$FML's Best Bets - 10/24

Washington Capitals (3-3) at New Jersey Devils (3-2)

The Washington Capitals historically OWN my New Jersey Devils. They’re 10-0-1 in the last 11 head-to-head matchups. You wouldn’t know it, though, when looking at moneyline prices. The Devils opened around -125, but the price is tugging towards -140 at most books.

Here’s why I think the market leans New Jersey:

First is personnel related: the Capitals have elected to rest starting goalie Darcy Kuemper tonight in favor of backup Charlie Lindgren. He’s not bad, but he’s no Kuemper.

Second relates to advanced metrics: It’s early, so take this with a grain of salt, but New Jersey is dominating nearly every advanced stats category league-wide so far. They’ve yet to be truly tested, but early results are promising.

For example, they rank #2 in Shot Attempts For and Against per 60 minutes:

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Shot Attempts are important, but they’re only really predictive if they’re high-quality attempts. And in the case of New Jersey, their Shot Attempts are translating to a league-leading 17.0 High-Danger Scoring Chances (HDCF) per 60 minutes:

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The chart above also reveals they’re allowing the fewest High-Danger Chances per 60 minutes.

These two concepts (Shot Attempts and High-Danger Chances) combine to help explain why the Devils rank #1 in Expected Goals For and Against per 60 minutes. To reiterate, this is based on a small sample size, but to lead in both categories is somewhat rare and very impressive:

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Call me a biased Devils fan, but the stats speak for themselves. This team is playing with speed, dominating puck possession and suffocating opponents defensively.

What’s fascinating about these trends, though, is how the results aren’t pulling through (yet) in the goal scoring category. The Devils may lead the league in expected goals, but they rank #25 in actual goals scored. Comparing the two stats reveals they’re the only team in NHL that’s scoring less than 1 full goal vs. expected per 60 minutes this season. They’re truly on an island of their own in this stat:

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Meanwhile, Washington ranks middle-of-the-pack in nearly every metric discussed here. They’re also scoring more goals (3.2) than expected (2.9), which can be a sign that negative scoring regression is imminent. Effectively the opposite of the Devils.

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$FML's Best Bets:

All these things combine to help explain why New Jersey is favored on the ML tonight. As far as betting angles go, Devils Moneyline works, but I prefer to target the Team Shots on Goal market with my best bet. We’ve been gifted with what I view as an extremely low line for NJD in that market tonight, and I need all the action I can get on it.

As a complementary pick, I’m backing Devils’ captain Nico Hischier to record 3+ shots on net as he’s done in 3 of 4 games this season. Playing alongside two speedy playmakers in Jesper Bratt and Ondrej Palat has really benefited Hischier thus far. Bratt and Palat’s speed, puckhandling and vision help open up the ice and create chances for Hischier to record shots. New Jersey’s first line is absolutely buzzing right now, and I don’t see that train stopping on home ice tonight. Also supporting this pick is what I view as a favorable individual matchup vs. Ovechkin’s line for Washington. #8 may be an All-Time great goal scorer, but his skills in the defensive zone are seriously lacking.

$FML's Best Bets:

  • Win 1 Unit: Devils over 30.5 Team Shots on Goal (-112)
  • Risk 1 Unit: Nico Hischier over 2.5 Shots on Goal (+120)

Lines and odds available at Barstool Sportsbook at time of writing.

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