NHL Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Sunday, December 18th


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NHL Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Sunday, December 18th

Recap: Saturday’s best bets split 1-1 for a small loss thanks to the Devils losing as a -135 favorite.


Sunday’s Best Bets: Pittsburgh Penguins EVEN

I’m tracking all my plays on Betstamp: a third party bet tracking app. The bets reveal themselves after the games start. I keep my own personal records as well and they may differ slightly from Betstamp due to several factors, but for the most part, it should line up closely.

Wins: 44 Losses: 47 Units Won: -4.77 units ROI: -10 percent

All game lines via DraftKings Sportsbook and BetMGM Sportsbook, but I will sometimes use the consensus odds from the VSiN NHL Odds page if it is a better price and widely available. All recommended bets will be accompanied by recommended stake size. All stats via Evolving Hockey and Natural Stat Trick.

Pittsburgh Penguins (EVEN) at Carolina Hurricanes (-120)

Bet: Pittsburgh Penguins EVEN
Risk: 1 unit
To Win: 1 unit

Carolina has an 8-1 record when Pyotr Kochetkov is guarding the cage, and I don’t love the idea of betting against him (or the Hurricanes). The 23-year-old has posted a .923 save percentage and a +6.9 GSAx (goals saved above expected). My model sees the Penguins as a small favorite, though, and because it suggests they’ll win the game about 52.4 percent (-110) of the time, I bet on Pittsburgh to win on Sunday.

No team has had a better expected goals percentage than Carolina over the last month, but the Penguins are right there in third place, and they’ve been outscoring opponents more than Carolina has due to being better on offense and defense. The Hurricanes might be the best defensive team in the league, but Pittsburgh is also a top-10 team in expected goals against and they’ve allowed fewer goals per 60 minutes.

Carolina’s offense hasn’t been as potent as Pittsburgh’s either, and the former is going to be without their top player and leading scorer, Sebastian Aho. They’ll also be tired after going to overtime on Saturday against the Stars. They didn’t have to travel, which is a plus, but the Penguins have had two days off and they’re coming into this game having won seven in a row and 12 of their last 14 games. This should be a close one, but the Penguins are a decent bet at even money or better.

Note: Tristan Jarry is expected to start in goal for the Penguins.

Winnipeg Jets (+130) at Seattle Kraken (-150)

Winnipeg dominated the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday, but Sunday, their best player will likely be on the bench. Connor Hellebuyck was in goal for the Jets’ 5-1 win over the Canucks, which means backup goaltender David Rittich will almost certainly start in Settle. The Jets are now without forward Blake Wheeler, too, and Nikolaj Ehlers has not yet returned from his injury, so this game will likely be a tough one.

Seattle’s overall play has dropped over the last month, but they still rank third in goals per 60 minutes (one spot higher than Winnipeg) and although they rank among the bottom-10 teams in goals against, most of the Jets’ success on defense can be attributed to Hellebuyck and that’s why Seattle is priced at -150. Rittich has a win over the Kraken already this season, so it can be done, but although I think -150 is a little too high, there’s no edge betting on the road team at +130. 

New York Rangers (-220) at Chicago Blackhawks (+190)

Losers of 20 of their last 23 games, and six in a row, there isn’t much hope for the Blackhawks these days. They’re tanking hard for Bedard, and who can blame them? Chicago is the worst offensive team in the NHL, averaging roughly two goals per game, and even when teams are tired, they still beat the Blackhawks rather easily.

New York played on Saturday, earning a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and they wisely rested Igor Shesterkin so that he could give them a boost on Sunday. The Rangers have won six games in row and there’s about a 70 percent (-235) chance that they extend the streak to seven games.

The current odds (-220) don’t meet my threshold, though, and now that Arvid Soderblom is confirmed as Chicago’s starting goaltender (I was hoping it would be Petr Mrazek) I won’t be betting on the road team.

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