NHL picks, best bets: Latest odds for Maple Leafs vs Lightning, Oilers vs Kings

Thursday’s Stanley Cup Playoffs games bring us four elimination games. Auston Matthews has the Maple Leafs on the verge of winning their first playoff series since 2004. It’ll only take a win against a Tampa Bay team on Thursday that is the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions.

Connor McDavid’s Oilers will need to respond after dropping Game 5 at home on Tuesday night. Not many experts (ours included) gave the Kings much of a chance in this series and here the Oilers are again struggling in the postseason.

The home team has won every game in the Hurricanes – Bruins series and the Wild – Blues series just seems destined to go seven games.

Thursdays Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule:

  • Game 6: Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins – 7 pm ET – TNT, SN360
  • Game 6: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning – 7:30 pm ET – TBS, CBC, SN
  • Game 6: Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues – 9:30 pm ET – TNT, SN360
  • Game 6: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings – 10 pm ET – TBS, CBC, SN

Every day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Athletic’s writers will make their picks, straight up. We put our picks, the TV schedule and all series coverage, plus the latest odds, all in one place for fans to easily digest and follow. Our in-depth NHL coverage is linked below the picks. For live NHL odds from BetMGM, click here.

Hurricanes at Bruins

Team Moneyline Total

+110

O 6 (+100)

-135

U 6 (-120)

Game 5: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1 | Carolina leads 3-2

Recap by Shayna Goldman

Who was the guy? Sebastian Aho had a strong game, netting two helpers at five-on-five and tilting the ice in his favor favor. Carolina generated about 61.5 percent of the shot attempts and earned an 82.3 percent expected goals rate with him on the ice. Aho’s efforts helped limit the Bruins’ second line from creating quality offense the leading center was often matched up against, contributing to the pursuing efforts on the advantage. Credit to his linemates Seth Jarvis and Andrei Svechnikov in this game as well for their high level of play.

What was the key? The Hurricanes’ power play was really a difference-maker after deflating them earlier in the series – whether it was a matter of not generating quality looks or sustained offensive zone time, or not converting on their chances. In Game 5, Carolina attempted 19 shots, 10 of which were ‘scoring chances.’ Their unblocked shots added up to an expected value of 1.7 altogether. The Hurricanes had the results to show for it – two power-play tallies, plus another just after the expired advantage.

Key stat: The Hurricanes cut down their penalties by one-third, from nine (!) In Game 4. Even better yet, Carolina held the Bruins to just eight shot attempts between those advantages, while creating three of their own.

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


Maple Leafs at Lightning

Team Moneyline Total

+110

O 6.5 (-120)

-135

U 6.5 (+100)

Game 5: Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 3 | Toronto leads 3-2

Recap by Mark Lazerus

Who was the guy? Oh, take your pick. William Nylander had a goal and two assists, bringing the Leafs back from the dead after a putrid first period. Auston Matthews scored the game-winner and was a human-wrecking ball all game. Jack Campbell shook off an early 2-0 hole to make game-saving stop after game-saving stop. Tampa Bay’s Ryan McDonagh and Andrei Vasilevskiy deserve some love, too. What matters is we finally got a game that lived up to the hype and promise of Leafs-Bolts – an exhilarating back-and-forth affair that was so fast and so tense that it overcame the 2022 Stanley Cup playoff standard of over-officiating. This was the good stuff.

What was the key? Who knows what will happen in Games 6 and (maybe) 7 – we all know Toronto’s track record with a series lead isn’t exactly great – but this was a character-revealing victory for the Leafs. It looked like they were going to get run out of their own rink in the pivotal Game 5, but Campbell almost singlehandedly kept the game within reach after Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman scored 52 seconds apart early in the first period, killing off a 5- on-3 along the way, and the Leafs pulled themselves off the mat and fought all the way back. If the Leafs go on to win their first playoff series since 2004, and who knows what beyond that, this is the game they’ll sing songs about.

Key stat: Vasilevskiy, No. 88, has stopped exactly 88 percent of the shots he’s faced in this series. His .924 career postseason save percentage entering this series was fourth-best all-time. It’s not as if he’s been that bad. The Leafs are just that lethal.

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


Wild at Blues

Team Moneyline Total

-105

O 6 (-120)

-115

U 6 (+100)

Game 5: Blues 5, Wild 2 | St. Louis leads 3-2

Recap by Max Bultman

Who was the guy? Early in the game, a friend of mine (who’s not a big hockey fan) texted me to ask if I was watching Justin Verlander’s no-hit bid. I told him I was on Wild-Blues, and he replied by trying to see if he could name a player on either team. He did: Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko must have appreciated the vote of confidence, because he came out of the locker room to start the third period and grabbed control for the Blues, scoring two goals in the first three minutes of the frame. He completed the hat trick with an empty netter in the final two minutes, too. So, yeah, he counts!

What was the key? It’s hard to overstate how heavily the shot quality numbers were tilted towards the Wild after two periods. Minnesota was getting above 64% of the 5-on-5 expected goals share (score and venue adjusted) in each of the first two periods, according to Natural Stat Trick, and had scored twice on the power play. But the Blues survived it, went into the second intermission tied, and then stormed out for a third period in which they generated 77 percent of the expected goals and two quick actual goals by Tarasenko. From there, their winning pedigree took over and they closed it out.

Wild worry meter: How 🥴 🥴…… With how banged up the Blues’ blue line has been, it’s gotten to the point where the Wild feel like they should be favored in each game. But they’re now just one loss away from a long summer. The next game is in St. Louis.

Blues worry meter: 😬 😬…… There’s no such thing as comfortable this late in a series. But that was a massive road win.

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


Oilers at Kings

Team Moneyline Total

-150

O 6.5 (-105)

+125

U 6.5 (-115)

Game 5: Kings 5, Oilers 4 (OT) | Los Angeles leads 3-2

Recap by Sean Gentille

Who was the guy? It’s always nice when the fellas make this easy on us. Adrian Kempe had the overtime winner, another goal, an assist and led the Kings in Game Score. Any other choice would be contrarianism for its own sake. This provides a nice excuse to talk about how great Kempe has been this season; he scored 35 goals in the regular season, 19 more than his previous high, and showed a tendency to jump off the screen whenever I caught Kings games. He’s also still just 25. That makes him one of several reasons for optimism in LA, in the short and long term

What was the key? Whatever the Kings did in the dressing room after regulation – because it worked. They were an underdog, on the road, that had just blown a two-goal lead in the last 7:27 of the game. Bouncing back from that takes some fortitude.

Key stat: Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid played 16:31 and 15:15 at 5-on-5, respectively. Given the Oilers’ performance when neither of them was on the ice – they factored into all four goals and scored three between them – it needed to be more. Monitoring their minutes in the regular season is one thing. But the regular season is over, no matter how brutal the supporting cast may be.

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


NHL playoff predictions 2022: 1st-round winners, most overrated, dark horse, Stanley Cup champion and more

More Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage: News | Podcasts | Odds

(Photo of Auston Matthews: Gerry Angus / Getty Images)

.

Leave a Comment

BIELSKO1