NHL Odds: How To Bet Stanley Cup Playoff Conference Finals

Find an edge when betting player props

by

May 31

The Eastern and Western Conferences are down to two teams each in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Edmonton Oilers head to Colorado to take on the Avalanche in Game 1 on Tuesday, and the Tampa Bay Lightning are on the road to face the Rangers on Wednesday. Make sure to tune in to “Lunch Line” at 1 p.m. ET every day as well as the “Ultimate Betting Show” at 5:30 p.m. on NESN for official Stanley Cup playoff plays from the NESNBets team.

For now, let’s go through some ways to attack these series.

Let’s talk about the West first with the Oilers taking on the Avalanche. Looking at FanDuel Sportsbook, the Avalanche are heavy -240 favorites to win the series. You can get the Oilers at +195 to win. That means, if you bet the Oilers, you risk $100 to make $195. The favorite series correct score is Avalanche to win the series 4-1 at around +370. Clearly, the bookmakers have a lot of respect for the Avs (projecting just a five-game series), which is no surprise as they were considered the best team in hockey this season.

Bookmakers set the total combined goals scored in Game 1 to 6.5, which was immediately bet up to seven, indicating money coming in on the over. A high total means a high number of shots on goal. Now, because there are only four teams left in the playoffs, these lines are tight and it’s hard to find an edge. When there are fewer games, players, etc. for books to have to set lines for, the numbers are usually spot on.

However, there are certainly still opportunities to make money on these last few series. For example, if you don’t want to take a side or the total, look at some props. With a game that has a high set total, shots on goal is one of my favorite props to look at.

Now, of course, with this series, two names come to mind first: Connor McDavid and Nathan Mackinnon. That’s the case for most bettors too, which means McDavid and Mackinnon will be seeing lots of bets with one-way action (to the over.) There are other names on the roster that you might actually find an edge with instead. For example, did you know that Oilers center Zach Hyman and forward Evander Kane lead the team in shots on goal in the postseason, with even more shots than Connor McDavid? Or that Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar has the second-most shots on goal in the postseason behind Nathan Mackinnon? Volume of shots is one of the most important stats to look at when betting a shots on goal prop. You can also look to see how many shots on goal a certain player’s line is producing, and how many shots on goal a certain team allows to a certain position. There are more stats you can research to help find an edge, but those are some of the main numbers I look at when handicapping this particular prop.

In the East, the Lightning look to three-peat and the Rangers look to, well, crush those hopes of Tampa Bay fans. The bookmakers at FanDuel made the Lightning around -190 favorites to win the series, with the Rangers valued at +160. Bookmakers gave a little more respect to the Rangers here than the Oilers, with the series correct score favorite being Lighting 4-2 at around +360. For Game 1, bookmakers set the total at 5.5 — a goal and a half less than the Western series. That number alone tells you this is going to be more of a defensive and goaltending battle.

While this is still a series where you can look at shots on goal, you can also look at some goalie props. Goalie props include goals saved and goals against. Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin is hot right now with the most goals saved above expected (11.4), the most wins above replacement (1.91) and saves on shots on goal (474) of any goalie in 2022 postseason hockey. However, Shesterkin is giving all the credit to his counterpart, Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Shesterkin said it himself in a media availability, calling Vasilevskiy “the best goalie in the world right now.” Vasilevskiy is second behind Shesterkin in GSAE (11.0), second in WAR (1.83) and third in saves on shots on goal (434). These numbers don’t mean everything, but they are helpful when betting goalie props and give you an idea of their performance beyond the box score. Shot generation and shot suppression are known as two of the best stats for goalie props, as well. Look at the game logs from this postseason, each team’s volume of shots on goal, and keep in mind the game script (the team trailing generally gets a larger share of the shots.)

Again, these lines are tight but if you do the research and find an edge, win or lose, you’re taking the right approach and that process alone will help you become a profitable bettor in the end.

Thumbnail photo via Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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