Friday’s NHL schedule is littered with elimination games with the Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild all facing elimination and playing with their backs against the wall. Will they live to play another day? Let’s take a look at the Friday NHL betting card as I will attempt to find out the answer.
New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers – Game 4 (NY Islanders lead series 2-1)
This is going to be a common theme in this article with these four elimination games. I would look to bet either a 3rd period over 1.5 goals which is available at many sportsbooks before the game starts. If you do not have access to a book that provides 3rd Period totals before the game, look to bet an in-game live over during the 2nd intermission. This betting strategy in elimination games makes a lot of sense to this bettor especially if the Florida Panthers are trailing going into the final period. Teams that face elimination have to open up and be more aggressive offensively looking to shoot pucks from everywhere and generate as many scoring chances as possible. We have seen both previous elimination games here in the play-in series qualifying round go Over 1.5 goals scored in the 3rd period. I expect to see more of the same here between the Islanders and Panthers. I’m not as keen on taking the full game over at 5 as I believe the 3rd period over is the better bet. If the Panthers are trailing late in the game with their season on the line, we could see plenty of time with the empty net and a much better chance for a late goal scoring explosion. Note that BlitzBet offers highest scoring period props which not all sportsbooks do. I would consider betting the 3rd period as the highest scoring period in this game at +230 and with all the elimination games that I will be writing about in this article for Friday.
NY Islanders/Florida Over 1.5 -150 (3rd Period)
Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes – Game 4 (Arizona leads series 2-1)
I picked Arizona to win this series before it started and I’m standing pat. When push comes to shove, there is something lacking with the Nashville Predators and it goes beyond the fact they have not gotten strong seasons from their best players and the personnel they count on the most to win big games. There is a noticeable lack of perseverance with this squad. When things start to go south, their response level is inadequate at best. They got to a great start in Game 1 of this series yet didn’t cash in with a goal. Minutes later, the Coyotes scored the first goal of the game on a very fluky deflection goal and yet it seemed to take all the air out of the balloon for the Predators in that game and they never regained their footing in that game until it was too late. Arizona is showing the kind of solid defense they have when their blue line is full healthy and intact as it is now featuring Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski which is a quartet that has a lot of experience under their belt. Darcy Kuemper was off his game in Game 2 but responded by playing much better as he’s done all season following a subpar game in the 4-1 victory for Arizona in Game 3. This series has been somewhat surprising in the fact that it’s been higher scoring than expected with the over cashed at a 2-0-1 clip (2 overs and 1 push) in the first three games of this series. The total has been set at 5.5 for Game 4 which is a half goal higher than the most recent game. I would lean to the over for perhaps a small bet and would certainly look toward the aforementioned over 1.5 goals in the 3rd period strategy with this being another elimination game. I will back Arizona once again just as I did in Game 3.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks – Game 4 (Chicago leads series 2-1)
Here is an excerpt from what I wrote about this series and Game 1 of it on Saturday for Line Movement: “I like goals early and often in this series. Both teams are a bit more sturdy at the offensive end than on defense, especially Chicago.“
I mentioned that this series could develop into the highest-scoring and most offensively explosive series of all the play-in qualifying series and it has turned out to be exactly that. If you have been betting the over in every game in this series, you are a perfect 3-0 heading into Game 4 with each game featuring at least seven total goals scored. We have seen many examples in this series of some really porous defensive zone breakdowns in coverage from both teams. Failing to cover an opposing forward going to the net and turning the puck over with regularity has been a common characteristic of both teams defensively in this series and it has given both teams numerous high danger scoring chances throughout this series. Game 3 was the lowest-scoring game of the series with seven goals in a 4-3 win for Chicago and yet the game still went over the total and it could have been much higher scoring as Chicago missed the mark on several power play opportunities and both teams hit the goalpost and crossbar multiple times combined in the game.
The total hasn’t really shifted at all from where it was lined in Game 3 as it is currently 6.5 across the board. I see no reason to deviate from that pattern and no need to try and get too cute thinking we are ‘due’ for a lower scoring game in this series. I haven’t seen it yet and with this total still below the key number of 7, I will be betting my fourth straight Blackhawks/Oilers game in this series over the total. Keep in mind this is an elimination game with the Edmonton Oilers facing a must-win scenario so I would expect to throw as many pucks toward the net as possible and throw everything they can at Chicago’s shaky defense and their veteran goaltender Corey Crawford who has actually made a couple of mistakes in the crease in this series for the Blackhawks. The 3rd period over 1.5 goals bet is worth looking at as well just as I have said about the other elimination games taking place on Friday. The 1st period over 1.5 goals in this series is also a perfect 3-0. In fact, the 1st period over and full game over in this series in the first three games would be a perfect 6-0 combined. I expect to see more of the same and for the red light to be lit early and often once again in Game 4 between Edmonton and Chicago. I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Edmonton earlier. They bounced back to win Game 2 after dropping Game 1 and I expect the same response here.
Edmonton/Chicago Over 1.5 -150 (1st Period)
Edmonton/Chicago Over 6.5 -110
Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild (Vancouver leads series 2-1)
The Vancouver Canucks shut out the Minnesota Wild 3-0 in Game 3 to take the lead in this series and push the Wild to the brink of elimination. Minnesota has a listless power play to blame. They had their opportunities with the man advantage in Game 3 but the power play was a colossal failure for Minnesota going a putrid 0-for-7 in the loss. That is clearly going to be an area of focus and emphasis for the Wild as they look to stave off elimination in Game 4 of this series on Friday night. Vancouver’s top players have stepped up for them in two straight games after being shut out in Game 1. Brock Boeser has scored in consecutive games for Vancouver while J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson have also elevated their level of performance in the back-to-back victories for the Canucks. I liked Vancouver to win this series and my playoff betting strategy is to stick with my original handicap and opinion of the overall series unless I see enough watching these games to make me change my mind. I also think we are starting to see Jacob Markstrom play like the superior goalie that he is in this series for Vancouver over his counterpart Alex Stalock who was the backup netminder to Devan Dubnyk most of the season for Minnesota but was in a surprise move by head coach Dean Evason given the starting assignment for the first three games of this series. I haven’t seen that in this series. I think the Canucks have a solid chance to finish off the Wild in Game 4. I like the over in this game as well. This has been a zig-zag series from a total perspective with Game 1 going under the total, Game 2 flying over the total, and Game 3 once again staying under. I expect this game to revert back to a higher-scoring affair. Be sure to keep the 3rd period over 1.5 goals betting strategy for elimination games in mind as well with the potential for a late explosion of goals and an extended amount of time with the net empty toward the latter stages of the third period.
Vancouver/Minnesota Over 5.5 +118