NHL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Nick Martin’s Best Bets for Friday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Games (May 6)
Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured (left to right): Mike Smith, Darnell Nurse, Connor McDavid, Cody Ceci, Jesse Puljujarvi and Evander Kane.
As we see consistently with the NBA, a huge part of betting player props includes sticking with the same players when the right angle is in place and riding it out until prices are adjusted.
This doesn’t mean chasing a play and doubling down after losses. This means that over a large sample of games, we continue to believe a player is going to hit a certain number at a high enough rate to hold value at the price offered, and we will keep riding through losses.
This idea comes into play with several of my plays on this slate, especially considering that the playoffs are played in a set environment within a series.
Taylor Hall Over 2.5 Shots on Goal (+100)
My read on Taylor Hall entering Game 1 of this series was that he would again play a prominent role after an excellent Game 1, and it would be worth betting him to hit over 2.5 shots at +100.
Well, the play missed with Hall putting just two shots on goal, but the merit of it looked correct. And at plus money for three to actually hit the net, this is a good one to stay with.
Hall had hit over 2.5 in five straight games prior to Game 2, averaging 4.8 shots per game during that span.
Hall had seven shot attempts (five unblocked) in Game 2. He again had the puck often, and the number of attempts didn’t come by accident, which is something I like to consider looking at shot props.
Having just two was well below his recent average, and based on his gameplay, was simply unlikely. Getting a plus number for him to put three on net certainly holds value, and I would play this down to -110.
Evander Kane Over 3.5 Shots on Goal (+130)
Sticking with the ride-it-out narrative, let’s look toward Evander Kane, who also fell one short for us Wednesday — and in controversial fashion. Kane scored two goals and had two shots aside from that, which left many feeling the bet had been incorrectly graded.
However, the league made a justified ruling that Kane’s first of the contest was of the own-goal variety, and in turn, did not credit a shot. Even still, Kane hit three with six attempts with a game script that was far from ideal.
Kane has been absolutely crushing this number with the Oilers, which has been no surprise when watching how engaged he has been. The fact he’s playing alongside Connor McDavid and has a clear willingness to try borderline shots from the outside makes it even better.
Still, getting +130 is simply a number we should stick with considering that he has averaged 5.12 shots per game over his last eight while hitting this number six times during that span.
I see some value backing Kane to put four on net down to +120.
William Nylander Over 2.5 Shots on Goal (-130)
Nylander has had a strong start to this series after a tremendous performance in the playoffs last season.
Sheldon Keefe has decided to shake up his units and put Nylander back on line two with Tavares, which is perfectly fine with us here.
I liked that Nylander would dominate in a bottom-six role in Game 2, but the potential for bigger minutes here is also great. If I’m Keefe coaching this Game 3, I’m sending my top-two units as much as possible with a do-or-die attitude — especially considering the fourth-line has essentially just been good for taking penalties in this series.
Nylander has hit four shots in each game of this series with at least six attempts in each.
I’m still torn between this and Nylander to score as my favorite plays on this game, but I will elect to go with the safer option and would play Nylander to hit three shots to -135.
Bruins vs. Hurricanes Under 6 (-120)
So far, this series has offered far higher scorelines than I expected through two games, which has come due to a combination of factors.
Game 1 ending 5-1 and blowing up the under 5.5 was simply unlikely, while Game 2 saw an absolute mess of penalties, and the Bruins completely unraveled.
However, with those two results pushing this number back up to 6 and not 5.5, I see value getting back on the narrative I expected entering this series: two of the league’s very best defensive clubs making offense extremely hard to come by.
Opponents aren’t going to win by just trying to open things up and generate cheap chances on this Carolina team, and I think Boston figured that out pretty, specifically in a messy Game 2.
We should see Boston play a far better game tonight, which should mean fewer goals scored than anything, especially with Jeremy Swayman getting the start in goal.
Swayman was altogether the Bruins’ better starter in the regular season, and although Linus Ullmark wasn’t awful in Game 1, it seemed surprising that the result wasn’t enough to let Swayman have a go in Game 2.
It’s concerning that Carolina will have Pyotr Kochetkov in goal for his first NHL playoff start, but Kochetkov was respectable with a -1.0 goals saved above expected rating and .902 save % in three regular-season games.
More importantly, we know Carolina will likely insulate him very effectively with excellent defensive play.
For these reasons, I see value sweating the under 6 at -120 and would play 6 down to -130.