Another light Wednesday night in the NHL, and there’s really only one marquee game on the docket – Boston against Minnesota. I think the spread is about right in that matchup, so we won’t have a play there, but we’ve got not just one, but two rare overs on tap.
Usually the uncertainty around goaltending until the last possible second and the unpredictability of empty net goals cause me to stay away from totals, but there are two golden opportunities to pounce on overs tonight. Let’s take a look.
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New Jersey Devils vs. Calgary Flames Over 6 (+100; Caesars)
I prefer over 6 at even money, but if you’d rather play over 5.5 at around -130, that’s fine too.
If you look at the entirety of the Devils’ season, their offensive numbers are anything but inspiring. They’re averaging an even 3.0 goals per game, good for 17th in the league, but their climb from 25th to 17th is thanks to a recent surge that started right at the beginning of February, which was coincidentally the first time they were able to field a full lineup featuring all their top players this season.
Those top players – Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, and Dougie Hamilton – will all be in the lineup in Calgary tonight, and since they joined forces on the ice, the Devils have scored the third-most goals in the entire NHL (4.2 per game). Hischier, New Jersey’s captain and second-line center, has missed the last three for New Jersey, and in that span, they’ve regressed back down to their season average of three goals per game. In fact, they scored just four combined goals in their last two games without their leader. But Hischier is back, and he allows the Devils to push players like Tomas Tatar and Andreas Johnsson down to the third line to fill out the lineup in a more complete way.
Jack Hughes’ 2022 Season:
– 37 and a half games
– 18 Goals
– 26 Assists
– 44 Points (1st Among U21)
– 32 Even Strength Points
– 2.95 xGF% (3rd Best Among U21)
Where is everyone that called him a bust three years ago now? pic.twitter.com/ScPGQAPGHW
— Nathan “Grav” (@NathanGraviteh) March 11, 2022
The Flames also excel at putting the puck in the net; their 3.4 goals per game is sixth-most in the NHL and their 55.5% xGF% is second-best. The biggest reason why the over is a great play here is because these two teams are the best in the NHL at generating high-danger chances, and that’s not hyperbole. The Devils rank first in the league at 56.5% and the Flames are right behind them at 56.4%.
New Jersey is also 7-3 towards the over in their last 10 games, so they’re not just scoring on their own, they’re playing in up-and-down shootouts. These two teams also met all the way back in October in New Jersey, a game Calgary won 5-3. I expect more of the same firewagon style of hockey between a Devils team who has absolutely nothing to lose and tons of experience and growth to gain and a Flames team who can’t let two points slip away against an opponent towards the bottom of the standings.
Pick: Over 6 (+100: Caesars)
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Ottawa Senators Over 6.5 (+100: DraftKings)
This is the highest total on the board, but I would play it down to -115. Neither of these teams are making the playoffs, so I expect a much more up-tempo game with the players taking a ton of chances to try to generate offense.
Let’s start with Columbus. The over is an incredible 37-20-3 in Blue Jackets games this season, and they’re not just notching overs into empty nets during their recent stretch of offense. Overs are absolutely soaring over the total. In Columbus’ last 20 games, the over has hit 17 times and in 13 of those 17 games, the over has hit by more than a half-goal. Their goaltenders aren’t stopping pucks, but perhaps even more inspiring is how well their best player, Patrik Laine, has played to help fuel the offense.
Laine has 23 goals on the year, and 17 of them have come since January 30th. The Blue Jackets production seemingly goes as he does, as the team is averaging nearly a full goal per game more since January 30th than they were prior.
As for Ottawa, they’re going to be motivated to put one in the win column during this homestand since they haven’t done so yet, but it’s not going to be easy if they play as poorly as they have in the first two games of the run at home. They’ve dropped games to both Arizona and Chicago, two teams pinned to the bottom of the NHL standings, and have allowed 11 goals in the two games combined. The over has hit in each of the last three Senators games, and in four of the last six overall.
I expect the offense to continue for both teams, especially if they continue to generate scoring chances at the rate they’ve been of late. Columbus ranks 21st in scoring chance save percentage on the year, and Ottawa is even worse, coming in at 29th. Looks for goals early and often in this battle north of the border.
Pick: Over 6.5 (+100: DraftKings)
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