Thursday NHL Best Bets: Top Picks for Panthers vs Maple Leafs, Kraken vs Stars
Sam Hodde/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Dallas Stars
- Our NHL Best Bets for Game 2 action on Thursday features Panthers vs. Maple Leafs and Kraken vs. Stars.
- Our hockey experts have four bets for the doubleheader on TNT, including three picks for the first game.
- Check out all of their analysis, including a first-period play in the second game, below.
Check out our NHL Game 2 best bets from our crew of hockey experts for Thursday, May 4.
The 2022-23 NHL postseason officially rolls on as two visiting teams look to go 2-0 on the road during these second-round games.
Below, check out our hockey crew’s top picks, including Panthers vs. Maple Leafs and Kraken vs. Stars, for the playoff games.
Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Player Prop
Greg Liodice: Ilya Samsonov has been such a welcomed addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs. For a team that has desperately been trying to find its goalie of the future, Samsonov has given the Leafs something they’ve been looking for for years: a playoff series win.
Toronto was stunned on Tuesday after losing to the Florida Panthers in Game 1, but the Panthers are far from surprising anyone anymore. Florida knocked off the historic run the Bruins had this season, and the Panthers will now look to continue their “giant-slayer” gimmick.
The Panthers don’t generate a ton of shots – just about the league average. But when they do take shots, they’re typically high-end chances. They average just under 32 shots per game, but they also average 3.75 goals per game. There was only one game in these playoffs in which they generated over 33 shots. At that rate, opposing goalies will be lucky to get more than 30 saves.
Florida’s a scrappy team, and it’ll find its way to generating premium opportunities. The Panthers are a “quality not quantity” type of team, which makes me think Samsonov will only nab under 29.5 saves in Game 2.
Pick: Ilya Samsonov under 29.5 saves (-118)
Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Player Prop
Tony Sartori: The Toronto Maple Leafs host the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of this NHL Eastern Conference second-round series on Thursday evening. For those who were able to catch Game 1, you saw a Toronto team that utterly dominated over the second and third periods and somehow potted only two goals.
Following a game in which the Leafs found high-danger scoring areas with relative ease and just could not get a bounce to go their way, look for positive regression to strike in Game 2, especially for superstar forward Auston Matthews. After utterly dominating the opening round against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a series in which Matthews racked up four assists and five goals over six games, No. 34 was held goal-less in Game 1 against Florida.
However, his blue prints were all over the ice, notching six shots on goal while skating an absurd 24 minutes and 13 seconds. Despite not finding the back of the net, Matthews finished third among all skaters in expected goals.
Positive regression is looming, especially against a Panthers team not known for keeping opposing teams out of high-danger scoring areas. This season, Florida ranked just 21st in the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) at five-on-five.
These results make sense considering that the Panthers’ two best defensemen – Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour – are both offensive-minded. Outside of Radko Gudas, this team does not really have an efficient shut-down defenseman.
Matthews is going to get the minutes and the shots on goal, and considering the miracle it took for Florida to allow only two goals in Game 1, we should expect a bounce-back performance from the Leafs and their stars in Game 2.
Pick: Auston Matthews anytime goalscorer (+108)
Panthers vs. Maple Leafs Parlay
Nicholas Martin: Prior to this series, fans and analysts alike were excited about the potential for high-event, high-scoring hockey. So naturally the vast majority of bettors, such as myself, were on the over 6.5 in Game 1.
That angle missed with the game, which has a 4-2 final, but that scoreline was a complete anomaly when considering the type of game that actually took place.
Both teams generated a ton of strong looks, and on another day, we might have seen 10 goals. In particular, it was very clear that the high-powered Leafs created lots of legitimate scoring opportunities, but they were foiled as some of their top finishers had an off night.
Toronto generated 5.80 expected goals in the matchup, but Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 of 36 shots and was masterful. Those shots included a ton of quality chances to excellent shooters such as Auston Matthews and William Nylander.
Florida has some very gettable pieces on the back end, and I believe the team will continue to allow lots of quality chances against. Marc Staal, in particular, continues to be exposed badly playing second-pairing minutes.
There’s a good chance this game looks similar to Game 1. If it does, we should be very happy to have the Leafs with the over at +161, as I believe more often than not that would result in something like a 5-3 Leafs victory.
Kraken vs. Stars Puck Line (1st Period)
Ryan Dadoun: Joe Pavelski returned from a concussion Tuesday and scored four goals, but Dallas wasted his efforts in a 5-4 overtime loss to Seattle in the series opener. The Stars had an uncharacteristically bad start, allowing four goals in the first period, and I’m looking for that to motivate them to do better out of the gate Thursday.
What Seattle accomplished Tuesday was a rare feat. Dallas was a strong first-period team in the regular season, outscoring the competition 86-59. That goal differential of 27 was the fourth-best of any team in the first period and was well ahead of the Kraken’s plus-10 in their opening frame during the 2022-23 campaign.
We’re also likely to see Jake Oettinger tighten up Thursday. He’s one of the league’s top goaltenders and excelled in Dallas’ first-round series against Minnesota, posting a 2.01 GAA and .929 save percentage, so Seattle will have a tough time getting to him early again.
Add in Dallas’ need to win this game to avoid falling behind 2-0 going into Seattle, and we should be in for a strong start from the Stars.
Pick: Pick: Dallas Stars puck line (-0.5), first period (+142)
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