After a weird Tuesday slate with some underdogs winning and a lot of low scoring games, we’re back in the saddle on Wednesday. That’s the beauty of the NHL season: the show goes on the next day. Wednesday gives us a five game slate to break down.
Two of the NHL’s top teams in the early going will face-off on Wednesday night. Florida has points in 11 of their first 13 games, while Carolina has won 10 of it’s first 13.
Both teams find themselves in the top five of the league in terms of expected goal-rate. Carolina leads the league in terms of expected goals scored per hour at 5on5, while the Panthers lead the league in terms of expected goals against per hour.
Despite leading the league in expected goals against, the Panthers are simply middle of the pack when it comes to goals against per game. Some of this can be blamed on their penalty kill, which falls in the bottom ten of the league.
A lot of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of Sergei Bobrovsky, who has the second worst mark in the league in terms of goals saved above expectation. Chris Driedger will make his second start in a row in this game. Driedger has had a solid beginning to the season, but he has been beaten seven times in his last two outings.
Both of these teams rank in the top ten of the league in terms of goals per game. Both teams are also top ten in terms of powerplay effectiveness.
James Reimer has taken over the starting role for the Carolina Hurricanes due to an injury to Petr Mrazek. Reimer has been mediocre, posting a -2.67 goals saved above expectation mark through his eight appearances.
The Hurricanes are led offensively by the trio of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen. For many years, the Hurricanes outplayed their opponents but didn’t have enough talent to take full advantage. Those days are gone.
On the flipside, the Panthers are led by Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Barkov. However, Florida has added depth to their attack as surprises like Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Wennberg and Eetu Luostarinen are contributing at a solid level.
Both teams have potent offenses that rank in the top ten in goals per game. With both teams being on top of their games, I think we can see a back and forth game here that goes over the total.
Bet: Over 6 Goals @ -120
The Chicago Blackhawks might be one of the bigger surprises in the NHL to begin this weird 2021 season.
After releasing a note to their fans saying the organization was building for the future, Chicago has started the season with an 8-5-4 record. The Blackhawks have won five of their last six games.
After starting the season by giving up 20 goals in their first four games, the Blackhawks have given up just 29 in the 13 games since then. That’s barely over 2 goals a game which would make them one of the better defensive teams in the league.
While the Blackhawks rank bottom ten in terms of expected-goals against per hour at 5-on-5, they’ve been propped up by spectacular goaltending from Kevin Lankinen. Malcolm Subban has also rebounded well after starting the season poorly.
Despite giving up six goals a few nights ago, Lankinen is still giving up less than 2.5 goals a night while stopping 92.5% of the shots he is facing. Over Subban’s last three appearances, he’s stopping nearly 94% of the shots he has faced.
Detroit ranks second worst in the league, averaging just 2.06 goals per game. They also rank dead last in terms of expected goals scored per hour at 5-on-5. Their powerplay is the 2nd worst in the league.
What Detroit lacks offensively, they try to atone for defensively. Detroit still ranks bottom ten in terms of goals against per game, but this is misleading. Thomas Greiss has been subpar for the Red Wings to begin the season, stopping just 89.9% of the shots he has faced.
However, Greiss has given up three goals or less in five straight starts which might show that he’s beginning to turn the corner. In his career, Greiss has stopped nearly 91.5% of the shots he’s faced.
Detroit’s defensive effort has actually been extremely impressive to begin the year. They have the third best mark when it comes to expected goals against per hour. If goaltending can hold up, Detroit will be tough to score against.
So to recap: Detroit has the worst offense in terms of expected goals scored and third best defense in terms of expected goals against. Seems like a team trying to play low-scoring, low-event games.
When you couple that with the surprising play of the Blackhawks’ netminders, I think we’ll see a low-scoring affair on Wednesday.
Bet: Under 5.5 @ -103
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Panthers at Hurricanes - Over 6 Goals @ -120 (Click To Bet)
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