Playoff hockey is practically must-bet material at top online sportsbooks. If you want to get in on the fun (and money), then read what our best NHL playoff betting picks are this weekend. We have picks on three different games and there all yours for free!
Over/Under 5.5 Goals: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina hasn’t lost any of its first five home games in the playoffs so far. Going back to the regular season, the Canes are 34-8-4 when playing on its home ice. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the most popular NHL betting sites have them as -175 favorites on the moneyline. There’s not much betting value there if you believe they’ll indeed win (which we do), but there is value on the game’s over/under of 5.5 goals.
|Over 5.5 goals||-110||-110|
|Under 5.5 goals||-110||-110|
Game 1 between these two teams was a snoozer, ending in a 2-1 victory for Carolina. But that’s to be expected from both sides. These teams ranked one and two in goals against during the regular season (Canes were first with 200 allowed, while the Rangers were right behind at 204). Will that suddenly change? We don’t see it, hence why we’re hammering the under 5.5 goals — and we mean hammering it.
Both teams are led by can’t-get-past-them goaltenders. For the Rangers, Igor Shesterkin is likely to win the Vezina Trophy given to the league’s best goalie. He’s also a Hart Trophy Finalist, which shows you his value to this New York team. In the last three games alone, Shesterkin has a whopping 99 saves. We’d be shocked if he allows more than two goals in Game 2 of this series.
Admittedly, the Hurricanes’ goalkeeper Antti Raanta isn’t nearly as dominant, but he sure is playing with a lot of confidence. The backup has been thrust in the starting role this postseason and has held his own for the most part. With the soothing presence of Raanta and Shesterkin on goalie, another under is in sight for this series.
Against The Spread: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames
Edmonton and Calgary’s Game 1 couldn’t possibly be more opposite that of Carolina and New York’s. Get this, the teams went off for a combined 15 goals in the series opener, a game that was ultimately won by Calgary via three goals. Despite the scoring frenzy, we have our eyes dead set on the Oilers-Flames Game 2 spread:
|Calgary spread (-1.5)||+145||+145|
|Edmonton spread (+1.5)||-165||-165|
When examining this next game, you have to start with Edmonton goaltender “controversy.” It hasn’t been completely decided who will play. Usual starter Mike Smith (who is rumored to get the Game 2 nod) was benched only six minutes into Game 1. His replacement at the position Mikko Koskinen wasn’t much better either. That leaves the Oilers with no good option to guard the net. Tell me, does that sound like a team you want to wager alongside? Especially on the road?
Hell no. The “safe” bet would just be to take the Calgary moneyline, but we’re going the riskier route and taking them on the spread. We don’t really see any scenario where the Oilers suddenly fix its goaltending AND defensive issues (they didn’t help their goalie at all).
Moreover, Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom is one of the finer players league-wide at defending the net. He had an uncharacteristically terrible Game 1 himself. We can’t imagine a repeat performance in Game 2. No way the Oilers — despite its potent offense — are getting six goals past him again. All this sets up a Calgary win by at least two goals to cover.
Moneyline: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Is it time to stick the fork in the Panthers, the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy winner? We think so. They’re down 2-0 in the series (dropping both games at home) and now are in a must-win game in the Lightning's home arena. This is where we’ll see what Florida is made out of, which is probably just unfulfilled ambition. Bet the Tampa Bay moneyline — and if you’re feeling extra risky, consider taking them on the spread.
Despite winning 58 games in the regular season, Florida hasn’t been able to shake off the chatter of “chokers” that’s followed the franchise for decades now. Sure, it won its first playoff series since 1996 during the last round, but this was supposed to be its first “real” test — against the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions. And the Panthers have failed so miserably, being outscored 6-2 so far this series, that you have to believe their confidence is shot right now.
That’s an extremely precarious position to be in whilst on the road and against this Lightning team, a team that finds an extra gear when the pressure is on — unlike its in-state counterparts. Therefore, you have to take Tampa to win come Game 3.
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