Top NHL Betting Picks For Friday, May 14th (2021)

With just one game on the docket tonight in the NHL, a game with no playoff implications whatsoever, I’ll keep this short and sweet. After sweeping all three bets on Wednesday, let’s try to make it a perfect 4-0 week before we head into the grind of the NHL playoffs.

The Maple Leafs and Jets close out their regular season tonight, as both get prepared for the North Division playoffs. The Jets won’t start their postseason until next Wednesday, while the Maple Leafs won’t kick off their series with Montreal until Thursday. With such long layoffs, we may not see as many rested players as I originally anticipated, but I still think there are strong enough signals to play the under in tonight’s matchup.

The under currently sits at 6 (-115) at most books. One or two have even dropped the line to 5.5 but have the under listed at plus-money. I wouldn’t play 5.5, and despite the total already dropping by a half-goal from 6.5, I still think it’s the right side here. There are two factors at play: rest and goaltending – and both lead me to believe we won’t be seeing a ton of goals tonight, despite these two teams eclipsing the six-goal mark in five of their nine previous matchups this season.

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The Potential of Resting Key Skaters

Starting with rest, teams who’ve locked up their playoff position have been strategically resting their better players over the course of the past week or so. I mentioned the nearly week-long layoff for both of these teams before their postseason runs begin, but I still think there’s a chance that a few key guys on each side sit and watch this game from the press box. Even if both teams send out a nearly playoff-ready roster, I can’t imagine stars like Auston Matthews and Blake Wheeler seeing their usual 18-20 minutes of ice time. The risk of injury is just too high in a game where absolutely nothing at all is at stake.

When teams send out makeshift lines with players who haven’t exactly played together all year or have spent most of the year in the minors, the chemistry isn’t there. It takes a while to develop; certainly more time than one game. Use the Bruins vs. Capitals matchup from Tuesday as an example. Boston essentially dressed its AHL team, and Washington started their backup netminder. That game ended 2-1, with the final goal being scored by the Capitals’ Michael Raffl with less than two seconds left in the third period.

Confidence in Between the Pipes

Secondly, goaltending. The Jets have already announced that Connor Hellebuyck is starting, which is great for the under, and probably one of the key reasons this total dropped from 6.5 to 6 in the blink of an eye. Hellebuyck had a down year by his standards; he currently owns a .915 save percentage (22nd in the NHL) and a 2.60 goals-against average (24th). But, if Toronto will send anything but its A+ roster at Hellebuyck, it’s advantage Hellebuyck.

And on the other side, it really doesn’t matter who Toronto starts in goal. Frederik Anderson and Jack Campbell aren’t all that far apart in my eyes, despite the stats favoring Campbell. Both are solid, neither are a liability. Anderson has had a down year plagued by injuries, but regardless of who starts, I expect him to hold up his end of the bargain against a Jets team that’s a bit banged up, on top of the potential of resting players. We prefer Jack Campbell, but it’s not a deal-breaker if we get an Anderson start.

The Pick: Maple Leafs / Jets UNDER 6 (-115)

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