Top NHL Betting Picks For Wednesday, May 4th (2022)

It’s time for Game 2 across the NHL playoffs, and here’s to hoping we see a few changes from the Game 1 matchups between these eight teams.

On Monday, three of the four game were for all intents and purposes – non-competitive. Carolina sunk Boston 5-1 after a scoreless opening frame, Toronto stunned the two-time defending champion Lightning 5-0, and St. Louis silenced the Minnesota crowd with a resounding 4-0 victory to steal a game away from home. The only close game of the bunch was a 4-3 victory by Los Angeles over the higher-seeded Oilers, and for my money is was the best game of the night.

The other change? The whistles. Clearly, the league put an emphasis on penalties to be called similarly in the postseason as they are in the regular year, but in my opinion the officials took it a step too far. The eight teams playing tonight combined for 39 powerplays and a penalty shot on Monday. Put the whistles away and let the boys play.

Deep breath – here are my two top plays for Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Lightning ML (+110; DraftKings)
I can already sense everyone moving on to the next bet because of how poorly Tampa Bay played in Game 1. And sure, I’ve been at the forefront of the “Tampa Bay has played more games than their legs can sustain over the last three seasons” bridgade. But they’re still the two-time defending champions. They have the best coach and goaltender in the sport, and they’ve battled through adversity before. Being down 1-0 before even playing a home playoff game isn’t something they’ll shy away from.

And also, let’s not forget how the Maple Leafs have performed in the playoffs of late. They were up 3-1 on Montreal last year and collapsed, so this team has a history of resting on their laurels and getting a bit too confident a bit too soon. Good luck doing that against the Lightning.

I also love Jon Cooper’s ability to adjust. Over the last two playoff years, he’s answered losses effectively because he’s got a great feel for his team. Towards the end of Game 1, we saw Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov playing together, and I think that’ll be the biggest adjustment Cooper makes heading into Game 2.

Speaking of answering losses, the Lightning haven’t lost back-to-back playoff games since they were swept out of the first round by the Blue Jackets… in 2019! That’s right, Tampa Bay just won back-to-back Stanley Cups without losing back-to-back games or falling behind by more than a game in any series. Plus, this incredible stat:

They’ll be ready to play tonight, teams this good with the pedigree of the Lightning don’t take getting beaten 5-0 lightly. Play Tampa down to even money.

Minnesota Wild ML (-130; FanDuel)
Two bets, two bounce back spots. This time, we’re betting on the home team after they were thoroughly dominated in their barn in Game 1 by the division-rival Blues.

Like with Tampa Bay, we’re betting on pedigree here. Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the best goaltenders of this generation, he’s a three-time Cup champion, and he’s 90-71 in his playoff career. He could have saved 49 of 50 shots in Game 1, and Minnesota still would have lost the game because they didn’t net a single goal. But don’t tell that to Fleury. He’ll take ownership of that first loss, he’ll keep the locker room loose and confident, and I’m expecting a vintage performance from the former Vezina winner.

Minnesota is also a resilient bunch. They only had two losing streaks of more than two games all year, and excluding those skids, they only followed a loss with a second loss six times. The Wild were also one of the best home teams in the league this year, posting a 31-8-2 record – tied with the Maple Leafs for the third-most wins on home ice in the entire NHL.

And finally, do you believe in due? St. Louis is 4-0 against Minnesota this year. They’ve had the Wild’s number, but Cam Talbot started the first three matchups between these two teams. Fleury only started the most recent battle, on Monday night, and I think the Blues are getting a bit too much credit for a string of wins where the game’s most important player wasn’t even involved. It’s essentially do-or-die for the Wild, but -130 is my limit.

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Author: Micheal May