NHL Odds, Betting Predictions: 4 Picks for Saturday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Games (August 15)

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Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images. Pictured: Kirby Dach, Patrick Kane

Aug 15, 2020, 10:38 AM EDT
  • Saturday's NHL playoff slate includes four matchups, starting with Bruins vs. Hurricanes at 12 p.m. ET (NBC), followed by Avalanche vs. Coyotes (3 p.m. ET, CNBC).
  • The second half of Saturday's NHL playoff schedule includes Lightning vs. Blue Jackets at 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN) and Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET, NBC).
  • See our staff's favorite Saturday NHL bets, including four best bet picks.

We’re starting to get into the business portion of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There are four more games on Saturday, beginning at noon ET with a coin flip between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes and wrapping up with an 8 p.m. ET puck drop between the Vegas Golden Knights and Chicago Blackhawks.

Check out our favorite bets for Saturday’s action:

Michael Leboff: Boston Bruins (-117)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 12 p.m. ET

Boston’s defensive acumen makes it uniquely equipped to overcome the loss of a key player like David Pastrnak. The Bruins allowed 1.88 goals and 1.98 xG per hour at 5-on-5 during the regular season, leading the league in both categories.


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.


Carolina’s 5-on-5 numbers were also terrific over the regular season, especially when Dougie Hamilton was in the lineup. The Canes controlled 53.4% of the expected goals with their No. 1 defenseman healthy, but most of that puck possession was powered by a relentless offense that presses the opposition into mistakes.

The Bruins aren’t a team that makes many errors, especially in the defensive zone. Boston also has great puck-movers in Torey Krug, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk, so they are well-equipped to handle Carolina’s puck-hounding style.

I get why most bettors will gravitate towards Carolina in this game. In a matchup between two really good teams, why would you want to back the side that has lost four of five games since the restart, is missing a star player and has a goaltender that told the media he’s not really feeling very playoff-y?

All that hubbub, plus Pastrnak’s injury, has caused the market to overreact. Pasta or no Pasta, I’d still make the Bruins favorites in this game. Not only can they compete with Carolina at 5-on-5, but they have the edge on defense and in goal, which is more appealing to me in a coin flip. I’d back Boston up to -120.

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

Pete Truszkowski: Boston Bruins (-117)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 12 p.m. ET

Call me a sucker, but I can’t pass up on what was the best team in the league at such a short line.

Nothing looks good for the Bruins in this one; their best player in David Pastrnak is injured, they’ve won one of five games since they returned to play, and now their goalie is talking about these playoffs like he’s playing in a men’s beer league.

Tuukka Rask has always been a goalie who says what’s on his mind with no filter. I’m sure most players would agree that these games don’t have the feel of a real NHL playoff game, but they won’t publicize it as bluntly as Rask did.

Pastrnak is a potential big loss, though he has not been ruled out completely. Even if Pasta doesn’t suit up, the Bruins held their own in game two without him. They outshot the Hurricanes 35-26 and stayed even with them in terms of high-danger chances.

These are two good teams, but at this short line I’ll take the veteran team who was the best team during the regular season. They also play the best defensive system in the league and Rask is better than either Petr Mrazek or James Reimer.

I’ll believe in the Bruins until they are done.

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

Sam Hitchcock: Golden Knights Over 4.5 Goals (+230)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 8 p.m. ET

The Vegas Golden Knights playing the Chicago Blackhawks presents a unique gambling opportunity. During the regular season, Vegas’s offense had the best advanced stats while Chicago’s defense had the worst.

Therefore, it is no surprise that the moneyline for the Golden Knights is obnoxiously high at -177 on DraftKings. But after nearly losing Game 2 – they were saved only by Reilly Smith’s OT game-winner – presumably the Golden Knights will be primed to demolish the Blackhawks. This makes the over +4.5 goals enticing at +230.

The Golden Knights should view their experience toying with danger as a call for focus. After all, having such a hapless opponent in the first round is the gift Vegas earned by winning the round robin. If they lose a game, they squander the advantage they acquired.

If Game 2 was a wake-up call, it will be interesting to see how quickly their offense can raze Chicago because Vegas was already dominating. Through two games, the Golden Knights nearly doubled the Blackhawks in high-danger chances and they have a 62.66% expected goals. Goal-scoring savant Max Pacioretty played Game 1 but missed Game 2. So, he is kind of back. If Pacioretty plays, Vegas quickly wins this game in the first period.

This matchup is special because the Chicago defense stands out for its ineptitude. In expected goals against per 60 minutes, the Blackhawks have even worse metrics during the playoffs than they did during the regular season. To their credit, they’ve allowed only 33 shots per hour so far in the postseason, which is a shot lower than during the regular season. Small gain, but an improvement!

If the Golden Knights are without Pacioretty, they can still thrash Chicago. Betting on Vegas to score five or more goals seems like a quixotic bet for future rounds. But against Chicago after almost losing, it seems plausible.

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

Michael Leboff: Kirby Dach First Goal (+2400)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 8 p.m. ET

Look, there are bets you make because you think they will win and there are bets you play because betting is supposed to be fun. This one falls under the latter, but I think it has some serious upside considering Kirby Dach’s linemates, usage and his style.

Dach has the luxury of serving as the pivot on Chicago’s second line between Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. Kane is one of the game’s preeminent facilitators, so Dach is never left wanting for service. Kane is also a master at drawing defenses towards him, which leaves his playing partners with space to operate.

Dach has also been getting plenty of power play time, operating as the net-front presence when Chicago’s a man up.

Any bet like this is really just a dart throw, but the fact that Dach does his best work in front of the crease makes him a good bet at these kind of odds since there’s always a chance that a puck flung at the net could find the big-bodied center like it did in Game 2 when he scored his first playoff goal.

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

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