NHL Best Bets | Tonight’s Expert Picks and Predictions

NHL Best Bets | Tonight’s Expert Picks and Predictions article feature image

(Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) Pictured: Evan Bouchard #2 and Connor McDavid #97.

  • Nicholas Martin gives out his NHL best bets.
  • Continue reading for Martin's expert picks and prediction for tonight's NHL slate.

The NHL playoffs resume with only one game on Monday's  slate. However, not only do I have a prediction for tonight's series opener between the Bruins and Panthers, I also have a pick for another Game 1 scheduled for later in the week.

Let's dive into my NHL best bets and look at tonight's expert picks and prediction.

NHL Best Bets

Monday, May 6
8:00 p.m. ET
David Pastrnak To Record 4+ Shots On Goal – 60 Minute Line (-152)

David Pastrnak saved himself, and the Bruins entire roster a ton of offseason ridicule with his clutch overtime winner in Game 7. While the Panthers are another team which will suppress offense effectively, tonight's contest is not likely to be to feature the style of play we saw in the final three games of last series.

Games 5 through 7 of the Bruins opening round matchup versus the Leafs essentially became a staring contest. There was very little power play time for either side, and the Bruins were able to generate only 26.11 shots for per 60 in those three matchups.

Pastrnak still put up four shots on goal in each of the final four games of that series. In theory, tonight's matchup is supposed to be worse for his shooting output, which is why he's priced at -130 (FanDuel, 60-min line) for four compared to the numbers we typically see. I don't agree with the idea that he's in a tougher situation to create shots on goal in this Game 1 than he was at the end of last series though.

First off, the Panthers take more penalties than any other playoff team. Both teams will look to set the tone early with lots of physicality and extracurriculars, and referees are comfortable calling games early in the series much tighter. In all likelihood Pastrnak will get much more power play minutes to pour pucks on goal in this matchup.

And while Florida is a better team than Toronto, don't expect the Bruins to average even fewer shots than we saw last series. This matchup is should feature a higher tempo from a Florida side that will actually try to attack aggressively, and get some defenders involved up the ice.

FanDuel has Pastrnak priced at -130 to record four shots on goal in regulation. In this instance, I believe FanDuel's 60-min price is better than the consensus -150 for four shots with overtime included. This game should go to overtime roughly 1-in-4 times, which is then be multiplied by the percentage of the time Pastrnak arrives at overtime in need of another shot on goal, and then further multiplied by the chance he actually gets it that shot in overtime.

Wednesday, May 8
10:00 p.m. ET
Oilers ML (-130)

The Canucks struggled past the Predators while managing just 19.79 shots for per 60, which was the lowest mark in history for any team to win a series. Their 2.47 xGF/60 (accounts for shot quality), ranked dead last among any team in Round 1.

A similarly modest offensive output from the Canucks should prove to be far more concerning in this matchup versus the Oilers high powered offense. And even if the Canucks are able to defend as effectively versus Edmonton at even strength as they did versus Nashville, chances are they will not be able to keep the Oilers historically strong power play in check.

If the Canucks struggle more so defensively than we saw in Round 1, it should make the absence of Vezina nominee Thatcher Demko a far greater concern.

Arturs Silovs and Casey DeSmith were able to fill-in for Demko effectively in Round 1, as they combined to put up a .920 save percentage. They did not face many quality chances versus the Predators though, and they should face far more quality looks in this matchup versus the Oilers.

Canucks coach Rick Tocchet confirmed Sunday that Demko will miss Game 1 of the series, so it will likely be Silovs once again.

Only the Avalanche owned a better expected goal share than the Oilers in Round 1. Edmonton played to a xGF% of 59.01, while the Canucks were out chanced overall by arguably the Western Conference's worst playoff team.

It's difficult to see why Game 1 is priced as closely as it is. One factor is surely home ice advantage for Vancouver, but home ice continues to prove to be worth less than oddsmakers prices indicate in playoff hockey, where both teams are on equal rest and travel situations.

Road teams finished 22-22 in Round 1, after going 42-36 last playoffs. The Canucks in particular went just 1-2 at home in Round 1, while the Oilers went 2-0 on the road.

This series won't kick off until Wednesday, but I would recommend locking in the Oilers to win Game 1 at -130 (FanDuel) now while the price still exists. Anything better than -140 is worth a bet on the Oilers to win Game 1.

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