NHL Playoff Picks and Predictions for Wednesday August 19

Stanley Cup Playoffs NHL Best Bets

Game set for Wednesday, August 19, 2020
To be played in Toronto and Edmonton

NHL Favorite Best Bet

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

St Louis ML -143 

Even though it was a tough spot (for both teams) being the back-to-back game in the series, this young Vancouver Canucks team really got a rude awakening in Game 4 about what it will take to knock off the defending champs. The Blues imposed their will on Vancouver from start to finish in that game, and came away with a 3-1 win to even up the series at two games apiece. It's now a best-of-three to advance and you've got to give the team that has been there, done that, a decisive edge.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple spark of a lineup change to get a team going, and the Blues switching to G Jake Allen for Games 3 and 4 has dramatically shifted the series. Allen has been much better then last year's hero Jordan Binnington, and while we are a long way away from thinking about another Stanley Cup for St Louis, the goalie switch after two playoff games reminds me of what Washington did in 2018 when they went from the “young” guy in Phillip Grubauer to the “established vet” Braden Holtby. Washington rode Holtby all the way to the title that year, and at least for this series, I expect the Blues to have a similar result with Allen in net.
Make no mistake about it, this Vancouver team has a bright future ahead of them, but without much secondary scoring, I just don't see how the Canucks will find a way to advance in this series. And with that being the longer-term belief from where I sit, backing the Blues to take this pivotal Game 5 and grab a series lead for the first time is the way to go here. 

NHL Underdog Best Bet 

  • Matchup: Montreal vs Philadelphia
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 8:00 p.m. ET

Montreal ML +118 

You won't get too many persuasive words supporting this play given that Montreal hasn't even scored a goal in the past two games, but it's put up or shut up time for Montreal and it's not like Philly has had much success scoring either. To have a 3-1 series lead after scoring a grand total of 5 goals in the series is far from a ringing endorsement about how good this Flyers team is, as I do still believe they are highly overrated as a #1 seed (or Top 4 seed for that matter) and they've just benefited from the fact that their opponent has actually been much worse then they are.
I'm quite convinced that if Philly does stay the course and advances to the next round, you'll see an initial flurry of series wagers in the market come in against the Flyers opponent and rightfully so in my view. But before we get there, I'll give Montreal as underdogs who have definitely been counted out now – down 3-1 in the series and goal-less in games – one more kick at the can against a Flyers team that I believe is just marginally better than this 12th seed to begin with. 

NHL Over-Under Total Best Bet 

  • Matchup: Carolina vs Boston 
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 4:00 p.m. ET 

Carolina/Boston Under 5.5 -152

Having been burned by a handful of 'overs' in these Eastern Conference playoff games based in Toronto over the past week, it's been impossible not to notice just how bad the ice appears to be there. For large chunks of games it looks like guys are playing with a tennis ball out there instead of a puck, having it bounce around on edge and just be utterly predictable. I don't know how many guys I saw fall trying to use their edge to turn in Game 4 of the Flyers/Canadiens series yesterday but it had to be approaching double digits. I guess that's just what you get when you are trying to maintain an ice rink in the middle of summer with multiple professional games being played on it.
The numbers bear it out too, as all these bouncing pucks really limit quality scoring chances and is largely responsible for all the 'unders' we've seen at the Toronto location. Since the start of this playoff round, there have been 16 games played in Toronto by Eastern Conference teams and there have been a total of 72 goals scored in those contests. That works out to an average of 4.5 goals per game, as only four of those 16 games have finished with six or more total goals scored.
So why am I going with the Hurricanes/Bruins game 'under' the total of the three Eastern Conference games on the card today?
Well, for one, four of 16 games seeing 6+ goals scored suggests it's awfully rare for the same two foes to hit that mark in consecutive games. Only Washington and the Islanders have accomplished that feat so far, so after the 4-3 win Boston got in Game 4, going back to expecting a low-scoring game seems to make a lot of sense.
Furthermore, in potential pre-Game 7 close out games a year ago in Boston's run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins ended up going 2-0 SU and won both outings with shutout victories (3-0 and 4-0), including the latter of those coming against this same Hurricanes squad. The forced switch to Halak in net has really looked like it's become a rallying point for this Bruins squad, and he's looked every bit the part of a guy who can take Boston on another deep run.
Combine all of that with the crappy ice in Toronto as we watch bouncing pucks sail over the sticks of prime scoring chances, and this game should top out at 5 goals. 

NHL Prop Best Bet

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

St Louis Team Total Over 2.5 goals -157

The Blues have cashed this prop in three straight games in this series, despite some slow starts in a few of those games, and even in the lone game that they didn't they still managed to pot two goals behind Jacob Markstrom.
Already believing that it will be St Louis who comes out on top in this one, I see little reason to steer away from the Blues making it four straight games of scoring 3 or more goals tonight, and even a team total of 3 (+105) or 3.5 (+160) is worthy of a look for those bettors that may believe laying chalk over -150 is something they aren't comfortable with.