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Monday NHL Betting Picks: Our Best Bets for Bruins vs. Lightning, Avalanche vs. Stars (Aug. 31)

Monday NHL Betting Picks: Our Best Bets for Bruins vs. Lightning, Avalanche vs. Stars (Aug. 31) article feature image

Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jamie Oleksiak, Gabriel Landeskog

  • Need some quick NHL bets for Monday's Stanley Cup Playoffs action? Our staff weighs in with their three favorite bets for tonight's slate.
  • Our NHL experts are targeting the over/under in both games, while Michael Leboff is betting on Tampa Bay to close out Boston in Game 5.
  • Read on for a complete breakdown on each of our favorite Monday night NHL bets for Bruins vs. Lightning and Stars vs. Avalanche.

It’s an elimination night in the NHL Bubbles.

There are two games on Monday’s card and both of them feature teams with their backs against the proverbial wall.

The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning will get things started at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars at 9:45 p.m. ET. Will the Bruins and Avalanche live to fight another day? Or will the Bolts and Stars punch their tickets to the Final Four?

Here are our favorite bets for Monday’s NHL action:

Michael Leboff: Tampa Bay Lightning (-117)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

Andrei Vasilevskiy has been terrific during the postseason, but the players in front of him are doing their part to make the lanky netminder’s job as easy as possible. The Lightning are allowing 1.74 expected goals against per 60 minutes during the playoffs and just 1.36 xGA/60 through four games against the Bruins.

The Bruins are known as the NHL’s preeminent defensive team, but the Lightning are beating them at their own game right now.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

As expected, the Tampa Bay Lightning have shortened a bit after winning three games on the spin and outscoring the Bruins, 10-2, in the process. The price is not all that off-putting, though.

The current odds for Game 5 imply that Tampa Bay wins this game 52.1% of the time.

If you look at the big picture, there’s still very little that separates these two teams, but I think that the Tampa Bay Lightning can beat the Boston Bruins in more ways than the Boston Bruins can beat the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boston has relied on its power play and its stars for a good chunk of its offensive production in the playoffs, while Tampa has gotten contributions from all over its roster. The Lightning can beat you with offense, defense or goaltending on any given night.

When the odds are this tight, I’ll go with the team with more paths to success. In this matchup, it’s the Lightning.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Sam Hitchcock: Bruins vs. Lightning Under 5.5 (-114)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 7 p.m. ET

The Boston Bruins are a team on the brink of elimination and the reasons are many. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been inadequate as a replacement for the invaluable Tuukka Rask. Boston’s defensive group has been incapable of containing the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. The Bruins aren’t receiving supplementary scoring or much 5-on-5 scoring. They have been undisciplined and sloppy and have lost the expected goals battle in all four contests.

Despite being without Ryan McDonagh and Steven Stamkos, the Lightning are smushing Boston, but the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for a reason. Even without Rask they have a strong team defense and their elite forward talent can match any team in the league.

DraftKings has Tampa Bay as the slight favorite in Game 5 at -113. (Boston is at -103.) Game 5 feels like a toss-up and DraftKings reinforces that sentiment. I think the smarter play is to take the under 5.5 total goals at -114. I like the bet for two reasons.

First, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is in net. The Lightning netminder has been outstanding against Boston, boasting a .952 save percentage at 5-on-5 and a 3.17 Goals Saved Above Average. Both stats lead all goaltenders in the second round.

Tampa Bay’s defense deserve plaudits as well for keeping Boston out of the slot. The Bruins’ average shot distance is 44.14, which is ghoulish. Vasilevskiy has made timely saves and drawn a stark contrast to his foe in the other net.

Second, Halak, the men in stripes, and bad luck united for a surfeit of Lightning goals in the last three games. If Boston is going to win this game, one would imagine it is going to tack toward keeping it low scoring.

Halak has been a liability, so Boston’s skaters need to limit chances on him through a more sober approach to puck-handling and better conduct on the ice. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy must intuitively know that a 2-1 game acquired through extensive offensive zone time is the only path to a Boston victory.

I think Boston is going to try to blast the Lightning with shot attempts and the game will be four goals or fewer. Ka-ching!

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Pete Truszkowski: Avalanche vs. Stars Over 6 (-106)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 9:45 p.m.

This is the series that keeps on giving. After Sunday’s 6-4 win for the Dallas Stars, this series is now 4-0 to the over. Monday’s game sets up for another goal-fest. Not only is this the second game in as many nights, but Colorado’s goaltender, Pavel Francouz, has really struggled since being thrust into duty after Philipp Grubauer’s injury.

Francouz has not played up to expectations in this series. The Czech netminder was very good during the regular season, but he’s been a disaster in the playoffs. Francouz has been beaten 15 times in three-plus games. He was pulled in Game 4 in favor of Michael Hutchinson midway through the third period.

Starting a struggling goaltender on back-to-back nights is not a recipe for success, but the Avalanche have no other choice. If Francouz is cold, the Stars could hit this over on their own.

And if they don’t, I expect the Avs to do their part. Despite being down, 3-1, Colorado has scored 15 times in this series. The only problem is Dallas has scored four more goals.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken and back the over.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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