This article is part of our Handicapping the NHL series.
RotoWire's AJ Scholz takes a deep dive into his favorite bets ahead of Thursday's eight-game slate, including a look at the Moneyline, Puckline, total and player props with odds courtesy of the DraftKings Sportsbook.
Picking the Favorite: There's not enough value in taking heavy favorites Boston (-255) or Seattle (-165), but the Blues are a decent spot at -130 to defeat the skeleton squad currently being put out by the Sharks due to COVID-19 positives. For their part, St. Louis is currently leading the league in goals per game (4.14) thanks to goals from 14 different skates, highlighted by David Perron's half-dozen tallies.
Finding an Underdog: As mentioned, the Kraken are the second biggest favorites on the night, which means you can get significant value taking the Sabres to win at +145. A lot will depend on the health of Victor Olofsson (undisclosed), the Sabres' leading scorer with nine points in eight games. Seattle is also dealing with a struggling Philipp Grubauer, who is far off his 2020-21 pace that saw him nominated for the Vezina Trophy. The value here on Buffalo is just too good to pass up.
Covering the Puckline
Favorite Team to Cover: Usually when looking at the Puckline and giving up a goal and a half, you can find some pretty significant value but Boston is so heavily favored that you'll find them just about even money at +105 to cover against Detroit. That said, the Wings are allowing 34.0 shots per game (fourth highest in the league) which isn't a recipe for success versus the Bruins' 'Perfection Line' of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak which has combined for 16 points in seven games.
Best of the Rest: Admittedly, I don't love the rest of the Puckline options here, so at that point, it's all about finding some value. The Islanders aren't exactly lighting the lamp this season at just 2.43 goals per game, yet that lack of offensive production is superseded by the Habs' own struggles as they are averaging just 2.00 goals through 11 games. If New York can find some offense from the likes of Mathew Barzal, the club shouldn't need much to cover while returning +170 value.
Betting the Total
Taking the Over: All the star power will be on display in the Lightning v. Maple Leafs game, including Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Auston Matthews and John Tavares just to name a few. Given that fact, it's somewhat surprising to see the total sitting at 6 rather than 6.5. If you want to hedge your bets with over 6, including the push opportunity, you can get near even money here at -110 here, but this is a good spot to look at the alternate lines and consider giving up that extra half goal to get some value in a game that has all the makings of a high-scoring affair.
Spotting the Under: As mentioned above, the Islanders and Canadiens are two of the worst teams in the league offensively right now, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to see the total sitting at 5.5. You'll have to give up some juice at -130 here but I just don't see where the offense is going to come from, even if one of the teams can find some sort of productivity.
Favorite Player Props
Anytime Goal Scorer: On the Thursday slate, the player with the best odds to score a goal is Toronto's Auston Matthews (-110) followed by Boston's David Pastrnak (+100). Either is a quality option, though I'd favor Pastrnak considering he has a better matchup versus Detroit. In terms of value, however, I'd target Alex Killorn of the Lightning who is +195 as an anytime goalscorer despite leading his team with seven goals.
Pick up an Assist: Through nine games this season, Victor Hedman has nine assists, including one in each of his previous two contests. You can get the Lightning's power-play quarterback and perennial Norris Trophy option at +115 to grab his 10th assist of the season in Thursday's matchup with the Maple Leafs.