Top Shelf Picks: Best NHL Bets Today (Fade the Maple Leafs At All Costs)

BetSided's Iain MacMillan breaks down his favorite bets in the NHL for the action on Tuesday, Jan. 2.

Dec 30, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) gestures as he
Dec 30, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) gestures as he / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After nailing my bet for yesterday's Winter Classic, I'm officially 1-0 with my NHL bets in 2024. Let's go ahead and leave 2023 behind us and focus on the new year.

The rest of the NHL returns to action today for a loaded slate and I have three bets locked in for tonight's games including a fade of my beloved Maple Leafs, who have been unbelievably frustrating to watch the past month.

If you want to tail (or fade) these plays, you should place your bets at Caesars Sportsbook. If you click the link below to sign up for an account, Caesars will cover your first bet up to $1,000!

Bet on the NHL at Caesars today!

Top NHL Picks Today

  • Penguins -170 vs. Capitals
  • Kings -130 vs. Maple Leafs
  • Red Wings/Sharks UNDER 6.5 (+110)

Capitals vs. Penguins prediction

If I were to do an NHL "fraud" rankings this week, the Washington Capitals would be near the top. You'd think they were at least a decent team with a record of 17-11-6, but from an analytics perspective, they're pure trash.

If you take a look at adjusted 5-on-5 numbers over their last 25 games, they're 30th in CORSI% with only the Blackhawks and Sharks ranking worse, as well as 28th in expected goal percentage. To answer your question, no, things don't get any better on special teams. They have the third worst powerplay unit this season, scoring just 11.46% of the time they have a man advantage.

It's time to sell all your Capitals stock and bet against them until further notice.

Pick: Penguins -170

Maple Leafs vs. Kings prediction

In my opinion, the Kings have been the best team in the NHL through the first half of the season. In their last 25 games, they're either first or second in CORSI%, FENWICK%, expected goals percentage, and high-danger scoring chances percentage during adjusted 5-on-5 play. They also have the number one penalty kill unit in the NHL.

Then there's the Maple Leafs, who might be the worst edition of this team in the past five years. They have no goaltending, their offense is horrific, and Sheldon Keefe continues to be a horrible coach that has zero imagination when it comes to line combinations and offensive zone entries.

This might be my favorite bet of the entire season.

Pick: Kings -130

Red Wings vs. Sharks prediction

Sure, the defense for these two teams are amongst the worst in the NHL, but I'd argue their offenses are even worse than that. Over their last 25 games, the Red Wings and Sharks rank 30th and 31st in adjusted 5-on-5 expected goals per game. They also average the second fewest and third fewest high-danger scoring chances per game.

I have no faith either offense can score in this game and I'm surprised we're getting plus-money on the UNDER with the total set at 6.5.

Pick: UNDER 6.5 (+110)

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

You can check out all of Iain's bets here!