NHL Betting Guide: Wednesday 8/19/20
The hockey Gods are shining down on us today. We have five games on the NHL schedule, including four elimination games. And with games starting at 12:00 pm EDT there's no time to waste!
Here's what we're looking at!
Blues moneyline (-150): 2-Star Rating Out of 5
Well, it took five games but the St. Louis Blues have finally regained their championship form. In winning the last two, they've snatched all the momentum from the Vancouver Canucks ahead of Game 5. St. Louis has controlled possession, production, output, and goaltending metrics, and are neutralizing a potent Canucks lineup.
Jake Allen deserves a lot of the credit for stabilizing the Blues in the defensive zone. Three years removed from his last playoff start, Allen has stopped 96.2% of shots faced and allowed only four goals through three starts. As we've gathered over the years, St. Louis' success starts in their own end. Having a reliable goaltender appears to make all the difference for the defending Cup Champs.
Vancouver's a young team and they may have missed their chance to put St. Louis on the ropes by taking either of the last two games. The Blues are averaging 13.0 high-danger chances this series, while holding the Canucks to single-digit attempts in three of four. Vancouver's shooting percentage has plummeted with Allen between the pipes. Not only are they managing fewer chances, but they're also scoring on fewer of those opportunities.
If I were a betting man, and Lord knows I am, my money's on the Blues tonight. Vancouver isn't making the most of the few chances they have and Allen seems to have rejuvenated the Blues. The numberFire algorithm also suggests that there's an implied advantage in taking the Blues to win. It's a two-star play, as per our model.
Over 5.5 (-175): 3-Star Play Out of 5
Presumably, and unless the Philadelphia Flyers have lost all sense, this will be the first time Carter Hart starts both games of a back-to-back in his young career. He's shutout the Montreal Canadiens in each of the last two games and backed them into a corner, if they want to move on the next round.
Carey Price has been in this situation before and the limited sample size is not good. He's stopped only 86.4% of shots on the second night of a back-to-back which has resulted in a bloated 3.46 goals-against average. Worse yet, the Habs are winless in those games.
The Flyers have played 12 back-to-backs this season, and only once have both games stayed under the total.
Montreal is averaging 27.8 scoring chances and 12.0 high-danger chances per game this series. The five-goal outburst notwithstanding, Montreal has scored one goal through three games. Either they find a way to beat Hart or eventually, we'll find out Hart's a robot goalie who just can't be beaten. And I'm not mentally prepared to handle a robot goalie taking over the league.
This is a quick turnaround for teams that are both due for offensive progression. FanDuel Sportsbook has dropped this total to 4.5 with the over juiced at -175. According to our projections, there's still a substantive advantage in taking the over, despite the steep price. We rate it as a three-star play.
Over 5.5 (+125): 1-Star Rating Out of 5
I'm sure there's a fable or parable out there about going back to the well too often and running out of water. But if there is, I either didn't learn it or it didn't stick with me. Which is why I'm going back to the well, looking at the over between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canes are hemorrhaging chances against this series, on average, giving up 36.8 scoring chances and 13.3 high-danger opportunities per game. After starting off hot, Carolina's tandem of James Reimer and Petr Mrazek collective save percentage is slowly making its way back down to this season's average. Boston has been limited to an 8.8% shooting percentage this postseason, which will likely climb up as output starts to match production.
Jaroslav Halak has had an inconsistent 2020. If his first two starts this series were any indication, that's not likely to change. Halak stopped 16 of 19 shots in Game 4, after stopping 29 of 30 in his prior start. I'm not counting on Halak to stand on his head in this one. If the Bruins get the offensive start they want, he won't need to either.
In reconciling the betting market with our projections, there's an implied advantage in taking the over 5.5 in this game, which is good enough for a one-star rating.