NHL Thursday best bets: Back the Kraken at home

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Wednesday was a good night on the ice. We successfully backed the Oilers to win in regulation and the Blue Jackets to upset the injury-plagued Avalanche, even if the Blackhawks blew it in the third period to prevent us from going undefeated.

It was especially successful if you followed through on me leaning towards the Kings and the under of 5.5 goals, but I personally passed as I wanted Cal Petersen.

Thursday night offers us a jam-packed schedule to pick through. Let's get to our best bets.

Sabres (+155) @ Kraken (-175)

Remember when the Sabres were good for a week or two? Unsurprisingly, they've come crashing down to earth and are now playing to their true talent level. That's ... not good.

Buffalo ranks 30th in Corsi For percentage and only the Golden Knights, sans half of their roster, have controlled a smaller share of the five-on-five scoring chances over the last five games. The Sabres are getting absolutely cratered on a shift-by-shift basis and they don't have the talent or goaltending to keep themselves afloat when that happens.

While the Kraken have won just three of 10 games thus far, they're playing better than their results indicate. Seattle is finally starting to get healthy and it's making a big difference. The team has controlled better than 60% of the expected goals over their last five games, which ranks best in the NHL by a comfortable margin.

The Kraken have just been on the wrong end of a couple of goaltending performances recently. Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin turned a dominant effort by Seattle into zero points, despite the club leading the high-danger chances 16-5 against New York. Joey Daccord started the following night for the Kraken because Chris Driedger was unavailable, and he conceded five goals on just 23 shots against the Oilers.

We probably don't have to worry about the Sabres' Craig Anderson or Dustin Tokarski stealing a game from Seattle - and with Driedger back in the mix, we can be comfortable with whoever the Kraken elect to start in goal.

I expect Seattle to dominate the run of play and get back on track with a clean home win against Buffalo.

Bet: Kraken in regulation (-115)

Golden Knights (-125) @ Senators (+105)

We've picked on the Golden Knights a lot as of late, and we're going right back to the well today.

All of the reasons we've targeted them in past games still apply. In fact, they're even shorter on players than in previous showings.

Peyton Krebs was playing regularly for Vegas, but he's no longer in the mix following this morning's trade to Buffalo for Jack Eichel. Krebs isn't a difference-maker, but he was a legitimate NHL player on a team short of them. Vegas lost Krebs on top of already playing without Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch (also traded), and Zach Whitecloud. That stings.

It's difficult to put into words just how much these injuries have sucked the life out of this team. The Golden Knights are perennially one of the best five-on-five sides in the NHL. Right now, they're one of the worst.

Their season numbers are bad and they're actually trending further downward. No team has controlled a lesser share of the chances over the last five games and they've allowed chances at a higher rate than anyone (36 per 60).

While the Senators are still a flawed team, they are competent. Their top line is playing well, and scratching Nikita Zaitsev should be an addition by subtraction on the back end.

Filip Gustavsson is starting and has been Ottawa's best goaltender in terms of Goals Saved Above Expectation, being the only Senators goalie with a positive number in that metric.

I like rolling the dice with Ottawa at plus money.

Bonus round: Keep your eye on the Sharks (+110). If San Jose gets some bodies back from COVID-19 protocol and/or Jordan Binnington gets the night off, it will be a worthwhile play.

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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NHL Thursday best bets: Back the Kraken at home
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