Betting NHL Must Win Teams

As the regular season winds down, betting NHL must win teams comes with an added element of caution. Updated trends plus a look at Thursday-Friday matchups for teams whose time is running thin. 

Canadiens netminder Jake Allen is 4-3 in seven starts since Carey Price suffered a concussion

Must-Win Favorites Flopping

Must win situations in sports have long been considered a trap for action junkies. They offer a false sense of intrigue baked into the matchup. Fool’s gold for those hoping to flip a quick buck. 

One side will argue that if a team must win this game, they will play with greater desperation. Those opposed will stand by the theory that if this determined group was even remotely capable of flipping a switch to perform at a higher level, then they wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with. 

Oddsmakers will undoubtedly raise the moneyline price on home favorites in a must win situation, and as we saw with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, the team was not worth the price of admission. Hosting the Jets, who had lost seven-straight, Calgary (22-29) had an opportunity to keep its razor thin playoff hopes alive. Not only did the Flames lose, they failed to light the lamp even once. 

– False Favorites: Home favorites with a losing record during the second half this season are 31-34 SU (.477), costing dime bettors -$22,380 on an average moneyline price of -158. 

Calgary wasn’t the only team watching its playoff hopes fizzle Wednesday. The St. Louis Blues (24-27) were home to the last place Ducks. Sitting in fourth, the same Blues team that recently sat down the Avalanche and Wild in four consecutive games (twice each), lost 3-2 against Anaheim as a -245 favorite. 

This was just the kind of opportunity that Arizona (22-32) needed. Fifth in the West and fading fast, the Coyotes proved once again they are not to be trusted as a moneyline favorite. Los Angeles, currently sixth in the division, slapped the Desert Dogs with a 4-2 win that made betting NHL must win teams a costly proposition.

My NHL picks are +52 games over .500 in 2021 and during the past 12 years, dime bettors have added +$210,490 to their bankroll with my premium selections. 


Timid Travelers 

Road teams like Dallas, Montreal and Nashville were in need of a win to help their playoff bubble positions last night, and all three came up short. Dallas (21-32), by far the most desperate of these three, drew the toughest assignment in Tampa Bay. For the fifth game in a row, the Stars came up on the short end and they have been outscored 20-7 in the process. 

– Road dogs with a losing record in the second half this season are 49-100 (.329) for a net loss of -$21,290. 

Dallas has Tampa once again Friday followed by back-to-back games vs. Chicago. The Stars trail Nashville by four with a game in hand. Dallas essentially needs to win out while the Predators lose their final two. In other words, a perfect storm with longshot odds. 

Speaking of Nashville (29-25), they lost as -180 favorites at Columbus on Wednesday. Another opportunity where winning would have literally locked up a playoff spot, and the heavy favorite fell short. 

The Canadiens (24-28) lost in Ottawa as the Senators improved to 7-2-1 in their past 10. Montreal was a -148 favorite, dropping chalk to 3-6 on the night. NHL favorites had posted a winning record eight straight nights from April 27 to May 4, so I’m not sounding the alarm that ALL favorites are bad news, but while the pressure to win increases, betting NHL must win teams has once again proven to be a costly venture. 

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NHL Must Win Teams On-deck 

The three remaining playoff spots will be decided over the coming days. Here are some NHL betting trends that apply to the matchups. Be sure to check my NHL consensus data everyday to see where the public money is going. 


Thursday, May 6, 2021, 7:00 PM ET 

Line: Maple Leafs -205 and 5.5 OV -125 

Brian Burke once said, “Sometimes you do the hard work and set the table, and somebody else eats the meal.” For the first place Leafs, the effort to gain a No. 1 seed was prevalent all season. Montreal is currently lined up as Toronto’s opening round adversary but the Habs are just 3-5 vs. Toronto this season. Against Edmonton, Montreal carries a 5-2 record in 2021 so the incentive for the Canadiens to win is huge. Whereas Toronto could be content to start managing its top line’s playing time and preparing for the postseason. 

– When the total is 5.5, road teams with three wins in their past four are 193-118 UNDER (62%) when playing eight or more games in a 14 day stretch.

Montreal’s power play is up to 20.6% on the season, thanks to a recent 5-for-15 (33.3%) streak in their past five games. Against the Leafs, the Habs have only connected twice on 13 opportunities (15.4%) since February, and goals will again be hard to come by. 


Friday, May 7, 2021, 7 PM ET

Line: Lightning -160 and 5.5 UN -125

The Stars are 8-17 on the road this season including four straight losses. They’re scoring has dried up and their season average for road games is down to 2.3 goals. To put that in perspective, only two teams — the Ducks and Wings — have less firepower. 

One more thing about the Stars. Since April 6, they have allowed 3.4 goals per game including nine third period goals. The OVER is 5-3-1 and in desperate times, teams will tend to pull their goalie with substantial time remaining. 

– Tampa’s record this year when faced with immediate revenge is 21-9 OVER (70%). 

The Bolts are 7-3 OVER their past 10 vs. teams they just beat, so this game has the makings of a shootout. 


Friday, May 7, 2021, 10 PM ET

Line: Avalanche -260 and 5.5 UN -125 

All eight teams in the West will go into battle on Friday and with three spots locked up, the Kings are dangling by a thread to stay alive. The Kings are 9-16 at home but 50 percent of those losses were by a one-goal margin. At 52.9%, the Kings are in the midst of their highest OVER-percentage season since 2007-08, and they are 6-17 SU this year against a team that they will also face in the next outing. The Avs scored 14 goals in their past four vs. San Jose, right on pace with their 3.5 GPG average for the season Colorado is also 4-2 SU away off a road loss.