NHL Thursday best bets: Avalanche to cruise at home

Michael Martin / National Hockey League / Getty

Wednesday night was a pretty good one on the ice. We went 2-1 with our shot props while splitting the best bets. Since backing the Calgary Flames to win the opening frame came with juicy +135 odds, we turned a profit with both.

We'll look to build on that as we attack Thursday's slate with one side and three more player props.

Let's dive in.

Blues (+195) @ Avalanche (-240)

It took overtime for the Colorado Avalanche to prevail against the St. Louis Blues in Game 1, but don't let that fool you. The Avalanche were the far superior team from start to finish.

They did whatever they wanted with the puck, effortlessly splitting the Blues' defense on a shift-to-shift basis.

At five-on-five alone, the Avalanche generated 39 scoring chances and 3.73 expected goals. In comparison, they allowed 11 chances and 1.33 expected goals. It was not close.

If not for the four or five posts the Avalanche hit along the way or some painfully squandered chances - like when Erik Johnson had a wide-open net and got nothing on it, slow rolling it to Jordan Bennington - this could've easily been a multi-goal victory.

I think the Avalanche have edges across the board in this series and it showed. The Avs will not be happy sitting on their 1-0 lead and splitting heading into St. Louis. I expect them to come out with purpose once again and dominate the run of play.

With even a small fraction of extra puck luck, they should pick up a relatively sweat free win inside 60 minutes.

Bet: Avalanche in regulation (-145)

Sam Bennett over 2.5 shots (-167)

Death, taxes, and Sam Bennett at home. The gritty centerman has been a model of consistency in Florida this season, registering at least three shots in 31 of 40 games on home soil. That's a ridiculous 78% hit rate. While this line is a little juiced, the implied probability is still only 62% - that feels a little low.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have quietly been one of the worst teams in the playoffs at suppressing shots to centers. Sure, they've been facing some very good ones but it's not like that's going to change.

Bennett has averaged 6.3 shot attempts per game against the Lightning across four meetings thus far. That is more than enough volume to come through with three shots; especially considering Bennett's style of play. He's a hard-working player who fights his way to the net and generates shots from close range. He shouldn't miss too many of those.

Brayden Point's continued absence in Game 2 should help as well. That makes Tampa's middle-six a lot less potent, which gives the Panthers a better chance of dictating play.

Nazem Kadri over 3.5 shots (+110)

Kadri was an absolute monster in Game 1 of this series. He generated 13 shot attempts at five-on-five alone. Yes, you're reading that correctly. Playing at full strength against set defenses, Kadri still generated shots at will. He had 13 attempts, eight chances, and five shots on target in 17 minutes of five-on-five play.

Kadri is also a focal point on the power play, where he ranked second among Avalanche players in goals and first in scoring chances during the regular season.

I don't know if I'd expect that level of volume again in Game 2 but, quite frankly, Kadri shouldn't need it to find success. The matchups will remain very similar to what we saw in the opener and, clearly, Kadri is capable of taking advantage.

Look for him to pile up the shots once again.

Ryan O'Reilly over 2.5 shots (+110)

O'Reilly generally isn't much of a shooter. He has completely flipped the switch in the playoffs, though. The veteran pivot actually leads the Blues in goals - and high-danger chances - while slotting second on the team in shots on goal. He has 25 through seven games, which equates to 3.6 per contest.

Considering he's come through in five playoff games thus far and has 14 shots through three games against the Avalanche this year, there appears to be plenty of value in backing O'Reilly on Thursday night.

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

NHL Thursday best bets: Avalanche to cruise at home
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