NHL February Preview
We are now past the halfway point of a gripping NHL season and several elite teams are building up momentum. The Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild are on fire in the west, and it will be intriguing to see if they can maintain their fine form in February. The battle for supremacy in the east is heating up, with the Panthers, the Lightning, the Maple Leafs, the Hurricanes and the Rangers all flourishing over the past few weeks.
These teams will continue to jostle for position in February. We have picked out the games we are most excited to watch, laid out some key betting trends and provided a futures wagering update.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Monday, February 7, at Scotiabank Arena
Two of the best teams in the east will lock horns at the Scotiabank Arena on Monday. The Maple Leafs are on an impressive six-game winning streak, and they could overhaul the Panthers and the Lightning at the top of the Atlantic Division by the end of February if they keep it up.
Yet the Hurricanes are also on a four-game winning run, which has carried them to the top of the Metropolitan Division, so this will be a heavyweight clash. Rookie Michael Bunting has been devastating for the Toronto offense, and it will be interesting to see him come up against Frederik Anderson in this game.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Edmonton Oilers
Tuesday, February 8, at Rogers Place
Vegas emerged from a brutal run of games against the Capitals, Hurricanes, Panthers and Lightning with a 2-1-1 record last week. They followed it up with a win against the Sabers, and they should be able to overpower the Oilers on Tuesday.
Edmonton stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are as dangerous as ever, but the team lacks depth, and the Oilers have plummeted down the Pacific Division standings. They will need a strong February to fight their way into playoff consideration.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche
Thursday, February 10, at Ball Arena
The favorites to win the Eastern Conference will clash with the favorites to win the Western Conference in Denver next Thursday. They are also the top two teams in the Stanley Cup futures betting, so this will be a very eagerly anticipated game.
The Avs made a slightly slow start to the season, but they are now the frightening juggernaut that we all expected. They were on a 10-game winning streak before their overtime defeat to the Coyotes on Tuesday. Their last regulation time defeat came on December 16. They will have a week to regroup, relax and prepare for this clash with the Lightning. Nathan MacKinnon will be a miss, as he needs nose surgery, but Colorado should still be formidable.
This game will be a crucial test of their ability to seize glory this season. The Lightning have won the Stanley Cup for the past two years, and they remain an elite team. However, the Avs won the only meeting between the teams this season – a 4-3 triumph in October – and if they can repeat the feat on February 10, the odds on them winning the Cup should plummet.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues
Saturday, February 12, at Enterprise Center
The Blues have quietly gone 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, leaving them in good shape to reach the playoffs. The goaltending situation is a serious concern, with Jordan Binnington struggling, but they are a dangerous team on offense.
That should make this an interesting game. It has been a miserable season for the Blackhawks, but Alex DeBrincat is on pace for a career-high 50 goals, and this should prove to be an entertaining, high-scoring affair.
Florida Panthers vs. Minnesota Wild
Friday, February 18, at Xcel Energy Center
Two genuine NHL heavyweights will battle it out in Minnesota on February 18. The Wild have won their last five games, and they look like serious contenders in the west. The Panthers continue to lead the Atlantic Division, and they have the best points tally in the entire league this season.
Jonathan Huberdeau has a shot at winning the scoring title this season, despite facing fierce competition from the likes of Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews and Alex Ovechkin. It will be fun to see how he performs against a terrific Wild team led by Kirill Kaprizov.
New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Friday, February 25, at PPG Paints Arena
The Penguins have been one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. They have faced constant adversity with an injury list that never seems to shrink, but all sorts of unexpected players have stepped up and performed, such as Evan Rodrigues.
They are on a losing streak right now, but they remain dangerous. They face a fascinating game with the Rangers towards the end of February. The Rangers are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, and they have now climbed above the Penguins in the Metropolitan Division, with Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin now looking like a serious MVP contender.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Nashville Predators
Saturday, February 26, at Nissan Stadium
The Nashville Predators will decamp to the home of the Tennessee Titans for the latest installment of the NHL Stadium series. It will be the first time the Tampa Bay Lightning have ever played a regular season outdoor game. The Predators played in the 2020 NHL Winter Classic in Dallas, so it will be the second outdoor game for the franchise.
The Lightning went 6-2 against the Predators last season. This will be the first meeting between the teams in 2021-22. The Lightning are currently second in the Atlantic Division, and the reigning Stanley Cup champions look strong, led by veteran forward Alex Killorn, but they will face a tough test in this game. The Predators remain second in the Central Division, and Juuse Saros went 8-2-2 with a .934 save percentage in January. They may continue to punch above their weight if he maintains those performance levels, but this is still a game the Lightning should win.
- Home teams have won precisely 55% of all NHL games so far this season.
- Favorites have prevailed in 65.3% of NHL games, with underdogs winning 34.7% of the time.
- Home favorites have won 65.9% of the time, compared to 64.2% for away favorites.
- Away teams have covered the puck line in 54% of all games so far. Underdogs cover 59.2% of the time, and away underdogs cover 60.3%.
- Betting on over the total goals line has paid off in 50.1% of NHL games this season. In Overtime games, over lands 52% of the time, but under has landed in 55.9% of overtime games.
- The Anaheim Ducks have the best ATS record in the league this season (30-17).
- The Nashville Predators have the best away ATS record (16-9).
- The Oilers have the worst ATS record (15-25). At home, the Bruins are bottom of the pile (5-18) and on the road the Stars have a league low 7-14 ATS record.
- The Avs are the best team so far for going over the total goals line, with a 28-14-1 record. At the other end of the spectrum over/under is 14-22 in games featuring the New York Islanders.
Futures Betting Update
The odds on the Colorado Avalanche winning the Western Conference have shortened over the past month. They were priced at +250 at the start of January, but the best price available now is +200 at FanDuel and Caesars, while some sportsbooks will only go to +160. Key players have returned from injury, powering the Avs to the top of the Central Division, and they are expected to continue building momentum in the weeks ahead. The Vegas Golden Knights are next in the Stanley Cup futures betting at +350, followed by the Minnesota Wild at +1000 with FanDuel.
The odds on the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Eastern Conference have also shortened, with Caesars now offering a market leading +400. The Florida Panthers are +440 and the Toronto Maple Leafs are +550 with FanDuel, while you can find +600 on the Carolina Hurricanes and +850 on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Washington Capitals have drifted out from+800 a month ago to +1200 now.
DraftKings Sportsbook makes the Avs the +475 favorites for Stanley Cup glory. The Lightning are next in the betting at +750, while the Knights and the Panthers are available at +800. The Hurricanes have dropped from +1500 a month ago to just +1000 now with some books.
DraftKings has Auston Matthews and Leon Draisaitl both priced at +250 to finish as the regular season top goalscorer, with Alex Ovechkin not far behind at +275. Odds of +225 on Connor McDavid to win the Hart Trophy look very appealing, although he faces competition from Ovechkin (+330) and teammate Draisaitl (+650). Igor Shesterkin stands a great chance of winning the Vezina Trophy, and odds of +175 look tempting on that. Cale Makar leads the way in the James Norris Trophy at +150. The Calder Trophy looks tight, while Mike Sullivan looks like a good option for the Jack Adams Award at +700 after working wonders with a banged-up Steelers team.