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NHL weekend betting guide: Midseason bets! Bets! Bets!

Mark LoMoglio / National Hockey League / Getty

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"It's Friday, and all I want to do is dance, dance, dance." - Craig Kilborn, "The Late Late Show" (1999-2004).

The "SportsCenter" host turned late-night entertainer used to send viewers into the weekend at peak vibes. Twenty years later, all anybody in this space wants to do amidst the dog days of February in the NHL is bet, bet, bet.

Thursday's results opened up the opportunity for a handful of wagers worth making (at widely available prices) in the futures market before the stretch run of the season.

Division winner

Metropolitan Division: Hurricanes (+150)

The even-strength metrics love the Hurricanes. Surprise!

Carolina is one of three teams with a better than 55% rate of expected goals and high-danger chance share at even strength. Meanwhile, the Rangers add up to a league-average team by those two metrics.

What's bought the Blueshirts a lead in the Metropolitan Division has been Jonathan Quick's resurgence, saving a season in which Igor Shesterkin has struggled. The Rangers' incumbent hasn't shown much improvement in the new year, with a GSAx of minus-5.37 in 2024, and I'm willing to bet against the Rangers shifting more starts Quick's way and have that work out well.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes need only slightly better-than-average goaltending to kick their results into high gear. That's exactly what they've gotten recently, losing just four times in regulation since Jan. 1, including an epic shutout performance by Pyotr Kochetkov against the Panthers on Thursday.

To make playoffs

Red Wings: No (+200)

Here are the worst teams in expected goals share this year:

  • 32. Blackhawks (40.6%)
  • 31. Sharks (42%)
  • 30. Red Wings (45.5%)

Alex Lyon and James Reimer have combined to save 10-plus goals above expected, which is even more surprising than the Red Wings sitting in a playoff spot with those even-strength metrics. Throw in an unsustainable 15.3% high-danger conversion rate, and Detroit could get overtaken by either the Devils or Islanders - two teams that should be primed for a good closing kick.

Wild: Yes (+400)

While there's no glaringly valuable team on the outside looking in to make the playoffs in the East, the Wild (available for as long as +400) are an easy pick to usurp the Blues for the West's final playoff spot. This also acts as a fade of the Predators, who don't have the goaltending or scoring efficiency to warrant odds shorter than +200.

Regular-season point totals

Blues: Under 88.5 (-130)

The team right behind the Red Wings for fourth-worst in XG% at even strength is the Blues. And they're even worse at preventing high-danger chances (third-most allowed).

Jordan Binnington (plus-17.87 GSAx) can't stand on his head forever. And when he goes back to his pre-New Year's Day level (plus-1.21 GSAx), St. Louis will fall off this prescribed pace, back to the mid-80s - where it was projected before the season. So little is expected from the Blues that they won on Thursday, and their regular-season point total came down from 89.5 to 88.5.

Kings: Over 100.5 (-115)

Speaking of preseason projections, the Kings are back to theirs at 100.5. Amazingly, a 2-14 stretch didn't derail their season, and their metrics haven't wavered. Ten of their final 27 games are against teams currently in a playoff spot, so 35 points out of 54 available is very doable. If L.A. gets super-hot, 14 points back, with four games against the Canucks and four more in hand, a Pacific Division run isn't out of the question, especially at +1800.

The cheat sheet

The dirty little secret in the betting world is that, while there are no bad bets at the right price, the discovery process of what a good price looks like is hidden.

Each week, we balance market information from regular-season point totals and in-season advanced metrics - with an even-strength focus - to determine the win probability for each team and the moneyline needed to bet on either side. The idea is to remove the cognitive bias of win-loss records, which can be skewed by outliers like special-team results, poor goaltending performances, and other unreliable events.

You can use whatever parameters you like to decide how much of an edge you need to trigger a bet, but here are mine:

  • True line favorite of -111 or longer: 1%
  • True line between -110 and +110: 2.5%
  • True line underdog of +111 or longer: 4%

I also have a 5% win probability consideration for a team playing in the second game of a back-to-back with travel and a 3% consideration for the second leg of a home back-to-back. When it comes to injured players, an estimation is made on the player's impact on their team's win probability.

When the betting markets open up the night before, you can compare those prices with our "price to bet" column to see if you're getting any value with either side's moneyline. There's a possibility that a moneyline moves into a bet-friendly range at some point between the market opening and puck drop.

Feb. 23 BUF@CBJ 58.5/41.5 BUF -135/CBJ +167
WPG@CHI 61.6/38.4 WPG -154/CHI +191
MIN@EDM 35.9/64.1 MIN +214/EDM -171
Feb. 24 STL@DET 45.6/54.4 STL +140/DET -115
TB@NYI 48.3/51.7 TB +118/NYI +103
MTL@NJD 28.1/71.9 MTL +315/NJD -243
NYR@PHI 57.2/42.8 NYR -128/PHI +158
WSH@FLA 33.4/66.6 WSH +240/FLA -191
BOS@VAN 51.8/48.2 BOS +103/VAN +119
TOR@COL 45.5/54.5 TOR +141/COL -115
VGK@OTT 46.8/53.2 VGK +134/OTT -109
DAL@CAR 44.5/55.5 DAL +147/CAR -120
NSH@SJS 64.5/35.5 NSH -174/SJS +217
MIN@SEA 42.3/57.7 MIN +161/SEA -131
CGY@EDM 38.4/61.6 CGY +190/EDM -154
ANA@LAK 23.2/76.8 ANA +421/LAK -313
Feb. 25 TB@NJD 41.9/58.1 TB +164/NJD -133
PHI@PIT 27.6/72.4 PHI +324/PIT -250
CAR@BUF 51.9/48.1 CAR +102/BUF +119
DET@CHI 50.3/49.7 DET +109/CHI +112
ARI@WPG 36.4/63.6 ARI +208/WPG -167
NYR@CBJ 58.7/41.3 NYR -136/CBJ +168
NSH@ANA 53.6/46.4 NSH -111/ANA +136

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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