NHL Picks and Betting Tips October 18, 2018

Last Updated: 2018-10-18

MORNING LINE REPORT – Thursday, October 18th

I’m really thankful it’s Thursday because that means we have a full card to go over. While that’s more work on my end, the busier days seem to be the only time I can snag a winner. After the Blues dropped a 3-2 decision in Montreal last night (with the game winner coming with just 11 seconds left in regulation), I am now 0-5 on the lighter days where there’s only been one play on the card. Let’s hope today’s nine-game card can score us another nice day.

A ton of notes below on expected goaltenders and injuries, with a few new ones on the radar. There’s some thoughts in the Line Movement section for a few games where I mention how I’ll be approaching them today, specifically Chicago and Buffalo, so keep an eye on my social media later for updates and play additions.

Let’s cut the intro short at that and get right into today’s games.

Holler at me on the Twitter, @kreatture. And be sure to sign up for a free account here at BangTheBook and turn on the notifications so you get a pop-up each time an article is posted or updated.


All wagers this season will come from one of three sportsbooks – Bookmaker, BetOnline and Bovada. It’s great to have a local account with your bookie but you should consider adding these accounts to your options to maximize your value and profit margins. It’s free to set up an account and these are three of the most secure options for U.S. players.


Pittsburgh Penguins @ Toronto Maple Leafs



LINE MOVEMENT: No line available here yet but I can almost guarantee this will open higher than the Expected Line Range and we’ll have value on Pittsburgh later this morning. I’ll be looking to add the Penguins early hopefully before the Leafs goaltender announcement as I’m anticipating Sparks getting the start, but I could very well be wrong on that. If Andersen starts, we will surely get a better number this afternoon so we’ll just wait and see when the line opens and when the announcement is. I’ll update on my Twitter.


Philadelphia Flyers @ Columbus Blue Jackets



LINE MOVEMENT: This line saw an initial move towards Columbus last night but then back towards Philadelphia early this morning. It’s possible someone may be setting up the line for a play on Columbus once max limits open as they should be the preferred side here. Regardless, the move has given us a lot of value now on the Blue Jackets and I would advise locking this one in early.


Colorado Avalanche @ New Jersey Devils



LINE MOVEMENT: Another day, another fade of the Devils. They have to lose eventually, right? I thought this line opened a shade high but it has taken Jersey money consistently overnight and is offering a lot of value on Colorado now. Butcher’s absence may be undervalued in the market and that’s fine by me, but he really is a significant loss. This line shouldn’t really climb any higher than this so grab Colorado early for max value.

10:50am UPDATE: Will Butcher is a full go at the Devils morning skate and is now expected to play tonight. I’m beyond steamed about this as I was told by a reliable source last night he would not play. There’s still value on Colorado at the current number so does not cancel the play, but I would only play it down to +118 now instead of +112. Huge apologies for this mistake, it is not something I take lightly.


Detroit Red Wings @ Tampa Bay Lightning



LINE MOVEMENT: Little to no movement here on this one. It might be a shade high so I would expect it to maybe come down a bit if anything but it’s hard to back the Red Wings right now with their defensive injuries. Even if a bit of value presents itself here, I’d probably recommended staying away from Detroit for the time being.


Vancouver Canucks @ Winnipeg Jets



LINE MOVEMENT: This line opened a touch low but has dropped a bit more overnight with some Vancouver money coming in. The Canucks are hot but this is the final game of their six-game, two-week road trip and they’ll be going up against a ticked off Jets team after they blew a 4-1 third period lead to Edmonton on Tuesday. I expect the Canucks to gas out in this one and the Jets to put them away convincingly, but you never know. If you’ve averse to laying the high juice, a -0.5 regulation play should be okay here.


Arizona Coyotes @ Chicago Blackhawks



LINE MOVEMENT: We’ve seen a little movement each way here as bettors as likely torn between the Arizona team who seem to be playing very well despite the lack of goal scoring and the return of Corey Crawford for Chicago. We have a bit of value on the Hawks at the current number but I’m laying off this one until Crawford is 100% confirmed and also Alex Galchenyuk 100% ruled out. If those two things occur and there’s still value in the number, I’ll be looking to add Chicago as a later play. I’ll update on Twitter at that time.


Boston Bruins @ Edmonton Oilers



LINE MOVEMENT: No line on this one yet but I don’t expect to find value when it does. Expecting Cam Talbot to get the start for the home opener but if Koskinen is announced, I’ll be looking to quickly jump on the Bruins. I really like Boston here tonight, despite the back-to-back, as I think they’ll be okay with Halak (arguably their best goaltender) in net and might talk myself into playing them even if there isn’t a great amount of value. I’ll let you know on Twitter later once we see the number.


Buffalo Sabres @ San Jose Sharks



LINE MOVEMENT: No movement off this opening number which is surprising for a Sharks game but bettors are likely a bit shy to lay the big number when it’s already inflated. There’s a bit of value on the Sabres tonight at the current number but I’m going to hold off here, as well, to see if Jumbo Joe forces himself into the game. We’ll re-visit this one later today.


New York Islanders @ Los Angeles Kings



LINE MOVEMENT: A small move towards Los Angeles at a few shops here and nothing going on at some others. An interesting game for two teams desperate for a win. I tend to side with the home team in that case but the value is going to be on the Islanders or nothing tonight. Jonathan Quick might be available for this one and if he’s announced, this line should shoot up a bit but I don’t think I’ll be getting involved at this number. If you like the Islanders, it probably won’t hurt to wait until later today before locking it in.





