Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NHL Playoff Picks and Predictions for Sunday August 16

Stanley Cup Playoffs NHL Best Bets

Games set for Sunday, August 16, 2020
To be played in Toronto and Edmonton

NHL Favorite Best Bet

Matchup: St Louis vs Vancouver
TV-Time: NBCSN, 10:30 p.m. ET

St. Louis -132

It's basically now or never for the defending champs, as they've dug themselves an 0-2 hole in this series already. Suspect play by last year's hero G Jordan Binnington has the Blues searching for answers, and if they do make the switch to Jake Allen tonight, I would actually look towards the 'over' in this game as well (I do not think highly of Allen). But you can understand why a switch could be made as this Blues team needs a spark to ignite in a hurry.

The Blues were a perfect 2-0 SU last season after losing two consecutive playoff games and facing the same team again, so bouncing back from having their backs against the wall is something they know they can do. Having yet to win a game in the bubble is a little concerning, but I've been willing to back the Blues at higher prices in this series so far, so with the price dropping it's worth going back to the well one final time to see the defending champs step up in the face of some adversity.

NHL Underdog Best Bet

Matchup:Dallas vs Calgary
TV-Time: NBCSN, 2 p.m. ET

Calgary ML +102

This isn't the first time I've gone in these pieces during these playoffs and preached about Calgary being much better than a typical #8 seed and a team that's undervalued because of it. They've grabbed a 2-1 series lead against Dallas, a team that was probably a bit overrated in the sense that had the regular season continued as is, a Top 4 seed probably wasn't going to be in the cards for the Stars.

Also, the series situation of Dallas “needing” a win today to even up the series has forced the slightest adjustment in the pregame line here with the Stars sitting at -120 when they were never above -114 in any of the previous three games.

I get why that is, but don't agree with it at all, as 2020 appears to be the year the Flames go on that deep playoff run that the majority of the hockey world was expecting from them in 2019 when they were the top seed in the West.

NHL Over-Under Total Best Bet

Matchup: Las Vegas vs Chicago
TV-Time: NBCSN, 6:30 p.m. ET

Las Vegas/Chicago Over 6

We got rather lucky in cashing the Colorado/Arizona 'over' yesterday with three goals in the final two minutes, but what that result ultimately did was continue the run of 5+ goals scored in back-to-back games in these NHL playoffs.

The qualifying round saw an average of 6.5 goals scored per game played without rest, and so far in this round we've had a 2-0 win from Calgary, and yesterday's 4-2 win for the Coyotes. Today it's up to the Knights and Hawks turn to keep that momentum train rolling and with Chicago trying to stave off elimination, it does appear to be a good situational spot to expect goals.

For years I've had this general handicapping “guideline” that in elimination games of playoff series, you should always lean towards the 'under', except if it's a potential sweep. For whatever reason, these Game 4 potential elimination games tend to get both sides playing really loose for a variety of reasons.

The team up 3-0 plays loose because they know in the back of their minds that they can afford a misstep at that point, so why not go out and be ultra-aggressive and try to bury the team they've already beaten three times. Typically that leads to plenty of chances offensively, and numerous chances against defensively as well.

On the other side of the coin, you have a team that's down 3-0 in the series and really has no choice but to go out their and throw everything they've got at their opponent to try and stay alive. Chicago's already a team that's built to win with their offense and win 4-3 or 5-4 type games, and if the Hawks do decide to show up and fight for their season, that's the scoreline I ultimately expect.

Given that this year is rather unique in the bubble and there is a big fear that Chicago could just pack things in tonight and just want to head home to their families, this 'over' play does bring some caution with it as well. In the end though, I'll stick to what's typically worked in the past. If it turns out the Hawks no-show and lose the game 2-0 or something like that, it might be time to simply skip over these potential-sweep 'overs' for the rest of these playoffs.

But firing here is a risk worth taking in my opinion, as last round we had two plays that would have fit this scenario – Carolina/NYR Game 3 and NYI/Florida Game 3 – and both finished with five goals exactly. Given the offensive talent Vegas and Chicago have relative to those squads (and for the most part a “weaker” defensive game), asking for 6+ goals tonight isn't a huge ask.

NHL Prop Best Bet

Matchup: Philadelphia vs Montreal
TV-Time: NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET

Both teams to score in the 1st period Yes (+225)

It's a critical “swing” Game 3 for these two teams tied at a game apiece, and through six periods of action so far, only once have we seen these two teams trade goals. Philly has been a dead 'under' team during their entire bubble stay – 0-5 O/U – and dating back to the regular year, the Flyers are on a 0-8 O/U run overall. And if you've followed along with these pieces recently, you'll know my feelings on blindly riding streaks like that.

So rather than discuss the 'over' for the full game (which I do like), I'll take a stab at both teams to light the lamp in the 1st period.

Who knows how confident Flyers goalie Carter Hart will be early on (presuming he starts) following getting pulled last time out, and offensively, Philly's got to find a way to crack Carey Price early.

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