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Top NHL Betting Odds & Picks for Tuesday, May 17 (2022)

by May 17, 2022

Welcome to round two of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It took an incredible five Game 7s to get here, but we made it, and we’re down to the NHL’s version of the Elite Eight.

There weren’t many surprises in the first round; all four first-place teams advanced, but it was only easy for the Colorado Avalanche, who swept Nashville out of the opening round. Only two lower-seeded teams have advanced to round two – the Blues and the Rangers – both of whom were actually a better team than the higher-seeded club they were pitted against.

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The second round kicks off tonight with the Battle of Florida followed by a Central Division clash, and as I mentioned prior to round one, betting Game 1 of a series isn’t something I like to do. So here are the best bets for each of the two series that’ll get going on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay Lightning Series Winner (+130; DraftKings)

The Florida Panthers were the Presidents’ Trophy winners with 122 points in the regular season. But that was the regular season. This is playoff time, and there is no team with more experience this time of year than the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning. There’s simply too much value on Tampa at +130, even if they don’t have a home-ice advantage.

Clearly, the home-ice advantage doesn’t mean much to the Bolts. They just took two games from one of the most hostile playoff environments in the sport, including a win in Game 7, as they ousted Toronto after falling behind 3-2 in the series. Tampa Bay is an incredible 18-0 following a loss in the playoffs over the last three years, they’ve never fallen behind by more than a game in any series in that span, and they’ve got a battle-tested goaltender who happens to be the best (or one of the two best, I hear you Rangers fans) in the sport.

Andrei Vasilevskiy put together his best performance of the playoff when the Lightning needed it most, as usual, in Game 7 against Toronto. In total, he saved 1.5 goals above expectation which is only the eighth-best among playoff netminders but keep in mind his opponent. Vasilevskiy was facing the third-highest scoring team in the league and started four games on the road.

In the opposite crease is Sergei Bobrovsky, who is enjoying a renaissance season in his own right, but there are some underlying telling numbers from the first round. Bobrovsky saved 3.6 goals above expected against the Capitals in round one, fourth-best among playoff netminders, but he also faced the second-highest percentage of unblocked shot attempts. That metric doesn’t only factor in shot blocks by his own team; it factors in shots blocked by either team. If the Panthers are unwilling to get in front of pucks, Tampa Bay will pick them apart, especially on the man-advantage. And furthermore, the Lightning is going to get their own bodies in front of the net a lot more frequently than Washington did, seeing as they missed their net-front presence, Tom Wilson, for nearly the entire series.

Speaking of the man-advantage, Florida still has yet to convert on the power play this postseason – 0-for-18. They also drew the third-fewest penalties in the opening round, ahead of only the Predators and Avalanche, who only played four games. Tampa Bay converted 21% of their power plays against Toronto and drew the second-most penalties of any of the 16 playoff teams. Special teams advantage: Lightning.

There isn’t much wiggle room here, especially if Brayden Point misses multiple games; plus, Florida is still the top team in the league until someone dethrones them, but you can play Tampa Bay down to +125 on the series line.

Cale Makar: Top Series Goal Scorer (0.25 units, +2000; DraftKings)

I’m sorry, but in what world should 13 players have shorter odds than Cale Makar to have the most goals in a playoff series? Makar is a defenseman, sure, but in today’s NHL, defensemen are just as skilled and prolific as forwards – especially Makar. And I think his position is why we’re getting such favorable odds.

This is just a quarter-unit bet, so it’s somewhat of a dart throw, but there is way too much value on Makar to not put a little bit of spare change on. Makar tied for the second-most goals in the opening round with three and had the most points of any player in the series. Why? Because he quarterbacks the power play and plays nearly the full two minutes, he eats up 25-plus minutes of ice time, and he spends a lot of time with other top scorers like Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. He’s on the ice a ton and usually in goal-scoring situations.

Makar is also matchup-proof. Teams don’t deploy their shutdown lines to stop defensive pairings, and they deploy their shutdown lines to stop other top forward lines. With so much of the Blues’ focus on the MacKinnon-Rantanen-Landeskog line, Makar should not only be able to get shots off from the point, but he’ll also have his fair share of chances against some of St. Louis’ lesser skilled defensive forward groups.

Again, this is by no means a lock, and it’s a bet purely on the insane value Cale Makar provides. He shouldn’t be behind players like Brayden Schenn, Valeri Nichushkin, Brandon Saad, and Andre Burakovsky in terms of top scorer odds. Don’t place anywhere near a full unit on this, but feel free to play the game’s best defenseman down to +1500.

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategy — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.

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