NHL Best Bets Tonight | Expert Picks and Predictions

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  • 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 two excellent games on Friday's slate, taking place on opposite sides of the continent.

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

NHL Best Bets Tonight

Friday, May 10
7:00 p.m. ET
ESPN
Panthers ML (-130)

The Panthers offered significantly more well-rounded play than the Bruins this season, and have been the sharper side these playoffs.

Let's not forget that entering these playoffs, many observers were trying to sell the idea that the red-hot Lightning were once again a true cup contender. Well it didn't look like it Round One, as the Panthers deservingly dispatched their in-state rival in five games.

Boston meanwhile took seven games to sneak past a Leafs side which nobody was overly high on, and altogether owned less of the play in that series. Auston Matthews and William Nylander both missed time in that series too, so it wasn't even a 100% Leafs side the Bruins had to overcome.

The Bruins were deserving winners of Game 1 in this series, and carried on a trend of Game 7 winners finding success versus teams that had three or more off days between games. After watching Game 2, it seemed pretty clear that rust among the Panthers roster did play a role in their Game 1 loss.

Now as the series shifts to Boston, the Panthers go from being a -170 favorite to win Game 2, to being only a -130 favorite at the time of writing.

Home-ice advantage is not enough of an argument to suggest that price change is correct. The Bruins went only 2-2 at home versus Toronto. In this exact series last season, road teams went 5-2. Road teams are one game above .500 this postseason, and went 42-36 last postseason.

All of those numbers tell us home ice continues to be overvalued in the NHL playoffs.

With that in mind, it's hard for me to see how this game is priced so evenly.

The Panthers offer a superior top-six, and should fare well in any minutes involving Aleksander Barkov's line versus the Bruins top unit. Their offensive core holds far more better than average pieces, which is why they have generated far more chances this postseason and all season long.

Fading Jeremy Swayman is scary to be sure, and he is going to continue to be liable to steal the Bruins victories. That's not enough of an argument for me to stay off the Panthers at -130 though, and I see value backing Florida at anything better than -135.

Wednesday, May 8
10:00 p.m. ET
TNT
Oilers ML (-125)

The hatred between these two fanbases is already boiling over to a very questionable place, and this series should continue to make for can't-miss-television as a result.

Canucks fans have been very passionate in arguing that oddsmakers do not know what they are doing to make the Canucks such heavy underdogs in this series. Game 1 proved that point correct to some extent, as the Canucks pulled off a shocking comeback to steal a 5-4 victory.

It's hard to say if that victory is likely to be replicated in Game 2 though, and now seems like a good time to buy on the Oilers at a cheap price.

Both starting goaltenders were shaky in Game 1, but it was Oilers netminder Stuart Skinner who was still worst of all. Shots from the location of Connor Garland's game winner have been saved 98.3% of the time in the NHL this season. Skinner bounced back from a bad start in the Kings series though, and still has to be viewed as the superior starter to third-stringer Arturs Silovs.

The Canucks really did not have much in the way of quality chances until their late push. Credit to them for getting the most out of an average output of chances, but that likely won't hold true again if Skinner can find his standard level tonight.

The Canucks have generated just 20.02 shots for per 60 this postseason, and own the third lowest xGF/60 at 2.52.

Even in 5-on-5 play it's reasonable to expect the Oilers to own slightly more of the play tonight. If Skinner brings a better effort, the Canucks lack of quality chances should become more of a story once again.

Even if the Canucks do hang in at even strength though, chances are special teams will be more of a story in tonight's game, which means advantage Edmonton. In Game 1, the Canucks took only one minor penalty, and the Oilers made them pay with a power play marker.

Chances are that the Oilers power play gets more opportunities to work in tonight's matchup, as one penalty is a notably low number for games early on in a playoff series.

There is value backing the Oilers to win this matchup at -125, and anything better than -130 is worth a bet.

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