With just a few games left in the regular season, mostly in the North Division, teams who’ve clinched a playoff berth are starting to give their top contributors some rest in preparation for the second-season grind, while the teams who have been eliminated from playoff contention are giving their top prospects a look at the NHL level.
That being said, tread lightly these last few days of the season. Some teams aren’t playing for anything. Their playoff seed or draft slot – lottery pending – is all but decided. So, there’s a pretty high likelihood that some bets we feel really strongly about get flipped upside down thanks to a third-string goalie getting a late-announced start or a star top-liner deciding to rest a nagging ankle injury instead of pushing through in a game that does not affect the season’s outcome.
This article is being released Wednesday afternoon, so be sure to check on starting netminders and late healthy scratches before placing your wagers. Case and point, take a look at the Providen… I mean Boston Bruins lineup on Tuesday against the Capitals.
Without further delay, my best NHL bets for Wednesday, May 12th.
Compare odds from all major sportsbooks for today’s games >>
Vegas Golden Knights Regulation Line (-130) / Puck Line -1.5 (+120)
Half a unit on each is my recommendation. I mentioned in the intro that checking the goalies and the lines before placing your bet(s) is of paramount importance this time of year. However, in this one, I don’t think we’re in much danger of the Golden Knights taking this game lightly, seeing as they’re in a dogfight with the Avalanche for the coveted number one seed in the West.
That’s one reason I like the Knights tonight – motivation. This is their final game of the regular season; a win gives them 82 points on the year. Division-rival Colorado has two games to go, and if they win both, they’ll also have 82 points. The tiebreaker would go to the Avalanche, but believe me, Vegas isn’t going to assume Colorado is coming out with all four points to end the year, and they’re going to do everything they possibly can to put themselves in the best possible position to win the division. Eighty-two points would also seal the President’s Trophy, and if Colorado stumbles, would lock Vegas into home-ice advantage for as long as they’re able to stay alive in the playoffs.
The Golden Knights have also absolutely dominated the West lately – 14 wins in their last 17 games, to be exact – and have also completely blanked the Sharks (tonight’s opponent) all year long. They’re 7-0-0 against San Jose in 2021, out-scoring them 27-14 across the seven meetings. That nets out to a 3.9-2.0 average score, which would cover both of our half-unit bets.
San Jose is also reeling to end the season. They’ve dropped 13 of their last 16 and have only collected nine of a possible 32 points in the last month. The Sharks are also allowing four goals per game across their last six contests, going 1-3-2.
I expect the Golden Knights to come out with their hair on fire to end the year on a high note and put themselves in a position to lock up home ice throughout the playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers Moneyline (-120)
This line has been moving all over the place. I’ve seen the Oilers as high as -105 and as low as -135, but right now, the consensus seems to be -120. I wish we got a little bit better of a number, but I’m content laying a little extra to try and exploit a Canadiens team who is absolutely limping into the postseason.
Unlike our Vegas bet, this one will really be tied to the goalies and the active players, so again, please be sure to check before placing a wager. Neither team really has anything to play for at this point. Both teams are locked into their seeds in the postseason, and Connor McDavid eclipsed the 100-point mark already. But Edmonton is red hot, and Montreal is ice cold, and that’s how I expect them to finish this season.
Edmonton has won five of their last six, seven of their last nine, and nine of their last 12 games heading into the season finale. They’re averaging four goals per game during their mini six-game run as well. On the other side of the ice, Montreal is struggling. Badly. They’re 0-3-1 over the last week while being outscored 17-8, all while the motivation of locking up a playoff berth was dangling in front of them. Concerning, to say the least, especially as they prepare to face the Maple Leafs in the opening round.
Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly to some, the Oilers’ underlying metrics aren’t overly impressive. They’re 16th in the league in xGF%, CF%, and HDCF% per NaturalStatTrick, which is somewhat odd for a team that ranks ninth in total goals for. Essentially, they’re driven solely by the aforementioned McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
McDavid’s iXG, or his individual goals for metric, ranks third in the NHL while Draisaitl ranks ninth. They and Toronto’s Auston Matthews and John Tavares are the only teammates inside the top nine in iXG. McDavid also tops the NHL in GameScore average per Hockey Stat Cards, an amalgam of underlying metrics like xGF, CF%, and more – with an average score of 1.94. That’s 0.07 points better than second-place Nathan MacKinnon, and for context, MacKinnon is just 0.01 points better than third-place Matthews. Draisaitl ranks ninth in average GameScore.
In a motivationally questionable game, I’m willing to ride with the best players on the ice, both of whom play for the Oilers. I expect them to come out flying, looking to enter the postseason on as high of a note as possible.
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