We've got another weekend of hockey action, culminating in a Sunday night showdown between two teams that have been playing very clean hockey to begin the season. We break down the odds for that game and three other matchups this weekend as we bring you the top betting notes, trends and predictions in the NHL.
A PATTERN IS FORMING
Colorado and Vegas have only faced each other a half-dozen times during the regular season, but there are two distinct trends that could offer clarity for bettors as the Avalanche visit the Golden Knights on Friday night.
The home team has won all six meetings between the teams, with the Avalanche coming off back-to-back wins in their final two meetings of 2018-19. And four of the six encounters have finished below the number, with only the first and last meetings (seven goals apiece) bucking the trend.
With both teams playing solid defensive hockey, we like the Vegas/Under combo here.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have added a little spice to their historic rivalry in recent meetings, and will look to continue their offensive success in the latest edition Saturday at Bell Centre. The teams have played consecutive 6-5 decisions, with Montreal winning both; they've also combined for 7+ goals in four consecutive meetings, with each of those games featuring three first-period goals.
Toronto has scored 13 first-period goals so far this season – second-most in the NHL entering Thursday night's games – while Montreal ranks sixth with 11. Bettors should consider the Over on the first-period total.
GETTING THE POINT
Johnny Gaudreau is off to a slow start to the season – at least, by the standards he set last year – but he could be facing the perfect get-right spot Saturday night as the Calgary Flames play the Winnipeg Jets in Regina for the Heritage Classic. Gaudreau is well off his 99-point pace from a season ago with three goals and six assists through 11 games, which might cool interest in his goal or point props this weekend.
However, he has nine goals and nine assists in 14 career games vs. the Jets, and lit them up for four goals in three regular-season meetings last season. We're confident in Gaudreau as a strong option on all scoring props.
BROAD STREET BULLIES NO MORE
Don't expect much chicanery Sunday night as the New York Islanders entertain the Philadelphia Flyers. The Isles enter the weekend having spent just 32 minutes, 39 seconds shorthanded, the second-lowest rate in the league. The Flyers are No. 1 on the list at 27:23 for the season, and the teams have been shorthanded just 39 combined times so far (Philadelphia 20, N.Y. Islanders 19).
Add in the fact that the Isles also rank last in the NHL in power-play opportunities (12) and time spent with the man advantage (16:34), and the Under looks like a strong option given what could be a shortage of PP time.
GOALIE PROFILE: Darcy Kuemper, ARIZONA COYOTES
Kuemper took a big step forward in his first full season in Arizona, posting a 2.33 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and five shutouts as the Coyotes posted the second-most Under results in the Western Conference last season.
The 29-year-old has been in another stratosphere so far in 2019-20, his 1.68 goals-against average ranking third among qualified netminders and his .944 save percentage good for second overall. And that's a major reason why the Coyotes are 2-5-1 O/U to date, and will continue to be a superior Under play moving forward.
INJURY UPDATE, F Mikko Rantanen, COLORADO AVALANCHE
The Avalanche are off to a hot start, but could be in trouble for the next little while. Rantanen suffered a leg injury after his skate become stuck in the ice during Monday's game against the St. Louis Blues, and Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar confirmed that the talented winger is considered "week-to-week".
While it isn't clear when Rantanen will return, Bednar did suggest that the injury shouldn't keep Rantanen out for more than a month. Rantanen has racked up 12 points through his first nine games of the season; Colorado is 7-1-1 SU entering Friday night's showdown with host Vegas.
HAT TRICK TRENDS
• NHL teams continue to offer no measurable league-wide edge when it comes to totals action. After Unders outnumbered Overs 24-23 over the previous seven days, Overs have now converted 70 total times for the season compared to Unders at 68. Extra-time games have skewed slightly below the total, with 17 Unders compared to 15 Overs.
• We shared Peter MacDougall's incredible run of Overs last week – but which NHL official has been the best Under play through the first few weeks of the NHL season? That mantle belongs squarely to Chris Rooney, whose games have gone below the total six times through his first seven assignments; those games are averaging a paltry 4.43 goals.
• The Buffalo Sabres and Avalanche remain the biggest profit makers in the league to date, with the Sabres at +7.03 units and the Avalanche (+5.05) the only other team north of five units. At the other ends, the Dallas Stars continue to trail the pack at -4.85 units with the New Jersey Deevils (-4.46) in hot pursuit. The defending-champion Blues are at -1.94 units to date.