NHL weekend betting preview: Maple Leafs to exploit Red Wings

Bruce Kluckhohn / National Hockey League / Getty

With 16 games over the next couple of days, we're heading for a busy weekend of hockey.

Let's dive into some of my favorite plays.

Wild (-125) @ Rangers (+105)
Jan. 28, 7 p.m. EST

This game is the headliner of tonight's schedule. It features two of the league's top eight teams in terms of points percentage, including a Rangers side that sits fourth in overall points.

However, it's not a side that appeals most to me. It's the total because I like the under. Igor Shesterkin was given the night off on Thursday, which means he's fresh and ready to go for this heavyweight clash. Goaltending is the best friend of unders - and nobody provides better than Shesterkin.

He owns a .937 save percentage and leads the NHL in goals saved above expectation, sitting at +23.4 through 26 games.

He has conceded two goals or fewer 16 times (62%) and given up more than three goals on just four occasions. Even in defeat, Shesterkin has a habit of limiting the damage dealt.

On the flip side of things, the Wild haven't been nearly as dangerous offensively away from home. At five-on-five, they sit 17th in goals per 60 and 22nd in expected goals per 60. They are average or below in both categories. Without the ability to get their stars in optimal matchups, I don't see them breaking this game open against Shesterkin.

While Cam Talbot is certainly not Shesterkin, he should be able to hold his own at the other end of the rink. He owns a respectable .910 save percentage and has performed at expectation based on the difficulty of his workload.

Don't expect fireworks in this contest.

Bet: Under 6 (-105)

Maple Leafs (-230) @ Red Wings (+185)
Jan. 29, 7 p.m. EST

The Maple Leafs are a well-oiled machine right now. They own a 7-2-1 record over the last 10 games despite ranking 31st in team save percentage at five-on-five during this stretch. They haven't gotten anything close to average goaltending, but it hasn't mattered as the wins continue to pile up.

I don't see that changing Saturday in Detroit. The Maple Leafs have controlled 59.44% of the high-danger chances over the last 10, which slots them fourth in the NHL. Winning the chance battle that dramatically makes any team dangerous - especially one with the firepower of Toronto.

The Red Wings sit at the other end of the totem pole. Their share of the high-danger chances (41.55%) over the last 10 ranks them ahead of only the Canadiens, Blue Jackets, and Sabres. Not ideal.

Opponents are taking it to the Red Wings in the chance department every night. The Leafs should have their way against a struggling team that will find itself in the latter half of a back-to-back.

Bet: Maple Leafs in regulation (-140)

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

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NHL weekend betting preview: Maple Leafs to exploit Red Wings
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