Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NHL Playoff Picks and Predictions - Midweek Action


To be played in Toronto and Edmonton

  • Matchup: Dallas vs Colorado
  • Date: Wednesday, Sept. 2
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Matchup: Philadelphia vs New York Islanders
  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 3
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 7:00 p.m. ET
  • Matchup: Vegas vs Vancouver
  • Date: Thursday, Sept. 3
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 9:45 p.m. ET

NHL Money-Line Best Bets

  • Dallas Stars +100
  • New York Islanders -112
  • Vegas Golden Knights -240

Slightly altering the usual format for this piece with just three games over the next 48 hours, but they've all got something in common with the “bubble playoffs” and I know that those bettors out there that prefer to ride streaks will like to hear this:

No NHL team through 17 total playoff series in this bubble has been able to stave off elimination more than once in a series.

In the qualifying round we had Carolina win with a sweep, and Montreal, Chicago, Arizona, Vancouver, and Calgary all win in four games after taking a 2-1 series lead in Game 3. Florida scratched out one win in Game 3 to avoid getting swept before getting eliminated in Game 4, and Toronto survived a Game 3 collapse to author quite the comeback themselves in Game 4 up against elimination, only to fall short in Game 5, their second time with elimination as the threat.

Last round it was even more pronounced with Montreal winning Game 5 before losing out to Philly in Game 6, Washington winning Game 4 before getting bounced in Game 5, with the Blackhawks doing the exact same thing. The rest of the teams – Arizona, Carolina, Columbus, St Louis, and Calgary – all whiffed on their first try with their season on the line too. That's not the case with any of the three trailing teams on Wednesday and Thursday as each won Game 5 to stay alive, but the concept remains the same and it likely has quite a bit to do with them simply being in the bubble.

Guys that are on these trailing teams are conditioned to not give up until it's over and that plays into some of the great performances we saw from Colorado, Philadelphia, and Vancouver in their respective Game 5's. But the reality and strain of them being in the bubble for so long, and the smell of a return trip home to family and friends getting stronger, the harder it is to maintain that mental and physical sharpness needed to avoid having your season end.

At the same time, guys on the leading side of things have got to be thinking things like, “if we were going to blow a 3-1 series lead to begin with, why not “tank” earlier in the series so we could have gotten home sooner. Turn this thing up, end this thing, and go from there.” The lure of a championship is something more prominent for these teams that know they should be able to shut down a 3-1 series lead.

Furthermore, if you look each of the games individually, expecting these series to finish does make a lot of sense.

Vegas ML -240

In Vancouver's case, they completely stole Game 5 on the back of a scorching hot goalie and probably can't expect that result to remain the same two more times. Vegas has controlled the majority of play from the opening puck drop in this series, and you would expect them to close out this series eventually. Why not here in Game 6 where it's a reasonable assumption that Demko won't be standing on his head again.

Dallas ML +100

Dallas has things in front of them as well being up against a 2nd or 3rd string goalie depending on how the Avalanche decide to play it. One horrible stretch of 6+ minutes of hockey killed Dallas again in Game 5, this time in that blitz of a final 10 minutes of the 3rd period. They avoid that, and avoid what happened in the final 6 minutes of Game 4 and this series is already over.

Return to Khudobin and get him to keep the team steady early on, Why can't the Stars beat this Colorado team yet again.

New York Islanders ML -112

And then there are the Flyers, who without question played their most complete game of the series in Game 5, only to have that 50 minutes of hard work get washed away in just a few minutes. Philly needed OT to escape a blown lead for the 2nd time in this series, as they really look like a team that's just hanging on life support.

Even when they play their best, they are one bad bounce or shot away from already being done in this series (twice), and anywhere not near their best and the Islanders just go out and prove that they are the better team right now with statement wins.

So, you get an Islanders team that could be the one that's dominated games like they have in their wins, or the one that's turned it on in dominating fashion for brief stretches in their two losses, and still had overtime chances to where they may be owed a bounce or two.

The fact that Philly couldn't come close to closing out Game 5 the way they should have after those first 50 minutes was quite telling, as I'm not sure they've got, nor want, much more time in this bubble.

NHL Prop Best Bet

  • Matchup: Dallas vs. Colorado
  • Date: Wednesday, Sept. 2
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 8:00 p.m. ET

Dallas Reverse PL -1.5 (+240)

Game 5 was an easy film to burn for at least the first period for the Stars, and they know Colorado will be coming again early in Game 6. But long term, they've still got what should be perceived as a decent edge in goal with Khudobin vs either Colorado option, and probably a bigger one vs Hutchinson who Colorado may go with again simply because he won in Game 5.

The Stars also probably haven't forgotten about how crappy it felt to know their chance at ending the series last game was done before the 1st period was over, and if they ever got the chance to hang one on Colorado tonight they likely wouldn't hesitate. It was just last round – in a Game 6 no less – that Dallas hung seven unanswered goals in Calgary to close out that series with a 7-3 win, and that was with 'prevent' mode being employed for most of the 3rd period.

A Stars lead late always opens up the empty netter possibilities as well, and even with the 4th win in a series supposedly the “toughest” to get, every game but one in this series has been decided by multiple goals, and the one that wasn't only landed there because Colorado scored a goal with three seconds left to lose 5-4 rather than 5-3.

I've been all-in with the Stars in this entire series, and I'll take my chances blow open another series clinching game this round.

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