Thursday NHL Props: Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau Can Pass The Test

Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena
Image Credit: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

We were 4-1 last time we fed you some NHL props, but that’s not good enough. We won’t rest until we go 5-0. And then we still won’t rest, because what’s the other option, betting NASCAR? We’d be hopelessly outgunned there. We’re not even sure how they’d get the skates on the cars.

Overs have been crushing this week. Since Monday, there have been 18 games, and half of them landed eight-plus. Well, don’t look now but we’ve got some lopsided matchups among a slate of 13 games, starting with our first of five Thursday NHL props.

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel, and DraftKings, and updated as of 1:45 p.m. ET on March 10.

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Arizona Coyotes vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Wayne Simmonds #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates the puck up ice while being defended by Alex Galchenyuk #17 of the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona.
Image Credit: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

The prop: 7.5 total goals (alternate total)
The odds: Over +170/Under -210

We’re coming out the gate hot looking for big plus money. In their last 10 games the Leafs have put up 42 goals (aided by the 10-7 game in Detroit where the two clubs decided to just play it as a skills competition). For the year, Toronto is averaging 3.70 goals per game (fourth-best in the league).

Two main reasons this one has a great chance to sail way Over the actual total of 6.5. Obviously, the Coyotes are bad at hockey. Bad at scoring, bad at stopping the other team from scoring, bad at basic hockey things like “having an arena.” Bad. They’re letting in 3.63 goals per game — only five teams are worse — and they have the worst Corsi percentage in the league, which means they’re usually getting badly outshot. Toronto, on the other hand, has the fifth-best. Four goals should be Toronto’s baseline expectation (shut up about Arizona’s 2-1 home win Jan. 12 — nobody likes a know-it-all).

If the Leafs can grab five, we’ve got a good chance to cash in on eight, because of the other factor in play: Toronto’s starting goalie Petr Mrazek. Before primary netminder Jack Campbell needed a mental break (followed by a physical one that has him sidelined for two weeks), Mrazek only came out to play against some of the more offensively challenged squads in the league. Arizona definitely qualifies, but the Yotes are on a little heater themselves, potting 17 goals in their last two games against Detroit and Ottawa.

Mrazek meanwhile has a dreadful .890 save percentage, and he’s pressed into starting duties. The odds say we need to hit this bet a little more than one in three to make it profitable, but the conditions seem to be brewing to make tonight one of the nights.

Winnipeg Jets at New Jersey Devils

Paul Stastny #25 of the Winnipeg Jets plays the puck behind the net while Nathan Bastian #14 of the New Jersey Devils moves in to defend during second period action at Canada Life Centre on December 03, 2021 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Image Credit: Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The prop: Both teams score 1st-period goals
The odds: Yes +150/No -180

We’ve covered New Jersey’s propensity for first-10-minutes goals in depth. And you better believe we’re still riding with that play on its own Thursday, but we’ll double up and add a little twist: We’re looking for both teams to bury one in the first period.

The Devils are averaging better than a goal-for and a goal-against in the first 20 minutes, while the Jets are scoring .88 goals-for, and allowing .96 goals on average in the opening frame. At +150 you need to clear this one 40 percent of the time to turn a profit, and we should have a nice edge at this price.

Vegas Golden Knights: C Jack Eichel

Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel skates during a break in the action against the Ottawa Senators
Image Credit: Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

The prop: 1.5 points (at Buffalo)
The odds: Over +152/Under -188

Has this one been circled on Eichel’s calendar since about last summer? The ugly breakup between the Sabres’ franchise player, the Sabres, and the Sabres’ seemingly Dr. Nick-level medical staff was about as gruesome as it gets.

In eight games since returning from artificial disc replacement surgery, Eichel has seven points in 10 games, only notching two once in that time. He’s admitted he’s not playing at 100 percent yet. Maybe. But you can make the case that an Eichel at 80 percent is plenty good enough to torture Buffalo one more time. That said, his time on ice is still being carefully marshaled.

Sure, Sabres goalie Craig Anderson is old … and pedestrian … and overworked … and gave up 10 in his last two and five when these teams met earlier this season … and — wait, where we going with this? Oh, right. Even with all that, we’re just not fundamentally sold on Eichel as the force of nature he used to be, at least at this point in his comeback. Lay the juice on the Under.

Calgary Flames: LW Johnny Gaudreau

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (13) against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Image Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The prop: 0.5 assists (vs. Tampa Bay)
The odds: Over -115/Under -110

We’ve got a bona fide potential Stanley Cup preview in Alberta tonight. Lock your doors. Hide your pets. Import as much Molson as you can get your hands on. And Gaudreau should be right in the middle of it.

The Elias Lindholm-Gaudreau-Matthew Tkachuk line has been among the very best in hockey, potting 1.6 goals per 20 minutes. Gaudreau is currently tied with Connor McDavid (who?) for the second-most helpers in the league. A big reason why: He has 15 assists in his last 13 games, including at least one in 10 of those contests.

This has “dance with the one who brung you” written all over it. That is, if hockey games had old-timey platitudes written on them.

San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings

San Jose Sharks goaltender Jack Reimer (left) makes a save on a shot by Los Angeles Kings player Viktor Arvidsson (right)
Image Credit: Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

The prop: 1.5 1st-period goals
The odds: Over -120/Under +100

The Kings might be the slowest starting team in hockey. They’ve only recorded 33 first-period goals, and their first period Over rate is 41.4 percent. The Sharks aren’t exactly a ball of fire out of the gate either, beating this Over at 49.1 percent.

Yes, these teams combined for five first-period goals in their only previous meeting this season on Jan. 17. But Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick gave up four of those. And Quick won’t be in net tonight. Instead, L.A. will go with a guy who is actually good at stopping pucks. That guy is Cal Peterson, who since the start of February has only allowed first-period tallies three times in eight games (and two of those were to Boston).

We’ll take even money on the Under tonight.