Best NHL betting pick for Saturday, May 29
Saturday’s NHL Playoff Shortlist features the potential conclusion of a Round 1 series and the start of what should be a hotly contested second-round series.
Granted, it’s hard to support a team in either of these games. The Toronto Maple Leafs are -190 road favorites against the desperate Montreal Canadiens (+170), while the Boston Bruins are -185 home favorites against the New York Islanders (+165). While both underdogs show current value, I just can’t afford to back them.
So for today’s best bet, I’m heading to the totals market:
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Less than 5.5 (-121) in Montreal-Toronto
The Montreal-Toronto series was one of the lower-rated first-round clashes. The under is 3-2 in the series, and there have been three games with four total goals or less.
As I wrote in my Thursday post, the Canadiens struggled to convert to their high-risk opportunities early in the series. That changed in Game 5, as the Habs lit the lamp four times to send the series home. Montreal relied on horrific goals to take a 3-0 lead which they almost gave up in Game 5. Puck luck eventually turned in Montreal’s direction in Game 5, but I had to. Hard to see that continue against a Toronto team who control the game throughout the series with an expected 58.82 goalscoring percentage. Canadiens goalie Carey Price has allowed questionable goals throughout the series, but I expect him to be locked up at home with his team’s season on the line.
I’m also relying on a bit of history with this pick, as goal averages tend to decline in Games 6 and 7 of a playoff series. The teams tighten up and play hockey with more risk aversion in the later stages of the series. Of course, you’re also talking to the guy who got the least in Game 7 of the Vegas-Minnesota Series, and that game saw six Golden Knights goals alone… That’s why they call it the game!
Thoughts on the Bruins-Islanders
The Islanders deserve all the credit in the world for finding a way to end their first-round streak against Pittsburgh. However, there were some really ugly stretches in this series where New York City clearly seemed inferior to the Penguins. The goalie game made the difference, as New York’s Ilya Sorokin was far superior to Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry between the posts.
It’s kind of how the Islanders are built to win under coach Barry Trotz. Keep the games close, be opportunistic on the offensive end and let the goalkeeper make the difference. That strategy might not work as well against a loaded Bruins lineup that includes The Perfection Line from Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, as well as the commercial acquisition Taylor Hall. New York will also face a much tougher test in the goal against Tukka Rask.
Although I think Boston is the top team, putting -185 in Game 1 is too high a price for me. If you want to bet on the Bruins without drinking so much juice, I recommend taking Boston to gain regulation, which is just -109.
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