Top Shelf Picks: Best NHL Bets Today (Kings Win Big vs. Red Wings)

The Los Angeles Kings have established themselves as the best team in the NHL.

Dec 30, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Quinton Byfield (55) moves
Dec 30, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Quinton Byfield (55) moves / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

We split my picks last night, cashing in on the Devils but lost out OVER bet between the Maple Leafs and Ducks because Lukas Dostal decided to have the game of his career and stop 55-of-57 shots against him.

We move on to a loaded Thursday night slate and I have four bets for the action so let's not waste any time and jump right into it.

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NHL Picks Today

  • Sabres -135 vs. Canadiens
  • Avalanche vs. Stars UNDER 6.5 (-110)
  • Islanders vs. Coyotes OVER 5.5 (-134)
  • Kings -1.5 (+128) vs. Red Wings

Sabres vs. Canadiens prediction

Despite the Canadiens being above the Sabres in the standings, Buffalo is the better hockey team and the metrics would back that motion up. In fact, the Canadiens rank inside the bottom five in the NHL in a handful of areas. For example, they're 28th in 5-on-5 CORSI% over their last 25 games and 29th in adjusted 5-on-5 expected goals percentage.

The Sabres are 15th and 20th in those two respective stats.

The Canadiens have also been abysmal when killing penalties, allowing teams to score on 27.2% of their powerplay opportunities against them. That's the second worst mark in the NHL.

I'll back the Sabres as road favorites.

Avalanche vs. Stars prediction

The Avalanche have turned into a defense-first team this season, ranking near the top in defensive metrics but sport largely average offensive metrics. Now, they hit the road to take on one of the best defensive teams in the NHL in the Stars.

The Stars lead the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes of adjusted 5-on-5 play over their last 25 games at 2.08 while ranking just 20th in expected goals for over that same time frame. They're an UNDER bettors dream from an advanced metrics standpoint, but subpar goaltending and sharpshooting has caused the OVER to go 23-13 in their games so far this season.

It's time to invest in UNDERs in games involving the Stars moving forward because the underlying numbers show me we'll see major regression from them in terms of goals scored and major positive regression in terms of goals allowed.

Islanders vs. Coyotes prediction

Take what I said about the Stars and apply the complete opposite to the Islanders. Despite generally being a team that plays in lower scoring games, it's been due to subpar shooting and great goaltending. Meanwhile, the advanced metrics show there should be plenty of goals scored in their games.

The Islanders rank inside the top 10 in both expected goals for and high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes of adjusted 5-on-5 play while also ranking 29th in adjusted 5-on-5 expected goals against.

With the total still set at 5.5 at FanDuel, I'll go ahead and take the OVER.

Red Wings vs. Kings prediction

I've been claiming the Kings are the best team in the NHL for a few weeks now and tonight they get a chance to take on a Red Wings team that is one of the worst, at least from an analytics perspective.

Over the last 25 games, the Red Wings are 29th in CORSI%, 29th in FENWICK%, and 24th in expected goals percentage per 60 minutes of adjusted 5-on-5 play. The Kings are 2nd, 1st, and 1st in those three metrics over that time frame.

With the Kings at home tonight, I envision them dominating the traveling Red Wings.

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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