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NHL Betting Picks: Best Bets for Canadiens vs. Flyers, Canucks vs. Blues (August 21)

NHL Betting Picks: Best Bets for Canadiens vs. Flyers, Canucks vs. Blues (August 21) article feature image

Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Sutter, Jacob Markstrom

  • There are two Stanley Cup Playoff games on Friday night: Montreal Candiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues.
  • Our NHL writers share their favorite bets for both games:

Two seasons are on the line on Friday night.

The St. Louis Blues trail the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2, in their back-and-forth best-of-7 and a loss on Friday night would send the Blues home and would make it official that the Stanley Cup would have a new home in 2020/21.

Before we can get to that game, though, we must see if the Montreal Canadiens can keep their season alive against the Philadelphia Flyers in what should be a blood-and-thunder show at 7 p.m. ET.

Check out our favorite bets for tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action:

Michael Leboff: Montreal Canadiens (+120)

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

The Canadiens have had trouble finding the back of the net all season and have been shut-out twice in this series, so losing Brendan Gallagher, their best 5-on-5 scorer, is a mini-disaster. It’s not a death sentence, though.

The Canadiens have played a characteristically strong 5-on-5 game in this series. The Habs have a 58.4% expected goals rate and have created 21 more high-danger scoring chances through the first five games, so the ice has been tilted towards the Flyers’ net at even strength.

Plenty has been made of Montreal’s scoring woes — and it is a legitimate concern — but Philadelphia hasn’t been much better. The Flyers have scored just four goals at 5-on-5 in this series and they held a 3-1 series lead despite scoring just five total goals through the first four contests.

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.

The Flyers went 3-0 in the round robin and were the hottest team before the hiatus, so the market was a bit high on them ahead of Game 1 against the Habs, who finished 24th overall during the regular season and were the last team admitted into these Dystopian Playoffs.

Even though Philadelphia won Game 1, the Flyers Hype calmed down a bit and has the price on Philadelphia has come down quite a ways from where we started. Some of that was just the market correcting on the Flyers, but Montreal’s 5-on-5 play also has something to do with it.

Philadelphia Flyers Montreal Canadiens
Game 1 -162 +138
Game 2 -148 +126
Game 3 -148 +128
Game 4 -127 +110
Game 5 -137 +118
Game 6 -141 +123

Odds via DraftKings

The listed odds imply that Montreal wins this game 43.4% of the time and I think that’s a little low, even without Gallagher.

Finding the back of the net will be a challenge for the Habs, but the same can be said of Philadelphia. Montreal has the better 5-on-5 numbers in this series and was one of the best teams at even strength throughout the season, so I’ll gladly back the Habs at anything better than +120.

[Bet the Montreal Canadiens at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

Sam Hitchcock: Jaden Schwartz to score a goal (+280)

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

The Blues must have been crestfallen when Vladimir Tarasenko left the bubble to have doctors look at his shoulder in St. Louis. But his departure has resulted in coach Craig Berube merging Jaden Schwartz with David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly. The trio have annihilated the Vancouver Canucks.

Since Game 3, the newfangled O’Reilly line has an expected goals of 75.18% at 5-on-5. They have more than double in shot attempts and more than triple in high-danger chances than their adversary. They have fired 38 shots while allowing 14.

More importantly, the Canucks have no ability to stop them. They tried to oppose the Blues’ first line with Elias Pettersson centering Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller. They tried substituting Bo Horvat. They hoped the Quinn Hughes and Chris Tanev defensive pair would slow them down. No dice.

Schwartz is +280 to score a goal, which is notably higher than Perron at +215 and O’Reilly at +225. But given his extensive time in the offensive zone and looks on the power play, Schwartz seems a worthy wager.

[Bet this prop at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

Pete Truszkowski: St. Louis Blues (-132)

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

The bookmakers sure do have a happy trigger finger when it comes to this series. The first two games of the series saw the Blues end up in the -150 range. Vancouver won those two games — thanks to the volatile combination of special teams and goaltending — and the oddsmakers adjusted by making St. Louis a much smaller favorite, near the -130 range, for the next two contests.

The Blues took both those games and as a result, they were installed as -140 favorites in Game 5. With Vancouver getting the win there, the Blues are back in the -130 neighborhood for Game 6.

Vancouver played likely their best game of the series in game five, edging the Blues in expected goals (2.41-2.11), high-danger chances (11-9), and shot attempts (59-49). Game 5 looks like the outlier, though.

St. Louis has been the better team at 5-on-5, but Vancouver’s goaltending and special teams have been the difference.

Speaking of goaltending, it’ll be interesting to see if the Blues go back to Jordan Binnington in between the pipes. Jake Allen got St. Louis back in the series with wins in Games 3 and 4, but he struggled on Wednesday night.

No matter who Craig Berube throws in the blue paint, it is my belief that the line for these two teams was probably most accurate prior to Game 5. The Blues deserve to be a favorite in the -140 range, so I’d take St. Louis at any price below -135.

[Bet the St. Louis Blues at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN and WV only.]

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