals, there are plenty of ways to bet on the NHL action all season. It's a long 82-game campaign, 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 are from the NHL odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. All advanced statistics are used from MoneyPuck.com and NaturalStatTrick.com.

NHL Best Bets

New York Islanders at Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings ML (+100)

Things couldn't be tighter in the hunt for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, so it's only right that two of the teams in the conversation face off tonight.

Both the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings have had some wild seasons.

The Red Wings were the best team going for a good month before falling back down to earth, as they're 2-8-0 in their last 10.

The Islanders earned themselves a bunch of victories, winning six in a row to get them back in the playoff conversation. However, they've now lost five straight, scoring six goals in total.

New York now finds themselves looking up at the Red Wings and others in that final spot. And it's that losing streak that has us leaning toward the Red Wings, who should carry momentum into this one because of their last game.

When you need your best players to step up, they do. That's what Patrick Kane did in overtime for Detroit on Tuesday.

Momentum and home ice give the Red Wings an edge. But let's dive into how they've done this season compared to the Islanders.

Detroit remains a top scoring team, ranking 7th in the NHL with 3.36 goals for per 60 minutes (GF/60). The Islanders aren't as successful in that department, ranking 21st with 2.93 GF/60.

Keeping the puck out of their own net has been pretty similar, with the Red Wings allowing 3.33 goals against per 60 minutes (GA/60) and the Islanders letting up 3.22 GA/60. The same is highlighted with their expected numbers. New York is better with 3.19 expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60), but not by much, as Detroit is at 3.27 xGA/60.

numberFire's model loves Detroit tonight, giving them a 62.72% likelihood of getting the win. That's a big improvement over the +100 odds, which means a 50.0% implied probability.

Winnipeg Jets at New Jersey Devils

Jets ML (-122)

Betting the Winnipeg Jets has worked out a lot this season. Tonight feels like another one of those times, as the nosedive of the New Jersey Devils has no real end in sight besides the season coming to a close.

The Jets will be sending out Laurent Brossoit and company to slow down the Devils, giving us confidence in the bet despite the backup netminder. Brossoit starting over Connor Hellebuyck is a big reason for the odds being so close, but he's as good as they come for backups. He's sporting a minuscule 1.99 goals against average (GAA) along with an impressive .927 save percentage.

It's as good as it gets for a backup, and the Jets will have to beat Jake Allen tonight in response. Allen has been fine this season with a 3.44 GAA and .900 SV%, splitting time with the Montreal Canadiens and Devils. But it's clear who has the advantage there.

In terms of goalscoring, the Jets even have that advantage when you're looking at the most recent numbers.

Over the last 10 games, the Devils are scoring just 2.70 GF/60, while the Jets are scoring at a rate of 3.70 GF/60. The expected numbers do tell a different story, as the Devils have a slight advantage with 3.04 expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60) compared to the Jets' 2.97 -- but when it comes to allowing goals, it's again not close.

Winnipeg has kept their opponents looking for answers with 2.10 GA/60 and 2.51 xGA/60. New Jersey wishes they could say the same, allowing 3.30 GA/60 and having an even worse 3.49 xGA/60.

Enough is working in the favor of the Jets to trust them to earn the win in this one. It's all Winnipeg tonight.

Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks

Lightning -1.5 (-160)

It's been a long while since I made some picks with the San Jose Sharks involved, but things have been going the Tampa Bay Lightning's way lately, so let's go with Lightning -1.5.

Would it come as a shock if I said the Sharks have been struggling these last 10 games? No? I didn't think so.

The Sharks are scoring 2.57 GF/60 in their last 10, which is actually much better than their season average (2.17). But when it comes to letting up goals, it is ugly. They're allowing a bloated 4.65 GA/60 -- easily the worst in this span throughout the NHL.

The Lightning, on the other hand, have dominated on both ends in their last 10 games. They've scored 4.05 GF/60 and are only allowing 2.97 GA/60. It's nearly the reverse of what the Sharks have done in the same span, so this is a Tampa Bay kind of night.

One more reason to believe in the Lightning covering is the goalie situation. Tampa Bay will roll out Andrei Vasilevskiy while the Sharks turn to Magnus Chrona. Vasilevskiy isn't the goalie he once was, but he's still solid enough with a 2.96 GAA and .898 SV% -- especially when you compare him to Chrona. The Sharks' netminder has been roughed up, allowing five or more goals in two of the last three games. Overall, Chrona has a 4.71 GAA and .859 SV%.

The Lightning have got this covered tonight. Everything should go their way in this game.

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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.