To be clear, I’ve never been this cold in my handicapping life.
It was another 0-2 night last night, and once again in comical fashion.
The Predators led 1-0 midway through the third, but a bank shot from the Blackhawks tied the game and despite a wealth of go-ahead chances — including a power play — late in the period, the Preds inability to finish cost us and our 3-way moneyline pick lost in a 2-1 Preds shootout win.
We also had the Over 6.5 in Vancouver between the Sens and Canucks. Vancouver scored five in that one, but Ottawa being able to score just once on 43 shots cost us and despite needing just two third-period goals, we got only one in a 5-1 Canucks win.
I mean, we stuck to the research and we’re just not getting the bounces right now, literally.
Let’s not give up and keep trudging forward on this huge 14-game schedule, beginning with a Flyers vs. Devils NHL pick from New Jersey!
- Season Record: 6-12
- Units: -7.15
Flyers vs. Devils Betting Odds
- Flyers (-166)
- Devils (+150)
- Flyers -1.5 (+151)
- Devils +1.5 (-171)
- Over 5.5 (-123)
- Under 5.5 (+112)
Flyers vs. Devils NHL Pick Breakdown
It’s been a fine start to the season from an offensive standpoint for these Flyers as they sit tied with the Colorado Avalanche for sixth with 3.57 goals per game and are coming off a five-goal effort in a 5-3 win over the Devils on Tuesday night, pouring it on late in that one.
The Flyers are without top-line center Sean Couturier at the moment, but the Flyers are getting the job done on their depth as they sport one of the deepest forward groups in the league.
Helping their cause as been the play of 2017 No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick. If you remember, Patrick missed all of last season while dealing with a migraine disorder, but has taken over the top-line center role and produced five points in seven games in the process. Add in some production from James van Riemsdyk, Joel Farabee and Oskar Lindblom in the middle-six and it’s been a difficult Flyers offense to contain in the early going
Their power play has been excellent at 29.2% on the season, but their 5v5 numbers lagged, however.
At 5v5 this season, the Flyers rank 27th in scoring chances for/60, 22nd in high-danger chances for/60 and 26th in expected goals for/60, as per Natural Stat Trick. It would appear they have benefited from an outrageous 34.15% high-danger shooting rate — highest in the league — as well as their fourth-ranked overall 5v5 shooting rate.
While the peripherals are down on this Flyers offense, the depth is going to be tough for this Devils team to contain again in this one.
The Flyers lost a reliable top-four defender in Matt Niskanen to retirement in the offseason, and I figured that loss would be larger than most would expect.
That’s been the case so far as the Flyers rank 25th with 3.43 goals against per game on the season and their penalty kill has done them zero favors in posting a 29th-ranked 65.2% mark.
It appears they have more or less been that poor this season. The Flyers rank 23rd in scoring chances against/60, 20th in high-danger chances against/60 and 23rd in expected goals against/60 this season.
It’s not helping matters that Philippe Myers is out at the moment, something that has thrust rookie Mark Friedman into action with just 10 NHL games under his belt to this point.
The Flyers have a pair of defenders to hang their hats on in Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim in their top four, but otherwise it’s certainly a weakened group without Niskanen and now Myers.
With 14 goals against over their last three games, the Flyers certainly aren’t entering this one with much confidence when it comes to that back end.
It’s been a tale of two goaltenders so far for the Flyers. Brian Elliott has been stellar in working to a 1.98 GAA and .938 Sv% in his two starts and three appearances on the season while youngster Carter Hart has struggled mightily in posting a 4.18 GAA and .880 Sv% in his five starts.
After Elliott earned the win on Tuesday, it looks like the Flyers are going back to Hart in the hope he can iron out the kinks in this one.
His season started on the right note in back-to-back wins over the Penguins while allowing just five goals between those two contests, but has since allowed 14 goals over his last three starts and posted an .846 Sv% in the process.
Hart struggled mightily on the road last season and while he’s also struggled at home this time around, his work on the road has been putrid to the tune of a 4.80 GAA and .855 Sv% in two outings. It’s a small sample but he’s certainly not been able to get his splits turned around in the early stages of the season.
