NHL weekend betting preview: Backing teams in advantageous rest spots

Francois Lacasse / National Hockey League / Getty

We've been stuck in the mud since Monday's sweep, splitting the rest of the week to sit 123-113 (+7.41 units) on the season heading into the weekend.

It's time for a final push as we enter the last couple of weeks of the regular season.

Canadiens (-110) @ Flames (-110)
April 23, 9 p.m. ET

A recurring theme for these picks is rest - and fading teams in disadvantageous spots. Fading squads in difficult schedule spots has been profitable this season, and fatigue seems likely to hold added weight over these final few weeks as the grind of an incredibly compact campaign increasingly wearing on teams.

The first spot to offer value is Friday's game in Calgary, where the Flames essentially face a must-win situation against the Canadiens. The Flames have been resting at home since Monday's loss to the Senators and should be fresh for this massive game following three full days off. The Canadiens played the Oilers in Edmonton on Wednesday, and Friday's tilt will be their fifth game in eight days. Playing four games a week, Montreal hasn't had consecutive nights off since its COVID-19 postponements in March.

Much has been made of the Canadiens' inconsistencies of late, but some of those struggles can likely be attributed, at least in part, to a near-impossible schedule. That schedule makes this a good spot to fade Montreal even after a strong showing against the Oilers. It helps that the Flames have largely dominated the season series between these two teams, winning four of the last six meetings while controlling 57% of the expected goal share at five-on-five.

Pick: Flames (-110)

Coyotes (-105) @ Kings (-115)
April 24, 10 p.m.

A surprise success story earlier in the season, the Kings have seen their campaign tail off as they head into the final stretch with a playoff spot largely out of reach. They find themselves in a very difficult spot Saturday when they play their second game in as many nights, this time against a Coyotes team that will have been idle since Wednesday.

The Coyotes have had plenty of success this year against teams below them in the standings. Against the likes of the Avalanche, Golden Knights, and Wild, Arizona is 4-17-1. It's 16-5-4 against the rest of the division. With a healthy Darcy Kuemper back between the pipes and L.A. playing its second game in as many nights, the Coyotes offer good value at this price.

Pick: Coyotes (-105)

Bruins (N/A) @ Penguins (N/A)
April 25, 3 p.m.

The Penguins face the same situation as the Kings, as Sunday's game will be their second in as many nights and comes against a Bruins team that's off Saturday. Pittsburgh has played a ton of hockey recently, and this will be its sixth game in nine nights; it will be Boston's fifth in that span. That may not seem like a big deal, but the extra game is significant, especially considering the Penguins will have left the ice against the Devils less than 24 hours before this tilt.

With the games piling up, the Penguins' underlying numbers have taken a hit. They're 5-1-1 in their last seven - all games against the bottom three teams in the division - but own an expected goals for percentage of just 47.52 at five-on-five over that span. Regression looms. The Bruins, meanwhile, have hit their stride since injecting Taylor Hall and Mike Reilly into the lineup. Boston has won six in a row - three each against the Islanders and Capitals - and owns a league-best 62.89 expected goals for percentage and 58.76 Corsi For percentage over that span. First place in the East Division is now well within reach for the Bruins, who can make a real statement Sunday.

Pick: Bruins (-120 or better)

Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, despises how the NHL handles starting goalie announcements, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

NHL weekend betting preview: Backing teams in advantageous rest spots
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