Live NHL series bets: Finding value after Game 4s

Andy Devlin / National Hockey League / Getty

Checking in on the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is supposed to involve a look at four series, but the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers surprisingly went ice-cold and got swept. Florida finished 1-for-13 on the power play and 1-for-30 in even-strength high-danger scoring chances (HDC) in its series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning had just two more opportunities on the man advantage and averaged one more HDC per game. However, they did a lot more with their chances en route to a return to the conference finals.

We can blame the Panthers for being out of sync, but the main culprit was Andrei Vasilevskiy. The netminder brushed off a mediocre series with the Toronto Maple Leafs and racked up an outstanding plus-10.29 goals saved above expectation (GSAx) against Florida. It would have been excessive for even those with the most respect for the Conn Smythe Trophy winner to expect that performance.

In sports betting, we're hoping to get reliable outcomes that are more probable to win than the odds give them credit. So, as the other second-round series hit the home stretch, we'll look to see if any of those outcomes are worth betting.

Blues @ Avalanche

5-on-5 play

Blues 6.54 23 4
Avalanche 8.84 37 3

Who knows how this would have ended up had Jordan Binnington not been removed with his team ahead 1-0 in Game 3 in a series tied 1-1. But Ville Husso's minus-4.94 GSAx in just 108 minutes of play is the St. Louis Blues' new reality.

Fans hoping for a close and competitive series are just as disappointed as bettors looking for a bet here. Our reality is that there's no reason to think that the Blues are a viable bet at 15-1. On the flip side, the Colorado Avalanche are priced out of a bet since you'd need to wager $4,500 to win $100.

Best bet

In the immediacy, Colorado's Game 5 moneyline of -245 is just a 2% adjustment from the Game 1 price of -220. That doesn't seem like enough, given what we've seen from Husso and the Blues' inability to move on from Binnington's injury.

Long term, Cale Makar has dazzled, leading the Avalanche in scoring, and he's still +450 to win the Conn Smythe - considerably longer than the Stanley Cup odds for Colorado (+140).

Rangers @ Hurricanes

5-on-5 play

Hurricanes 9.44 48 2
Rangers 8.04 31 3

Pick your favorite number to tell the story of why this series is tied 2-2:

After finding himself on the bench twice during the New York Rangers' first-round magic act victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, Shesterkin has been his Vezina-favorite self through four games against Carolina.

Best bet

We bet on predictable outcomes in this space. If we take the numbers above and throw in the Canes' 0-for-9 power play, we have to believe the storm that Carolina is bringing will eventually knock down the wall that Shesterkin has been.

Whether it's the slightly improved value of -145 in the Game 5 moneyline or a considerable change in the series price (-150) down to a best-of-three, it's time to back the Hurricanes since the play on the ice hasn't provided any surprises.

Oilers @ Flames

5-on-5 play

Flames 9.07 40 4
Oilers 7.38 30 8

Sure, Mike Smith is the one giving up 132-foot game-tying goals, but it's the Edmonton Oilers who are converting goals at a seemingly unsustainable rate. The counterargument is that the quality of those scoring chances is better than average when Connor McDavid creates them. If that's the case, a HDC conversion rate greater than 14% could be expected. Edmonton's 26.7% conversion rate is an outlier, though.

Best bet

The Calgary Flames have created more during even-strength play, but is it enough to expect three straight wins to pull off the comeback? At +425, the odds imply the Flames have a 19% chance of doing so.

We've already cashed the Oilers +1.5 games that we recommended before the series and again last week after Edmonton lost Game 1. If you followed along with the pre-series preview, you're sitting on a +195 bet on the Oilers to close this out. However, there's reason to believe the Flames can win as favorites at home in Game 5. Calgary could force a seventh game with marginally better goaltending - something reasonable to expect from Jacob Markstrom. So a small playback on the Flames securing more profit isn't out of the question.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

Live NHL series bets: Finding value after Game 4s
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