NHL Friday best bets: Draisaitl, Bouchard to exploit Wild
It was an ugly night for player props. Despite mostly strong volume, the results weren't there Thursday. Jack Hughes attempted 10 shots and hit the net four times, falling one short. Cam Atkinson also came up one shot shy against the Coyotes, and Quinn Hughes hit the target just once on six attempts. Close, yet so far.
We'll look to rebound with a few plays for Friday night's three-game slate.
Pavel Buchnevich: Over 2.5 shots
Buchnevich is a road warrior. He's gone over his shot total 10 times in 14 tries (71%), an impressive success rate. That's drastically better than his home outputs, where he's averaged only 3.6 attempts per game and posted a 33% success rate.
He has a juicy matchup Friday against the struggling Blue Jackets. They've won just eight times through 28 games, largely because they can't defend.
Columbus has conceded 33.6 shots per contest this season. That's a bottom-five rate in the NHL, and the team has shown no signs of improvement in recent weeks.
The Jackets also give up a lot of volume to opposing left-wingers. Only three clubs have allowed more shots per game to the position over the last 10 contests.
In a back-to-back situation against a Columbus squad looking to rebound following an ugly defeat, I expect St. Louis to put up a ton of shots in this game. A few should come off the stick of Buchnevich, who skates on the top line and first power-play unit.
Odds: +120 (playable to -115)
Leon Draisaitl: Over 2.5 shots
Draisaitl is a pretty inconsistent shooter who lives and dies by the power play. He ranks seventh among Oilers skaters in shot attempts and shots on goal at five-on-five. It's a completely different story on the man advantage, where getting him the puck in a good shooting position is the team's top priority.
Draisaitl is 16 shot attempts clear of Evan Bouchard for the team lead on the man advantage. He ranks in the top 10 in the NHL in shot attempts per minute on the power play. That's where a ton of his volume comes from.
That means the special teams matchup is one of the most important things to look at when considering Draisaitl. Luckily enough, he has a great one Friday.
The Wild rank dead last in penalty-kill percentage this season. They also take more penalties than almost everybody, with only six teams averaging more minors per game.
Draisaitl should get ample opportunity to work on the power play against a club that struggles mightily while undermanned.
Odds: -140 (playable to -160)
Evan Bouchard: Over 0.5 power-play points
A lot of what I said in Draisaitl's handicap can be applied to Bouchard. The Wild are one of the most undisciplined teams in the league and have struggled miserably to kill penalties.
Minnesota has improved its ability to cut down on chances under new head coach John Hynes, but the club still takes too many penalties.
But I don't care how good your penalty kill is; a price will likely be paid if you're giving up opportunities in bulk to Connor McDavid, Draisaitl, and Co.
Bouchard is a fantastic power-play quarterback and continues to be ultra-efficient. Only Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes - the two favorites to win the Norris Trophy - have piled up more power-play points among defensemen.
This is a good spot for Bouchard to build on his success.
Odds: +145 (playable to +130)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @ToddCordell.