Top Shelf Picks: Best NHL Bets Today (Panthers will take down Penguins in Pittsburgh)

Dec 8, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Nick Cousins (21) moves the puck against
Dec 8, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Nick Cousins (21) moves the puck against / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best ways to fix a cold streak is to tell people you're on a cold streak. That's what I did yesterday and I ended up putting together a solid night, going 2-1 including a +160 underdog winner on the Blue Jackets.

Let's see if we can somehow keep that momentum going today. It's a short slate of just four NHL games on Friday night, but I have picks locked in for three of them.

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Best NHL Bets Tonight

  • Panthers -130 vs. Penguins
  • Kings +126 vs. Avalanche
  • Kraken -160 vs. Blues

Panthers vs. Penguins prediction

The Florida Panthers, in my opinion, have been the best team in hockey over the past two months. Over their last 25 games, they're second in the NHL in both CORSI% and expected goals percentage. Most importantly, they have the best defense they've had in years, and are now first in expected goals against per 60 minutes of play over that time frame.

A lot of the Penguins advanced metrics have been better than their record indicates, but they have struggled to put the puck in the net. Over their last 25 games, they have a shooting percentage of just 8.73%, which ranks 27th in the NHL over that time frame.

If you're struggling to find the back of the net, it's going to be tough to score when you're playing a team that's going to limit high-danger scoring chances like the Panthers do. I'll back Florida at home.

Kings vs. Avalanche prediction

The Kings have stumbled in the 2024 calendar year, but I'm still bullish on this team. They're in the top five of the NHL in virtually every single metric, but have run into a shooting slump along with some bad luck. I expect them to bounce back in the coming weeks and that could start tonight as underdogs in Colorado.

One area the Kings have sustained is their penalty kill. They still sport the best penalty kill unit in the league with a PK% of 87.5%. That will play a huge role tonight when they face a seventh ranked power play unit in the Avalanche.

Blues vs. Kraken prediction

The St. Louis Blues may have a winning record at 24-20-1, but I truly think they're one of the worst teams with an above .500 record in the league. Over their last 25 games, they're 26th in adjusted 5-on-5 CORSI% and 29th in expected goal percentage.

They're one of my favorite fade candidates in the second half of the season and hitting the road against the Kraken seems like the right time to bet against them.

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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