NHL Betting Guide: Saturday 5/29/21
The second round is nearly set after the Vegas Golden Knights dispatched the Minnesota Wild in Game 7 last night to set up a date with the Colorado Avalanche. That leaves us with a first-round North Division matchup and a second-round East Division matchup tonight, as the NHL continues to progress toward crowning a Stanley Cup winner.
Here are a few plays from our daily projections.
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Canadiens moneyline (+152): 1-Star Rating Out of 5
Under 5.5 (-122): 1-Star Rating Out of 5
The Montreal Canadiens face another must-win game as they try to stave off elimination against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Montreal is the first Canadian team to allow fans in the stands, which only bolsters their chances of winning tonight and forcing a Game 7.
The Habs have been outplayed at five-on-five through all five games so far, but their best efforts have come on home ice. Montreal out-possessed the Leafs in Games 3 and 4 while also out-pacing them in shots and scoring chances metrics across the two games. The Habs couldn't translate any of their production metrics to output, though, as they scored only one goal across the two games. The 1.6% shooting percentage cratered their PDO to .911, implying that they are primed for positive regression.
Toronto has been dominant throughout this series but less so on the road. The Leafs have averaged 35.0 shots, 31.3 scoring chances, and 12.3 high-danger chances at home, compared to 28.5 shots, 26.0 scoring chances, and 11.0 high-danger opportunities on the road. Those decreased road metrics aren't unique to the postseason, though, as the Leafs were outplayed in seven of 12 road games to end the season, putting up diminished production metrics in those games, as well.
The Bell Centre is a notoriously challenging venue to play in, which only helps the Habs chances today. The betting market is low on the Habs, and based on our projections, that leaves an advantage in backing them. Habs moneyline and under 5.5 are both rated as one-star plays.
Islanders +1.5 (-188): 2-Star Rating Out of 5
The Boston Bruins and New York Islanders have the honor of kicking off the second round when puck drops in Game 1 tonight in Boston. Both teams rely on staunchly defensive systems, which should help keep tonight's game close.
Boston limited the Washington Capitals to nine or fewer high-danger chances and 27 or fewer scoring opportunities at five-on-five in every game of the first round. On average, the Bruins gave up 22.2 scoring chances and 6.0 high-danger chances per game. Those metrics jumped to 29.0 and 9.2, respectively, across all strengths, illustrating their tidy defensive zone coverage that is nearly impenetrable.
When opponents create chances, they still have to get past Tuukka Rask, who stopped 94.1% of shots in the first round. Rask's save percentage is only slightly above his career playoff save percentage of 92.7%, implying that goals will be at a premium again this series.
However, the Islanders have an equivalent goaltending presence in Ilya Sorokin. Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov flip-flopped between starts in the opening round before Sorokin impressed and remained in the starter's crease. Through four games, Sorokin stopped 94.3% of shots with a goals-against-average of 1.95.
The Islanders also rely on blanketing defensive zone coverage to limit their opponents. Through six games against the offensively gifted Pittsburgh Penguins, New York allowed an average of 29.5 scoring chances at five-on-five, with 9.7 of those coming from high-danger areas. Not an easy system to crack.
These teams play similar defensive styles that should result in a tight-checking game with neither team pulling away. As such, there's value in backing the Islanders on the puckline, rated as a two-star play, per our projections.