NHL Thursday best bets: Running with the Devils
We have a juicy 11-game slate ahead of us on a busy Thursday night in the NHL. Let's take a closer look at a few of my favorite plays on the board.
The Devils are playing top-tier hockey at five-on-five right now. They've controlled well above 58% of the high-danger chances over the past 10 games, which slots them third in the NHL.
With a stacked top six featuring Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Timo Meier, and Jesper Bratt, New Jersey will be awfully dangerous when getting the bulk of the chances.
That should prove to be the case again Thursday. The Rangers are a very good finishing team that can consistently make the most of the opportunities they get. However, they're not great at carving out an even share against an average opponent, so I imagine a team like the Devils could have a greater edge.
We've certainly seen that this season. Through three head-to-head meetings, New Jersey has won the chance battle by a whopping 28 at five-on-five. Even with Igor Shesterkin between the pipes, that's bound to be problematic.
The Devils won two of the three games against the Rangers thus far, causing New York a world of problems with their speed. New Jersey's recent acquisition of Meier only adds to it, not to mention the power and finishing ability he also brings to the table.
I expect New Jersey's dynamic group of forwards and relentless attacking style to give the Rangers all kinds of problems in this spot, especially if underrated defenseman Ryan Lindgren remains out of the lineup.
Back the Devils to return to the win column in what should be an exciting and emotional game.
Bet: Devils (-135)
Martin Necas over 2.5 shots (-120)
Necas is an absolute machine on the road. Even without Andrei Svechnikov in the lineup and the additional opportunity that comes with his absence, we haven't seen any change in Necas' success at home. He remains underwhelming in Carolina (42% hit rate) and a monster away from his own rink (71% hit rate).
He's gone over this number in seven of his past 10 road dates, including against the Stars, Golden Knights, and Rangers. Those three teams are a lot better than the Red Wings, but they play similarly slow styles. That Necas excelled against them bodes well for his chances of success in this spot.
Necas' volume continues to be rock solid for a 2.5 line, as he averaged 6.3 shot attempts over the past 10 road games. That's a drastic difference from the 3.8 attempts he's put up per night in Carolina.
Expect an active offensive night from Necas in Detroit.
Jason Zucker over 2.5 shots (-140)
Volume is king in the shot prop world, and Zucker has it in spades right now. He's registered three shots or more in nine of his past 10 contests, averaging a whopping 6.6 attempts per game. That's a huge step up from the rate we've previously seen from him this season (4.5).
The Penguins have found a way to tilt the ice further in their favor and generate an unmatched amount of shots over the past 10 contests. Clearly, Zucker has been the prime beneficiary.
Although Zucker doesn't see much power-play time, the five-on-five matchup is very juicy, and that's what matters most to his shooting ceiling. At full strength, the Predators rank 25th in shots against per 60 minutes over the past 10 games. I don't love Nashville's chances of slowing down the best shot-generating team in the league over that period.
Look for Zucker to take advantage.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.