Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NHL Playoff Picks and Predictions for Wednesday August 26

Stanley Cup Playoffs NHL Best Bets

Games set for August 22-23, 2020 To be played in Toronto and Edmonton

NHL Favorite Best Bet

  • Matchup: Boston vs. Tampa Bay
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 8:00 p.m. ET

Boston Bruins ML -114

Even though it took OT to get there, the Tampa Bay Lightning played a strong Game 2 from start to finish and were able to even up this series and put the zig-zag theory in this matchup at 1-0 SU to start. I said before Game 2 that this could end up being the ideal series to see great results with that zig-zag approach, so coming right back with the Bruins 24 hours later fits the script.

Boston is still deciding on whether to send Halak back in the net for this back-to-back or give 23-year-old Daniel Vladar his first NHL action, and while that is definitely important information to have, I'm not sure it changes much of the line. If anything, we could get more Tampa money if it is Vladar as fading a goalie making his NHL debut will make sense for some, but after the Rask departure, the Bruins have looked like a different team, all joined together for that common goal. They'll have confidence in Vladar and will want to do everything to get him that first NHL win, so give me the Bruins tonight.

NHL Underdog Best Bet

  • Matchup: Dallas vs. Colorado
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 10:30 p.m. ET

Dallas ML +123

Well, I hate to sound like a broken record here, but if you read my thoughts on this series for Game 1, and then Game 2, this play was always going to be a given tonight for Game 3.

I mentioned that Colorado being forced to lean on Francouz the rest of the way after Grubauer went down led me to believe the Stars run away with this series, and there is still no change in that opinion. The Star's price has gotten about 10 cents worse after each victory - +145 for Game 1, +135 for Game 2, +123 for Game 3, and quite honestly, I may even wait until closer to puck drop to get another unit or two down on the Stars as the narrative of this being a “must win” game for Colorado ramps up through the day as they don't want to go down 3-0.

I already assume that the bulk of ALL that pre-series Colorado love will subscribe to the Avs coming back tonight without too much convincing, so it would not shock me to see this line get even better for the Stars as the day goes on.

Colorado's still scored just 2 or fewer goals against the Stars in five of their seven meetings this year, compared to Dallas averaging 3.14 goals per game in those seven contests. If we were talking about Colorado being 6-1 SU against Dallas this year the entire narrative in this marketplace would be flipped in that it's “the Stars simply can't beat Colorado, the Avs are the much better team”.

And yet it's Dallas 6-1 SU against Colorado this year and there are still hints of “it's flukey, Colorado lost their goalie, and any other host of excuses Colorado wants to give”. While there is always at least a little bit of truth to those, Dallas is still 6-1 SU against Colorado this year. What more does it take to come to the conclusion that at least in this head-to-head matchup, Dallas is the far better team?

NHL Over-Under Total Best Bet

  • Matchup: New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 3:00 p.m. ET

New York/Philadelphia Over 5

Anytime I'm going to see a plus-money price on a flat '5' in these playoffs I'm always going to be interested in the 'over' no matter what the team, series, or bubble history suggests. Bubble hockey has been nothing but 'unders' or pushes for the Flyers (1-8-1 O/U) and it's been refreshing at times to see a teams like Philly and the Islanders play some strong defense, compared to the NBA playoffs where it's just a simple shooting gallery for all those teams, as any and all notion of executing defensive plays were left in their respective cities before reaching their Orlando bubble.

But this Islanders/Flyers Game 2 does set up as a nice situational spot in my view for both teams to open things up and play those 4-3 and 5-3 type games we saw from these two in all three regular season matchups.

For one, the Islanders have to have some sense they could have Philly's number being 4-0 SU against them this year, and knowing they can put together as strong of a defensive performance as they did in Game 1 is always something nice to fall back on when needed.

But they know that Varlamov's shutout streak won't last forever – another streak for streak chasers to ride I'm sure – and if the Islanders are going to make it through this round, there is going to have to be at least one game that they win that is of the 4-3 variety.

At the same time, Philly showed in that Montreal series that they love to play pack-line defense, but they may not be the best team at it in this series. They've got no choice but to try and open things up to at least try to spark most of their top scorers who have been completely absent from the score sheet during their entire stay in the bubble. Philly couldn't beat this team in those high-scoring regular season affairs but at least they had a shot as blown leads got them a couple of times.

They did not have much of a shot in Game 1 playing that generic playoff, defense first and always strategy so something's got to change. Maybe it's putting the line combinations through the blender, maybe it's being so aggressive early that they get the first goal and gain some confidence that way. Or maybe it's their push to put pucks in the net so aggressively that they end up getting burned on the back end and are forced to chase the game again. Either way, Philly needs to show some offense in Game 2 otherwise the tent is going to slowly start getting folded up for them in this series.

With the 'over' stock being a nice buy low spot tonight, both in price, and scenario (off a shutout game, perspectives of both teams being great defensively), I'll go the contrarian route here.

NHL Prop Best Bet

  • Matchup: New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 3:00 p.m. ET

Over 1.5 goals in the 1st period (+112)

Might as well try this play again for Game 2 as Game 1 brought a goal six minutes in and having 13 minutes left with a few power plays mixed in there as well was all I could have really asked for a chance at this prop hitting in Game 1.

It didn't end up getting there, but at plus-money again and me expecting this game to be higher scoring in general, I'll go back to the idea that the regular season version of Islanders/Flyers games comes back to the screen. Those games saw 5, 2, and 3 goals in the respective 1st periods as I mentioned prior to Game 1, and I think we get at least two tallies this afternoon for Game 3.

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