We try to keep our international and professional-sports odds separate here at WagerBop, but the upcoming Thursday of morning, noon, and night-time pond shinny presents a chance for NHL bettors to live-out an incredible day of cheering and winning with more than a single tournament.
Of course, it also provides the “opportunity” for puck-following gamblers to be wrung out, losing, and seeking overly risky bets on Thursday night’s final faceoff in Calgary to try to make-up for the day’s defeats.
Not that the Edmonton Oilers make a bad wager these days. But the best antidote for the dreaded “Outcome #2” is accurate and responsible picks that are congruent with the trends of NHL playoff hockey in 2022.
Fortunately for speculators, Las Vegas appears to be ignoring said trends on a number of prominent weekday betting markets in ice hockey…and not just on the National Hockey League games occurring in prime-time.
Thursday’s IIHF Worlds Quarter Final Odds, Lines, and Picks
Sweden vs Canada
Sweden’s (-112) line to defeat Canada is a rare case of odds-makers favoring a Euro-heavy team over an all-NHL squad from North America at the Worlds. Sweden has had a solid tournament so far, but the team’s encouraging wins over Finland and Czechia in Group Stage can be attributed to circumstances. The athletically superior Habs won 3 straight medal-round contests to claim gold with an even more blue-collar lineup last year.
WagerBop’s Pick: Canada (-108)
Czech Republic vs Germany
Czechia (-245) matches Switzerland in icing 6 or 7 well-chosen NHLers around a smooth-skating, sharp-defending batch of veteran wide-rink professionals. Germany, however, can pull off crazy upsets in the medal round with or without Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers on board. Remember that none of Germany’s NHL skaters were present when Trager Der Alder nearly stunned the Olympic Athletes of Russia in the gold-medal game in Pyeong Chang in 2018. Germany’s (+0.5) (+118) spread market seems promising. Germany is an excellent pick to reach the end of regulation tied with Czechia in Thursday’s quarterfinal, but not a great pick to prevail in OT or a shoot-out. FanDuel Sportsbook’s help desk was able to confirm that “(+0.5)” goals ATS pays off as a winner if Germany ties Czechia in 60:00 of regulation. That nugget of rules information on “non-Puck Line” games could prove “helpful” indeed when there are plus-odds on such a stout IIHF underdog in multiple markets.
WagerBop’s Pick: Germany ATS (+0.5) (+118)
Finland vs Slovakia
Finland is a smooth-skating operation that lacks the pure speed and play-making (without Sebastian Aho, anyway) to blow out another Euro-based side like Slovakia. That’s why the Slovaks’ (+130) payoff odds on a rare IIHF “Puck Line” of (+1.5) goals are so attractive as to warrant a wager in full cognizance of Finland’s gold-medal stripes.
WagerBop’s Pick: Slovakia (+410) or Slovakia ATS (+1.5) (+130)
United States vs Switzerland
Casuals may be surprised that Switzerland (-154) should be favored over a United States team of Swayman and 90% NHL skaters across 4 lines and 3 pairings. But with Russia out of the picture and Canada’s goaltending not up to snuff, the Swiss have emerged alongside Finland and Czechia as favorites to prevail with gold in 2022.
Team United States can boast of far-better netminding than when the Yanks started this year’s event with Strauss Mann of the Swedish Hockey League manning the pipes. However, the USA has struggled to score goals against similar opponents this year, and outcomes like “USA 3, Great Britain 0” feel a lot like defeats as well-motivated Worlds skaters out-class another “B” team representing the Stars & Stripes.
The smaller size of National League (not National Hockey League) defensemen from Switzerland would give the Americans a chance to forecheck and grind-out a 4-3 win under some circumstances, but that won’t happen with MVP-worthy Dean Kukan leading the Swiss blue line.
WagerBop’s Pick: Switzerland (-0.5) (+106)
NHL Playoff Odds: Conference Semifinal Betting Lines and Picks
Thurs. May 26: New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes (Game 5, Series Tied 2-2)
Buoyed by Finnish skaters Teuvo Teräväinen and Sebastian Aho, the New York Rangers further pierced the Carolina Hurricanes’ formidable blue line for a 4-1 win on Tuesday night to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at 2 victories each. Carolina’s goaltender Antti Raanta may be quite familiar with some Big Apple snipers who hail from from his home country, but that didn’t stop the Rangers from solving Raanta 4 times on less than 30 shots-on-goal.
Why then, is Carolina a strong (-152) favorite to win Game 5 on Thursday? Given how stingy the ‘Canes goaltending has been at home, and also how Carolina played in the clutch against visiting Boston, the Hurricanes’ home-ice advantage in Game 5 is obviously viewed as the game’s top betting angle.
WagerBop disagrees, holding the “unpopular” opinion that 40+ skaters and 2+ goalies will have a bigger impact on Thursday’s outcome. While the crowd noise might be a detriment to the Rangers’ ability to communicate around the net, New York’s individual skill sets allow the Rangers to score without any tic-tac-toe classics on the reel.
WagerBop’s Pick: Rangers (+126)
Thurs. May 26: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames (Game 5, Oilers lead 3-1)
WagerBop’s prediction that Edmonton would prove a true favorite over Calgary has appeared to bear-out in the Battle of Alberta so far. But the odds-makers at FanDuel Sportsbook can be very stubborn people, and have unexpectedly cast the searing-hot Oilers as (+126) underdogs in Game 5. It doesn’t seem that Evander Kane’s best postseason ever, nor the litany of swift play-makers around the power forward, can hold a candle to the staid concerns about defense and goaltending from Las Vegas odds-makers.
Mike Smith allowed one of the strangest goals in Stanley Cup playoff history in Tuesday’s victory, letting Rasmus Andersson of the Calgary Flames score on a short-handed “clearing the zone” slap shot to tie the contest 3-3 before the Oiler attack could roar again. Smith didn’t give up the weird goal because he’s 40 years old, though. The GK is a clever passing weapon on Edmonton’s power play, and was distracted looking for new skaters coming off the bench. What’s even more important is that Smith has been exactly the kind of goaltender that a wide-open team can flourish with, similar to Grant Fuhr’s knack of closing the door after giving-up dodgy goals for the Oilers and Blues in the 1st periods of playoff games. The ability to make spectacular stops becomes more crucial than save-percentages when an offense is flying high, since Calgary knows it can’t win the series with low-angle chances.
The Oilers are practically icing the top-5 offensive players of the Battle of Alberta at this point, and Calgary coach Darryl Sutter’s body language betrays an ultimate helplessness to stop them. There’s no reason to think the Flames can’t knuckle down and win in front of home-town faithful for the 56th time this season. But that does not make the Flames a strong minus-odds betting favorite against a superior ice hockey team, no matter where they are.
WagerBop’s Pick: Oilers (+126)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.