We’re back again after cashing three of our four best bets on Wednesday. The lone loss was the Oilers on the moneyline, which of course ended in 4-1 blowout-looking fashion, but included two empty-netters for Winnipeg that made the score look a lot worse than it was.
Friday’s slate includes the same four series we handicapped on Wednesday, but home ice has shifted in two of the four, so there’s a little more value to exploit tonight.
Let’s try to build off a nice start to our playoff best bets series and have another winning day to close out the workweek.
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Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals: Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)
Each of the first three games in this series has gone into overtime, the most recent two going the way of the Bruins. Game 3’s ending, while perhaps not fluky per se, was certainly one Washington would like to have back, as a miscommunication between Ilya Samsonov and Justin Schultz left Craig Smith all alone behind a vacated net with the puck. After the game, Alex Ovechkin was visibly upset, snapping his stick and yelling in the direction of his teammates as they skated off the ice.
Many criticize the Capitals’ captain for his behavior, but I think it plays a big role in the start of Game 4. His outburst showed how badly he wants to win, and I don’t think he’ll let his team get outworked like that again. He’s going to have them motivated and flying right from the start and seeing how close this series has been played throughout the first three games, there’s far too much value on Washington as an underdog, regardless if they’re on the road or not.
The Capitals also got their starting goalie back, and despite the gaffe that lost Washington the game, Samsonov was excellent in goal. A huge part of my Game 3 handicap was the potential for Boston to exploit Craig Anderson, but with Samsonov back in net, goaltending is no longer a weakness for Washington.
The Capitals have only lost more than two in a row once this season – all the way back in early February – and Samsonov wasn’t in net for any of those four consecutive losses. I like them to bounce back with some added motivation from their captain, and I think getting +140 odds is a gift after seeing how evenly matched these two teams have been throughout the first three games.
The Pick: Capitals ML +140 (Good to +130)
St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche: Game 3 (COL Leads 2-0)
This is usually a key spot to bet a team in the Blues’ position; down two games to none, coming home for their first game of the series, But, that approach has clearly been built into the line by the bookmakers (Colorado was as low as -360 on the money line in Game 2). It’s been on full display in this series how much better Colorado is than St. Louis.
Many expect the Blues to come out with a vengeance after tempers flared in each of the first two games of this series, and most notably after Nazem Kadri was handed a misconduct for an illegal hit on Justin Faulk. They may be extra fired up out of the gate, but the Avalanche are so much better than the Blues. I don’t think it’ll matter.
Excluding North Division teams, because both series are only one game in, Colorado ranks first among the other 12 playoff teams in Corsi (CF%), Fenwick (FF%), Percent of Shots For (SF%), Percent of Scoring Chances For (SCF%), and High-Danger Goals For (HDGF%), and ranks second in expected goals for (xGF%). This obviously and conversely means St. Louis ranks last in the categories Colorado ranks first in and second-to-last in xGF%. The Avalanche are dominating the Blues in every facet of the game, both in terms of underlying metrics and on the actual scoreboard – they’ve outscored the Blues 10-3 in the series.
Finally, Jordan Binnington looked really sharp for the first two periods of Game 1, but Colorado has proven to be too much to handle. Binnington is last among goalies in the playoffs in goals saved above expected (-1.7). A hot goaltender is the most crucial piece of a deep playoff run, and it’s going to be really difficult for Binnington to catch fire against this skilled of a team in the Avalanche.
The Pick: Avalanche in Regulation -125 (Good to -130)
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Mike Wagenman is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @mjwags23.
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