Of course, Hart will find his game at some point. At 22, he’s posted a 2.69 GAA and .913 Sv% across 79 career NHL appearances and worked to a 2.42 GAA and .914 Sv% last season.
There are plenty of netminders that have endured early-season struggles across the league, but Hart is in need of a confidence-builder sooner than later.
The Devils are off to a rather solid start at 3-2-1 on the season in the difficult East Division, but it’s not because of their offense.
The Devils currently sit 26th with only 2.33 goals per game on the season and their power play has clicked at just 14.3% in the early going. They managed three their last time out versus these Flyers on Tuesday, but have scored just six goals over their last three games and have scored more than two goals in just two of six games so far.
Their advanced metrics support the tough offensive start. At 5v5, the Devils rank 19th in scoring chances for/60, 24th in high-danger chances for/60 and 16th in expected goals for/60. Their actual 2.31 goals for/60 at 5v5 this season is actually higher than their 2.18 mark, so you can see they’ve actually scored a little more at even strength than they should have.
At the end of the day, we knew this offense would be in tough. Jack Hughes enjoyed a nice start to his sophomore season, but other than Hughes, Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier, it’s a paper-thin group up front while their biggest offseason addition in Andreas Johnsson has just one assist in six games.
Keep in mind these Devils team also ranks third with a huge 31.03% high-danger shooting rate, so like the Flyers, they will see regression in that department moving forward.
It’s been a fine start to the season for the Devils on the back end as they are tied for eighth with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 2.50 goals against per game on the season. That said, there is regression written all over this group.
At 5v5, the Devils also rank 22nd in scoring chance against/60, dead last in high-danger chances against/60 and 25th in expected goals against/60. Additionally, they’ve actually allowed 1.05 goals against/60 at 5v5 this season, less than half of their 2.42 expected mark. In other words, this team is going to give up far more offense at even strength moving forward.
Furthermore, they’ve already been terrible at killing penalties with a 652% mark that interestingly ties these Flyers for the second-lowest figure in the NHL.
Again, this was to be expected. The Devils added the oft-injured Ryan Murray in a low-risk move from the Columbus Blue Jackets, signed veteran Dmitry Kulikov and promoted prospect Ty Smith into a full-time role in the top-six.
Smith’s presence has been felt, especially on offense, but these aren’t ground-breaking moves that were ever going to turn New Jersey into a defensive stalwart. It remains one of the weaker back ends from a personnel standpoint while the numbers suggest monstrous regression from their surface defensive numbers
What gives for the difference between the Devils actual goals against and their expected mark? Goaltending. More specifically, Mackenzie Blackwood.
Blackwood was elite in posting a 1.90 GAA and .948 Sv% in his three starts on the season and has helped power the Devils to a league-high .922 Sv% on high-danger scoring chances and a eye-popping .967 Sv% at 5v5 this season.
However, Blackwood is currently in league protocol at the moment, and backup Scott Wedgewood is the likely starter again tonight.
Wedgewood began his 2021 campaign by allowing four goals followed by a shutout over a two-game set with an anemic New York Islanders offense, but was victimized for five goals in Tuesday’ loss to these Flyers.
The 28-year-old is the owner of a career 3.01 GAA and .905 Sv% in 27 NHL appearances, but also posted a poor 3.01 GAA and .893 Sv% while appearing in 26 games for the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch where he spent all of the 2019-20 season.
Blackwood, like Hart, is one of the game’s best young goaltenders, but the goaltending picture regresses a whole lot with Wedgewood in another tough matchup tonight.
Flyers vs. Devils NHL Pick
The Devils have been the luckiest defensive team in the NHL this season, largely due to goaltending from Blackwood. They are going to give up far more offenses at even strength moving forward and their penalty killing already stinks.
Now, the Flyers’ advanced metrics aren’t much better as they’ve been fortunate to score as much as they have, but terrible goaltending from Hart has been a big issue as well.
Still, we’re at two ends of the regression spectrum here. Hart is set to regress positively and a matchup with a weak Devils offense should cure what ails him. On the flip side, the Devils will give up many more goals moving forward as they are set for plenty of negative regression.
I’m not laying the juice on the moneyline, but I’ll happily take the Flyers on the 3-way moneyline at valuable +100 odds in a game they should absolutely have in regulation time tonight.