It’s important to analyze your wins and losses to see if your hot streak has been deserved or your cold streak undeserved. A way to do this in hockey is through the advanced stat Expected Goals which was originally popularized in analyzing soccer data and has been adapted for use in hockey. It can be confusing to understand and I certainly don’t want to get into a heavy lecture here on hockey analytics but for those who are unfamiliar with this concept and would like to learn more, you can read about it on Corsica.hockey in a post by Emmanuel Perry.

If you dislike reading long essays like myself, the short version (taken from Perry’s post) is it’s a predictive model used to tell which team had the better scoring chances and should have scored more goals based on the historical context we have of similar past situations, using measures like shot type (wrist shot, slap shot, deflection, etc.), shot distance (adjusted distance from the net), shot angle, rebounds, rush shots and strength state (powerplay or even-strength).

Over on the Corsica website, if you click on the final tab on the top row called “More” and then “Games” you will be taken to a page with the games played on the most recent day. On this page, you can click on any game from the most recent night or view any games from past dates. For example, Detroit vs. Los Angeles from the night of October 7. There’s a lot of data on this page but for simplicity sake today, you’ll just want to look at the two rows at the top for DET and LA. The fifth column over lists each team’s Expected Goals For (xGF) and you can see based on similar events in the past, Detroit would have been expected to score 3.56 goals to LA’s 2.01, yet the Kings won the game 4-2. If you watched this game, you would have seen the Wings control the play for most of the evening, including a 38-25 edge in shots. The Red Wings were probably the better team overall and should have been expected to win that game a lot of the time, but they didn’t. If you bet on LA and were touting a big win that night, you should know you were on the right side of “luck” for this one. Of course, luck pays the bills from night-to-night but over the course of a full season, luck becomes less important and skill prevails. You want to make sure you’re on the skill side in the end.

Okay, after that exhaustive explanation (my apologies) of Expected Goals which still no one understands (again, apologies), here is how it relates to your betting. Each Monday I will post a chart which lists all the wagers I’ve recommended in the past week with their actual result and their Expected Goals result.



Each Monday I will do a weekly Expected Goals recap in the intro, recapping the prior week’s wagers. Expected Goals is an advanced analytics stat popularized in soccer analysis and has been translated for use in the NHL by some very smart people. In an effort to not repeat myself with the same explanation each week, for those who are unfamiliar with what Expected Goals are and how it works, I would recommend reading through the above section “Expected Goals” before continuing with this week’s recap first.

Expected Goals is a good measure to see which side of the “luck” coin you were on, but it’s not the be-all end-all as it can be neutralized by the play of a red-hot or ice-cold goaltender. A prime example of this is the Anaheim Ducks who are off to a good looking 4-1-1 start but have actually yet to win a single game this season by the Expected Goals metric. Even their 5-2 opening night win over San Jose saw them lose the xGF 2.77 to 1.08 but the outstanding play by John Gibson (and equally poor play by Martin Jones) was a significant contribution to the final score. Teams with strong goaltending (like the Ducks) are going to win more games over the course of the season even when they don’t necessarily deserve too. Still, if a team wins the Expected Goals battle, odds are they were the better team overall and just ran into a hot goaltender. That’s just life in the NHL.

Another extreme example was just last night between the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets. The Canes controlled play most of the evening and looked the better team but 42 saves from Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (many of which were spectacular) was the difference in the outcome. Carolina backers yesterday should feel a little robbed of their big underdog ticket as the Canes won the Expected Goals by a massive 4.59 to 1.86 overall.

Below, you will see the chart with all the wagers made in the daily articles this past week along with the wagers added on my Twitter. You can see this week returned to more of a normal state where the actual results matched up with the expected results at 10-8 overall, although I only made +1.21 units whereas the expected results netted +1.69 overall.

You can see there were three games where I lost but maybe deserved a better fate (highlighted green) and three games where the actual result gave me a win but were maybe a bit fortunate (highlighted red). Interestingly enough, all three of the games I maybe deserved to win involved the Vegas Golden Knights. I’ve yet to be on the right side of a Knights game this season going 0-5 (0-3 betting for them, 0-2 against them) yet I was on the right side of Expected Goals four of the five games. By far the most frustrating team for me early on.

The overtime/shootout games also balanced out better at 2-3 for the week but are now 3-7 overall. Shootouts in particular have been cruel as we’ve yet to celebrate a victory against three losses. One-goal games were also a bit easier to stomach last week at 3-4 but are now 6-9 overall for a -4.30 units loss. Conversely, I was on the right side of blowouts as I went 6-2 last week on games decided by three or more goals. Win big and lose close. That’s a pretty good formula but still frustrating when you lose more close games.

I was also on the right side of the line moves in 13 of 19 games (68.4%) which is a bit low but for someone with zero market influence I’m happy with that number. The Closing Line Value of the 19 wagers made last week was 2.02% overall, a solid number.

Overall, the results returned to a more normal state than the first week of the season which was a huge outlier compared to my historic results for October. It could take a while to climb completely out of that hole but this past week was an encouraging step in the right direction.

Keeping track of Expected Goal results can help let you know which side of “luck” you’re on and whether you might be due some positive or negative regression. If you have questions about any of the things I’ve discussed, please hit me up on Twitter. I’ll plan on doing an Expected Goals review of all my wagers throughout the previous week each Monday.

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