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NHL best bets
NHL best bets

Thursday brings an 11-game schedule to the National Hockey League, with many having playoff implications. Read on for our NHL best bets for Thursday based on the best NHL odds.

With four matchups involving playoff teams on both sides, plus another handful of games involving teams that are still in the playoff hunt, there are significant stakes at play Thursday.

In one of the night's most compelling contests, the Dallas Stars continue their road trip with a stop against the Edmonton Oilers. Dallas has a 7-2-1 record in its past 10 games, just enough to maintain top spot in the Central Division. The Stars have 87 points in 68 games, one ahead of the Minnesota Wild. 

The Oilers are 16-5-5 in their past 26 matchups, and sit in the Pacific Division's third place, one point ahead of the Seattle Kraken, though Edmonton played one more game. Hart Trophy odds favorite Connor McDavid is running away with the scoring race, putting up 129 points in 68 games, a 29-point lead over teammate Leon Draisaitl.

The tightness of the playoff races does add importance to several games Thursday, including the Stars and Oilers.

Here are our best NHL picks for Thursday (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, Caesars SportsbookBetMGM, and PointsBet; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Check out our NHL picks.  

Thursday’s NHL schedule and odds

(odds via DraftKings)

  • Montreal Canadiens (+275) vs. Florida Panthers (-330)
  • Colorado Avalanche (-130) vs. Ottawa Senators (+110)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (+115) vs. New York Rangers (-135)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (+110) vs. New Jersey Devils (-130)
  • Chicago Blackhawks (+215) vs. Nashville Predators (-255)
  • Boston Bruins (-155) vs. Winnipeg Jets (+135)
  • Dallas Stars (+115) vs. Edmonton Oilers (-135)
  • Calgary Flames (-105) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (-115)
  • Vancouver Canucks (-145) vs. Arizona Coyotes (+125)
  • Seattle Kraken (-170) vs. San Jose Sharks (+145)
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (+235) vs. Los Angeles Kings (-280)

Thursday’s NHL best bets

  • Moneyline: Flames (-105 via DraftKings) vs. Golden Knights ⭐⭐⭐
  • Spread: Kings -1.5 (-115 via FanDuel) vs. Blue Jackets  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Total: Bruins-Jets Over 6 (-120 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
  • Prop: Eeli Tolvanen anytime goal (+250 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday’s NHL top picks

Moneyline: Flames (-105 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐

The Calgary Flames are not easy to trust but remain in the playoff hunt. With a 3-1-1 record in their past five contests, the Flames have 74 points in 68 games, leaving them 5 points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the Western Conference's second wild-card spot.

Calgary left a lot of points on the table, going 6-14 in games decided after 60 minutes. At the same time, the Flames are at least competitive on the road, with one regulation loss in their past eight away from the Saddledome.

Winners of four straight matchups, the Las Vegas Golden Knights have a 3-point lead at the top of the Pacific Division. They've won eight of their past nine at T-Mobile Arena, recapturing a home-ice advantage that was elusive earlier in the season, when they were 13-13 through their first 26 home games.

This pick is more about the Flames being due, or even overdue, for better results when they have the third best score-and-venue-adjusted expected goals percentage (55.4%) during five-on-five play.

DraftKings and FanDuel have the Flames as slight underdogs, at -105, while the rest of our best sportsbooks have the game as a pick 'em, with the Flames and Golden Knights both priced at a -110 moneyline. I have the Flames as a small favorite, so take the -105 at DK or FD.

Check out our latest Stanley Cup odds!

Spread: Kings -1.5 (-115 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A 6-0-1 record in their past seven games has the L.A. Kings pushing Vegas for the Pacific Division's top spot.

The Kings have 87 points in 68 matchups and each of their past four wins were by a margin of two goals or more. Multi-goal victories are a result of a more explosive attack, as L.A. ranks second with 3.79 goals per 60 minutes since the All-Star break.

While the Columbus Blue Jackets earned an overtime win in San Jose Tuesday, it's been a rough season on the way to a league-worst 49 points in 66 games.

Columbus ranks 27th in expected goals against since the All-Star break and while its 19th in actual goals against average during that time, many of those games included efforts by defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, both dealt to the Kings before the trade deadline.

FanDuel has the best puck line number for the Kings -1.5, at -115, ahead of BetMGM at -120. DraftKings, Caesars, and PointsBet are all at -125, so there's clearly value by shopping around for the best price. In this case, make the wager at FanDuel. 

Check out our latest Norris Trophy odds!

Total: Bruins-Jets Over 6 (-120 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐

In a rare occurrence, the Boston Bruins show signs of vulnerability. With multi-goal losses at Detroit and Chicago to open their five-game road trip, the Bruins aren't displaying the dominant form that propelled them to the top of the NHL standings with 105 points in 66 games.

That weakness makes it more likely for the Bruins and Jets to hit the Over because when Boston is at its best, it has a stifling defensive game. Even after allowing 11 goals combined in losses against the Red Wings and Blackhawks, Boston still has a 2.20 GAA, easily the league's top mark.

If there's some regression coming for Boston's GAA, and NHL-leading .926 save percentage, that opens the door for Winnipeg to help push this total Over.

While their 3.08 goals per 60 minutes is tied for 17th, the Jets have enough forward talent to score against the Bruins. However, the Jets have their own defensive issues, too. Since the All-Star break, Winnipeg ranks 23rd with a 3.44 GAA.

There's a lot of agreement among top sportsbooks when it comes to this total. DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars all have the Over at -120, just ahead of PointsBet, at -121. FanDuel pushed its total to 6.5, with the Over at +108 and the Under at -132, but that extra half goal is not worth the risk.

Check out our latest Vezina Trophy odds!

Prop: Eeli Tolvanen anytime goal (+250 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

After hitting on a Eeli Tolvanen anytime goal last week, I'm back on board, picking the Kraken winger for an anytime goal at San Jose.

Tolvanen made the most of the opportunity afforded to him in Seattle, scoring 12 goals in 33 games after getting claimed off waivers from the Nashville Predators. That includes scoring at least one goal in five of 18 road matchups. 

The real value of this play is Tolvanen faces the Sharks and San Jose ranks dead last with a 4.02 GAA on home ice. For a player who's thriving in a new situation and getting first unit power play time, my price for a Tolvanen goal is +190. 

FanDuel, at +250, offers significant value and Caesars, at +220, has positive expected value, too. DraftKings, BetMGM, and PointsBet are all at +180, not as appealing, so it pays to shop for the best price, especially in the props market where there tends to be greater variance.

NHL best bets made 3/16/2023 at 12:26 p.m. ET.

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