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@FastMoneyLabs’ Best NHL Bets for Tuesday - 3/8

$FML went 3-1 on Monday night, don't miss his Tuesday night picks as the heaters go on!

Tampa Bay Lightning (37-12-6) @ Winnipeg Jets (24-22-10)

Happy Tuesday. I may have mentioned this in the past, but a quick reminder: Tuesdays have been the 2nd highest scoring day in the NHL this year (6.24 goals per game) behind Mondays (6.41).

I can’t find a reasonable explanation for it, but at a bare minimum — it gives us a good excuse to back an ‘Over’ on a packed 11-game slate, right?!

Before I dive into my pick - I want to acknowledge that hunting for value on a day with 11 games can feel overwhelming. To assist you with your own betting process, I went a little deeper today to explain my framework for making selections on days like this.

Why I’m targeting TBL/WPG

My process for hunting value in sports markets is grounded in a framework that includes 4 pillars:

  1. Recent form / trends
  2. Expected regression
  3. Past matchup history
  4. Lineup & goaltender considerations 

Of the 11 matchups today, TBL/WPG check the most boxes on my checklist for a Game Total bet, hence why it’s my top target today.

Now that we’re more than a month removed from All-Star Weekend, I’ve started looking at Post-All-Star Break (ASB) splits, and the stats for tonight’s matchup are mouthwatering. . . at least the scoring part.

Goals per 60 minutes, post-ASB:

  • TBL are scoring 3.89 (5th most)
  • WPG are scoring 3.32 (11th most)
  • TBL are allowing 2.78 (11th fewest)
  • WPG are allowing 3.25 (15th most)

Below are home/road splits for the same stat:

  • TBL are scoring 4.2 (6th most) on the road
  • WPG are scoring 3.47 (10th most) at home
  • TBL are allowing 2.8 (12th fewest) on the road
  • WPG are allowing 3.1 (9th fewest) at home

These stats correspond with a profitable trend emerging in the Game Total market. In their last 10 games, the Over is:

  • 8-2 in TBL road games (tied for 2nd highest L10 hit rate on road)
  • 6-4 in WPG home games (tied for 6th highest L10 hit rate at home)

The risk relates to goaltending. Both sides have been getting stellar play from their netminders (though it has tapered off a little recently). Should we be concerned?

Expected Regression

To answer the question, I compared each team’s actual goals vs. their expected goals statistic. When there are differences, it can be interpreted as an indication that a team’s recent performance is being powered by luck.

Without getting too technical, I found that in their last 10 home/road:

  • WPG’s scoring output (3.18 actual goals) is below their expected output (3.52) in their L10 home
  • TBL’s scoring output (4.8 actual goals) is above their expected output (3.19) in their L10 road

Ideally, both would be scoring less than expected, which would indicate they’re both due for positive scoring regression. WPG fits the bill, but the stats suggest TBL is due for negative scoring regression. What makes me comfortable about that is the fact TBL’s expected goal scoring is still high at 3.19. Even if they regress, it shouldn’t be by much.

As far as goaltending, I found that both sides are due for slightly better goaltending. I’m not convinced we’ll get it tonight, though, based on the past history between these 2 clubs, as I’ll explain next.

Past Matchup History

The last 4 meetings between these clubs featured 7+ goals.

  • January 2020: TBL 7, WPG 1
  • November 2019: WPG 4, TBL 3
  • March 2019: TBL 5, WPG 2
  • December 2018: WPG 5, TBL 4

Tonight is their first matchup of the current campaign, but the rosters feature roughly the same cores as years’ past (minus Laine for WPG), which makes me comfortable referencing the trend.

I also noticed TBL have done well this year vs. the Western Conference opponents. That statement is especially true on the road, where they’ve scored 3.76 goals per game as a visitor in the West (17-game sample).

Interestingly - I also found that WPG allows it’s highest goals per game (3.8) when hosting Eastern Conference Opponents. That 3.8 figure feels high, but it corresponds with their Expected Goals allowed statistic (3.66), too, which tells me it’s likely a real trend (not a fluke).

Lineup & goaltender considerations

At time of writing, Connor Hellebuyck (18-20-3, 2.95 GAA, 0.910 SV%) is the confirmed starter for WPG. Hellebuyck’s a good goalie but has been struggling of late, posting a 3-5-2 record, 3.30 GAA and 0.902 SV% (all below season averages) in his last 10. The Over is 26-21 on the year when he starts.

TBL’s projected (not confirmed) starter is Andrei Vasilevskiy (30-9-2, 2.33 GAA, 0.920 SV%). Vasilevskiy is arguably the best goaltender on the planet (though NYR’s Shesterkin is making a real push for that crown of late). It’s never a good feeling backing an Over when he’s in net, but I was comforted to see the Over is 21-21-1 in his starts. Not ideal but could be much worse.

$FML Verdict

If you read my analysis, I think you’ll agree there’s a lot to like about this bet!

If you skipped to the bottom — here’s the key point: We love the OVER!

$FML Pick

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TBL/WPG Over 6 Goals @ -110
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Top Player Prop Target: Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG)

I view tonight as the perfect time & price to buy-in on the 26-year-old.

After a hot start, he was recently forced to miss 19 games with a knee injury.  

In his return to the lineup last game, Ehlers picked up where he left off by scoring a goal vs. the hottest goaltender in NHL (Shesterkin of NYR).

Including that game, he now has at least 1 point (which includes goals + assists) in each of his last 8 home games. 3 of those games featured multiple points, and one was a mammoth 4-point game — which tied his career high.

He also has a solid track record vs. Tampa, averaging exactly a point per game across 10 career matchups. That, combined with the fact he scored in his return make me giddy to back Ehlers tonight at a very reasonable price to record a point

Note: If you can’t bet points, I recommend his goal scorer prop, which cashed in 6 of his last 8 home games now.

$FML Pick

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Nikolaj Ehlers Over 0.5 Points @ -115
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