Home ice advantage was on full display Wednesday in NHL Playoffs betting, as the Wild, Lightning and New York Islanders swept the board. While attendance numbers grow, will home ice advantage turn into the difference maker for hockey handicappers?
Smashville has led the NHL Playoffs in attendance thus far and will allow a record-high 14,107 fans to attend Game 6 of their Stanley Cup series vs. the Carolina Hurricanes
Home Ice Advantage, NHL Playoffs
Home ice in 2021 NHL Playoff betting hadn’t meant much before Wednesday night. Collectively, teams were 18-20 for a .474 win percentage and on an average moneyline betting price of -135, 47 percent is just a slow ride to the poor house. Dime bettors were already down -$7,170 had they simply blanket bet the home side.
Any best-of-seven playoff series will develop an identity as the stakes increase, however. And with fans being able to attend these games on an ever-increasing basis, we caught a glimpse Wednesday of the impact a building’s intensity can and should have on a game.
- The Islanders, Lightning and Wild — All three ranking inside the top six for home winning percentage this season, went 3-0 for +$3,200 on May 26.
Toronto hosts Montreal in Game 5 of their series on Thursday and unlike American venues, the Leafs are unable to host fans. Nashville is a different story, where fans have packed into Bridgestone Arena to a league-high 70.9% capacity thus far. The NHL has approved another increase for Game 6 of their series vs. Carolina and tonight we can expect 14,107 raucous, masked up Preds fans in the building.
Carolina is just behind Nashville with 64.2% capacity reached in their first three home games and so far the home team in this series is 5-0. The Hurricanes are 23-8 (.742) with home ice advantage this year, tied for second-best in the NHL, but they’d much rather save that next home date up for Round 2.
My betting previews for the Canadiens-Maple Leafs and Hurricanes-Predators are below. In Round 1 NHL Playoff betting my picks are 29-14 (67%) for a huge bankroll gain of +$17,410. Dime bettors are up +$24,700 with my hockey picks in 2021 and the action is just heating up!
Montreal at Toronto (3-1), Game 5
Thursday, May 26, 7:00 PM ET
Line: Maple Leafs -235 and 5.5 UN -135
The Montreal Canadiens took the first game of this series 2-1. Highlights for interim coach Dominic Ducharme’s beleaguered squad have since been few and far between. Montreal also beat the Leafs 3-2 back on May 3 but they are 1-8 in the nine games that followed and teetering on the brink of elimination.
Montreal’s power play has been completely shut down (0-for-13), looking more like a preseason version than any competent playoff unit. The Habs did score a shorthanded goal, one of just four total goals in this series, and they lead all playoff teams with 44 hits per game. They also rank highest in giveaways, however, at 14.5 per game. With pedestrian faceoff numbers and a miniscule 3.5 shooting percentage at 5-on-5, the writing is on the wall.
- Of the five lowest shooting-percentages in the playoffs (Penguins, Capitals, Blues, Oilers, Habs), all but Montreal have been eliminated.
Montreal holds a 2-1 scoring advantage in the first period vs. Toronto. In the second and third, the Leafs have lowered the hammer 8-1 and 3-1 respectively. Carey Price has played great but everyone knew that Price had to be at the top of his game for Montreal to even have a chance. He can’t score the goals and without offense, they are done.
- Playoff road dogs off a blowout loss by 4-plus goals are 34-17 UNDER (67%).
- Playoff road teams that have lost three-straight are 33-23 (59%) on the moneyline, playing UNDER at a rate of 61%.
Everything points at a Leafs win and that probability has been baked into these moneyline odds. It won’t surprise me to see this line get higher throughout the day as public money floods in on the ‘can’t lose’ fave of the day, either. Check my NHL Consensus Data for betting percentages. NHL teams with a 3-1 series lead in all rounds are 179-140 (.561) but in the first round, that Game 5 win percentage is just .488 (60-63).
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Carolina (3-2) at Nashville, Game 6
Thursday, May 27, 9:30 PM ET
Line: Hurricanes -140 and 5.5 UN -135
It’s a late start in Nashville and given the number of overtime periods these two have battled through, conditioning could play a role. Scoring by periods, these two are even in the first 20 minutes at 5-5, and even in the second 4-4. Carolina holds an 8-2 advantage in the third period, the majority of which came in the first two games where the Canes hammered down 5-0 in the final frame, two of five goals going into an empty cage.
During the regular season, each of these teams were slow starters. The Canes posted 41 first period goals and the Predators ranked 30th with 36. They were even in the third, but Carolina had a distinct edge in the middle stanza with 66 goals (T-4th). The Preds were 23rd with 48.
The thing about Nashville, though, is that it was really a story of two seasons. They only scored 2.5 and 2.2 goals per game (GPG) in January-February. In March that average increased to 2.9 and then again in April to 3.3 GPG. This is going to be a tightly contested game and home ice advantage will be more prevalent tonight than at any point this entire season.
- Carolina is 7-0 all-time in any series they led 3-2, but just 4-3 in Game 6.
- Nashville has an all-time record of 3-7 in Game 6 when trailing a series 3-2.
- Game 6 road teams off a home win are 34-20 (63%) all-time when leading 3-2.
Goaltending has been stellar throughout this series and whichever netminder plays his game of the year tonight, could be the difference. Alex Nedeljkovic is sporting a .927 save percentage, not far from his .932 regular season data. Juuse Saros has the edge in playoff experience, but this is only his second year as a bona fide starter. His all-time record in nine playoff starts is 3-6 with a .918 save percentage and 2.53 goals-against average.