Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NHL Playoff Picks and Predictions for Monday August 17

Stanley Cup Playoffs NHL Best Bets

Games set for Monday, August 17, 2020
To be played in Toronto and Edmonton

NHL Favorite Best Bet

Matchup: Boston vs. Carolina
TV-Time: NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET

Boston -127

Tuukka Rask leaving the bubble has brought many thoughts with it and to criticize him and say that he “quit” on his team is not entirely wrong. In any other scenario leaving your team as a professional player in the midst of a playoff series would be interpreted that way. But inside a bubble – where these guys are kept under strict rules and allowed “out” for three hours a day to “perform” for the world – the mental health of these guys, especially those with young families seems to get overlooked by fans and bettors alike just happy to have sports back for their own selfish reasons so their own businesses/fandom can get going again.

One foot in the locker room and one foot yearning to be at home wasn't helping anyone in Rask's case and he made a choice. It's not the popular one for fans, but what it does do inside that Bruins locker room is magnify the need to be fully committed to this process if the best results are desired. And to be honest, I'm not even sure Rask will be the first player to opt-out of these bubble formats (NHL or NBA) as the weeks go on and the feelings of isolation get deeper and deeper. If/when that happens it will be interesting to see if that “quit on his team” narrative stays consistent from those same voices. Especially if it happens for a guy on one of the teams they support.

On the ice, Rask's departure caused the knee-jerk reaction from the market to believe that “Boston was done” now as if no team has ever won a game/series with a “backup” playing. The absurdity of loud mouths in this business really is hilarious to me at times, and when it bleeds into the market it only presents great opportunities to look the other way.

Halak performed very well in Game 3 and I believe will continue to do so for the rest of Boston's stay in Toronto, no matter how long that is. There was a time when it was a serious question for Montreal on whether to keep Halak or Carey Price as their starter, and while that was some time ago now, Halak still has the ability to put forth those game-stealing efforts.

Furthermore, it looks like the Bruins will get David Pastranak back in some capacity tonight, while the Hurricanes lose first-liner Andrei Svechnikov. That's a huge edge in roster construction for the Bruins, and it's probably behind some of the 10-cent plus, jump we've already seen in Boston's line since the opener.

That's a move I can easily follow here, and here's why. Rask leaving, while stinging at first, had to also act as a galvanizing thing inside that Bruins locker room as to the commitment of everyone in there. If there was some concern/dissension, we likely would have seen Boston somewhat fold up shop in Game 3 and then go through the motions the rest of the way. But the exact opposite happened as Boston played their most complete game as a team on both ends of the ice in Game 3, as it appears as though the guys that decided to remain are fully committed to one another the rest of the way.

Now they get one of their best offensive weapons back in Pastranak, and see a Carolina lineup in flux, needing different line combinations to make up for the Svechnikov loss. Add it all up and anything under -130 is a relative steal in my view for Boston tonight.

NHL Underdog Best Bet

Matchup:Colorado vs. Arizona
TV-Time: NBCSN, 5:30 p.m. ET

Arizona ML +160

The Coyotes managed to steal Game 3 to climb back into the series, despite getting out-shot 51-23 in the game. That game echoed what Game 1 looked like for the Coyotes in the shot department (Colorado out-shot Arizona 40-14 in the opener) and the Coyotes offense managed to flip the result. That's only a good thing for this young team going forward and to me, it puts them in a nice live spot tonight at this price.

After getting dominated in Game 1 like they did, Arizona responded very well in Game 2, actually outshooting the Avs in that game (32-28) and just got burned by a late goal that they didn't have time to recover from.

Well, if they are able to follow a similar script today and have the game tied going into the 3rd, I'll gladly take a shot with them at this price, because I'm not even convinced the Coyotes won't be winning the game by the time the 3rd period starts.

NHL Over-Under Total Best Bet

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

St. Louis/Vancouver Over 5.5

I'm interested to see who the Blues end up putting in net tonight because Jake Allen did get them their first bubble win in OT last night, but it's also a back-to-back spot and most NHL teams hate playing the same guy in net on consecutive days.

Either way, I can only go 'over' the total here as I've talked about the goal tallies we've seen for teams in these back-to-back spots already in this bubble format, and no matter who the Blues put in net, I believe this game does see 6+ goals scored like the first two did. If it's Allen, well, 'under' bettors got a little lucky yesterday in having a 2-2 game in the 2nd period go to OT that way, and if it's Binnington, all you have to look at is his suspect play from the first two games of this series.

NHL Prop Best Bet

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

Jake Virtanen to score Yes (+410)

No strong convictions on the side in this Blues/Canucks game tonight, but if the history in these bubble playoffs is any indication, you might want to side with the Canucks. NHL teams who lost the first game of the back-to-back in these playoffs are 8-2 SU in the return match the next day, including a perfect 4-0 SU in this round.

But if Vancouver is going to continue that run, they'll need a guy like Virtanen to step up his play. He's had a total of two shots on goal and no points so far in this series, and this Canucks team really needs to start getting some secondary scoring help if they want to advance.

Virtanen did pot 18 tallies during the regular year and he could be just the guy who gets the Canucks over the hump in this series if he can find the score sheet. Two shots through three games can't sit well with Virtanen or his coaching staff, so I expect him to be as aggressive as he can be.

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