NHL Betting Picks: Our 4 Favorite Bets for Friday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Games (August 14)

Credit:

Elsa, Getty Images. Pictured: Josh Bailey

  • Looking to bet Friday's six-game NHL playoff slate? We've got you covered.
  • Our hockey experts are targeting four bets across four different games, including two player props, one moneyline underdog and one game total.
  • Read on for a complete breakdown on each of our favorite Friday NHL bets.

Would you look at that. There’s hockey all day again on Friday as the Stanley Cup Playoffs roar on with five games beginning at 2 pm ET and ending with a 10:30 p.m. ET start between the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars.

The underdogs started to bark a bit on night three of Round 1. Not only did the Columbus Blue Jackets even their series with the heavily-favored Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Carolina Hurricanes took Game 2 as a short underdog against the Boston Bruins.

What surprises will Friday bring? Our NHL analysts share their favorite bets below:

Sam Hitchcock: Nathan MacKinnon To Score A Goal (+133)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 2 p.m. ET

In betting, few things are more exciting than a sharp reversion to the mean. On DraftKings Sportsbook, the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon is at +133 to score. For a player prop, that is low, but not sickening.

As of this writing, David Pastrnak (before he was scratched) is +108 and Alex Ovechkin is +115. Here’s why a spate of MacKinnon shots seems preordained.

In the Avalanche’s 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday, MacKinnon recorded zero shots on goal. Yes, you read that right. It was the first game of the season – regular and playoffs – where this has happened to him.

In fact, only one other time did MacKinnon notch less than two shots and that was in a March game against the Kings in which he registered only one.

During the regular season, MacKinnon led the NHL in shots with 318, and in five games he belted nine or more shots on goal. He finished ninth in the league in goals and basically can create a shot any time he pleases.

MacKinnon is facing a Coyotes team that needs to play more aggressively since they only produced 14 shots in the series’ opener. Will this result in more instances where the Coyotes try to challenge the Avalanche by trying to push the pace and activate their defensemen?

Probably, and that is a scary notion because during the postseason the Coyotes already permit their opponents 41 shots per 60 minutes at 5-on-5. That is significantly more than the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are next to worst in this metric with just under 34.

In Game 1, the Avalanche nearly tripled the Coyotes in shots, although aside from Nazem Kadri, Colorado had an oddly sluggish performance. It nearly cost the Avs as the score was still tied at zero more than halfway through the third period.

I expect a more vibrant effort from their star players in Game 2 – especially MacKinnon.

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

Michael Leboff: Montreal Canadiens (+138)

  • Odds available at DraftKings [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 3 p.m. ET

If you’ve been betting the Habs this season, you’re probably familiar with this script. Montreal generated more expected goals (2.56 to 1.89), created more high-danger scoring chances (13 to 8) and recorded more shot attempts (56 to 45) than Philadelphia at 5-on-5, meaning the Habs controlled the run of play. In football terms, you’d say that Montreal won the field-position battle.

The Canadiens made a habit of this during the regular season, driving play but nonetheless losing games. They finished third in the NHL with a 54.1% expected goals rate, but the Habs ranked 13th with a 50.8% goal share.

When Montreal landed in the loss column, it was often due to middling goaltending or poor finishing. It was more of the latter on Wednesday, as Carey Price was solid in goal in Game 1.

Montreal needed Price to stand on his head to beat the Penguins, because Pittsburgh dominated on the shot clock. But, that shouldn’t be the case against Philadelphia, because Montreal posted better possession numbers than the Flyers over the regular season.

That isn’t to say that the Canadiens are the better team in this matchup. The Flyers may not blow you away with talent, but they don’t have any glaring weaknesses either. The Flyers can score, they defend well and their goalie is in good form at the moment. Philadelphia deserves to be favored against the Habs, even if Montreal is better than it appears on the surface.

The Flyers’ Game 1 win was less than convincing, but there’s a good chance that the majority of bettors don’t go much further than the final score. Many are happy to take the undefeated Flyers against the lowest seed in the tournament.

Simply put, I think the Canadiens are underrated and the Flyers are overrated. The listed odds for Game 2 (-159/+138) imply that Philadelphia wins this game 59.4% of the time. I’m going to continue selling high on the Flyers and would bet Montreal at +135 or better. And if you’re feeling perky, I don’t hate the idea of backing the Habs at +340 to win the series.

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

Steve Petrella: Canucks-Blues under 5.5 (-132)

  • Odds available at BetMGM [Bet Now]
  • Puck Drop: 6:30 p.m. ET

Best way to make up for having a meager 35 shot attempts at 5-on-5? Go 3-for-6 on the powerplay.

That’s what the Canucks did in a 5-2 win on Wednesday, when the total closed at 5.5 (with the under juiced at -145). That’s pretty much the most juice you’ll see before the books move to 5.

You’re getting a better number on the under in Game 2, despite the 5-on-5 play being rather slow and uneventful on Wednesday.

Case in point — Vancouver star Elias Pettersson didn’t register a single shot at even strength. His linemates J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser registered just three shots total, and they lost the shot attempt battle 38 to 20. St. Louis will have the luxury of last change and the chance to use the Ryan O’Reilly line against Pettersson and Co again.

While one line doesn’t make a hockey team (shout out Toronto) and the Canucks had one of the best power plays in the league this season, this total should be exactly the same as Game 1. Special teams variance is leading to a better price, so I’ll take the under.

[Bet now Blues vs. Canucks at BetMGM. CO, NJ, IN and WV only.]

Pete Truszkowski: Josh Bailey to record a point (+105)

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

Josh Bailey has long been an underappreciated player on the Islanders, even by his own fanbase. He has quietly developed into a solid top-six forward on Long Island.

To kick off this tournament, Josh Bailey has six points in five games. He has recorded a point in four of the five games, so we’re not dealing with a situation where he compiled all of these points in one game. He has two points in each of his last two contests, to boot.

Not only is Bailey putting up points, but he has arguably been the Isles’ best player and is certainly a part of their most effective line thus far.

The Isles are controlling over 61% of shot attempts, 65% of expected goals, and 60% of high-danger chances when Bailey is on the ice. They are also creating 3.45 expected goals per hour with Bailey over the boards, which is the best mark on the team.

Bailey’s linemates, Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier, combined for 44 goals in the regular season. Beauvillier has added four more through five games in the postseason. Bailey is a pass-first player and is setting up two guys who have shown they can put the puck in the net.

Not only does Bailey play on the Isles most efficient line at this point, he also gets considerable power play minutes. Three of his points so far have been while the Isles have had a man advantage.

Putting up points is easier when you’re playing against a below-average goalie and that’s exactly who the Isles are facing. Braden Holtby had under a .900 save percentage during the regular season and allowed four goals on 27 shots in Game 1.

I like Josh Bailey to record a point at any plus-number.

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

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