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NHL Thursday best bets: Canucks to pounce on sitting Ducks

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Wednesday night was a great one for our best bets. All three plays - Maple Leafs -1.5, Auston Matthews over 4.5 shots, and Rasmus Dahlin over 2.5 shots - came through comfortably.

We'll look to keep the train rolling with two more plays for Thursday night's juicy slate.

Bruins (+105) @ Rangers (-125)

I am really high on this Bruins team. In fact, they were one of my best bets to win the Stanley Cup prior to the season.

Even though I think they have sky-high potential and are the hottest team in the NHL, I'm siding with the Rangers today.

They are quietly playing some fantastic hockey. New York has picked up points in six of its last eight games - two Jaroslav Halak starts being the exceptions - and consistently outplayed opponents during that stretch.

New York's share of five-on-five high-danger chances is just under 58% over the last eight, which is good for the fifth-highest in the NHL.

That makes them an extremely tough team to handle because they are also lethal on the man advantage.

While this Bruins team doesn't have a ton of flaws, they do have some. One of the big ones is an inability to stay out of the penalty box. Only five teams have spent more time shorthanded this season.

That spells trouble against a Rangers side that generates shots and expected goals on the power play at the highest rate in the league.

This handicap isn't just about the potential for real opportunity on the power play. New York's share of the high-danger chances is more than 7% higher than Boston's over the last eight games, and Igor Shesterkin should provide a real edge in goal.

Factor in the Rangers having home ice and the ability to control the matchups, and I like them to prevail in a battle between two of the Eastern Conference's best teams.

Bet: Rangers (-125)

Ducks (+150) @ Canucks (-175)

The Canucks have started this season in truly miserable fashion - sitting dead last in the league through 10 games - but there's reason to believe they are about to turn a corner, even if it's a small one.

They have won two of the last three games, and Quinn Hughes, one of their most valuable pieces, recently returned to the lineup. That's good news.

Their power play is heating up in a big way, too. They actually lead the league in goals per minute on the man advantage over the last eight games.

With a dangerous power play to fall back on, Hughes healthy again, and the addition of Ethan Bear to make the defense a little deeper, the Canucks should be able to string together wins at a higher clip moving forward.

I expect them to get on track Thursday night against a truly putrid Ducks team.

They are as inept as anybody defensively, allowing expected goals at a worse rate than everyone but the Flyers at five-on-five.

Each night, they put a ton of pressure on their goaltenders to perform and mask all of the team's issues. John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz haven't shown the ability to do that, having combined to allow 5.7 more goals than expected thus far.

I think Vancouver's stars - if not at even strength, then on the power play - will be able to muster up plenty of dangerous looks in this game and should convert at a good clip, given the goaltending we've seen from Anaheim.

Look for the Canucks to get their third win in four games - and in regulation, at that.

Bet: Canucks in regulation (-115)

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

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