$FML's NHL Best Bet for Monday Night - 3/20

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@FastMoneyLabs’ Matchup Preview & Pick

Pittsburgh Penguins (34-25-10) vs. Ottawa Senators (33-31-5)

The Penguins are waddling on thin ice after dropping 3 straight contests by multiple goals. They’re clinging to the last playoff spot, but teams are breathing down their necks including tonight’s opponent. Ottawa skids into Pittsburgh having lost 5 straight games though, even worse than PIT. Taken together… Both sides are desperate for a W and willing to take risks.

Lifting the hood on these trends reveals both Offenses are flourishing, but Defense and Goaltending are floundering… especially lately for the visitors. Ottawa surrendered 5 or more goals in each of their last 5, and 4+ goals in 7 straight games. Tonight’s projected starter (rookie Mads Sogaard) leaked 4+ goals in 6 straight appearances and ranks 83rd in goals saved above expected (-0.385 per 60 minutes). Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry hasn’t fared much better, allowing 4+ goals in 5 of his last 7 appearances and ranking 70th in goals saved above expected (-0.162 per 60 minutes) for the season.

If goaltending issues persist, goals should fly, because… math. Both teams take tons of shots, and total goals = shots x save percentage.

Home/road splits also support the idea this will be a fast-paced match:

  • Pittsburgh ranks #2 in shots per 60 minutes in their last 10 home games; allow 6th most
  • Ottawa allows the 12th most shots in their last 10 road games; take 17th most

Taken together, these concepts point to value in the Game Total market, where the Over is:

  • 10-1 when Mads Sogaard starts for Ottawa
  • 10-2 in the last 12 Senators games overall
  • 19-14-1 in Pittsburgh home games
  • 1-4 in the last 5 Penguins games overall (tells me it’s due!)

Taking the simple game total Over 6.5 works, for my Best Bet: I bought down a goal (from 6.5 to 5.5) and added a twist via the 1st Period Market! Here’s why:

  • Pittsburgh ranks #1 in 1st period goal scoring at home this season (1.29/game)
  • Ottawa surrenders the 4th most 1P goals on the road (1.03/game)
  • Betting the Pens to score a 1P goal on home ice is 26-8 (76.5%) on the season and 17-3 (85%) in their last 20

Those percentages imply fair odds closer to -326 for PIT to score a 1P goal, well-below the -225 listed at FanDuel today! (7.5% discount). And if PIT gets the party started early, I like Ottawa’s chances to keep pace and push the game total Over 5.5! Strong value for the odds at -115, and I wagered accordingly! (to win 1 unit) If you’re feelin’ risky, consider tacking on some shots on goal picks! For example: Rakell, Stutzle, Batherson 2+ shots each gets the ticket to +259.

The Pick: PIT to Score 1P Goal & Over 5.5 (-115) via FanDuel

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