The NHL regular season was supposed to end on Sunday, but the “buffer zone” that the league incorporated to host games postponed by COVID or weather has been activated. That means that we have another week’s worth of games and situational spots to consider.
The reality is that these are all going to be tough handicaps. Games that matter will feature price inflation because of what’s at stake. Games that don’t matter will be hard to figure out based on the effort levels of the teams involved.
I’d tread very lightly this week, especially with the playoffs on the horizon. Wait and bet on games where you know both teams will show up and give a full effort.
However, some may find value in the end of the regular season, so I’ll break it down day-by-day and see what makes sense.
Here are the NHL schedule spots and situational betting tips through the end of the regular season on May 19:
Monday May 10
Teams in a back-to-back with an off day:
Lightning at Panthers
Hurricanes at Predators
Teams in a back-to-back with no off day:
Stars at Blackhawks
The Lightning/Panthers game may have a little extra pizzazz with the fact that those are two of the top teams in the NHL.
Carolina needs this game to have any chance at the Presidents Trophy for the most points.
Dallas made a valiant effort, especially playing a lot of games in a short window to catch up from their COVID pause at the start of the season. With no playoff hopes, I have to think that the wind is out of their sails for this finale.
New York Islanders at Boston Bruins – The Islanders have had that massive home/road dichotomy this season that I’ve talked about a lot. They’ve been awesome at home and below average on the road. Playoff seeding could come into play in some of these early-week games. Maybe teams push for that, especially the chance to be at home. The Islanders won’t have that chance no matter what, but they’d certainly like to prove to themselves that they can win on the road I would think.
Colorado Avalanche at Vegas Golden Knights – I’m really interested to see how this game sets up. The two teams have had some great battles this season, but I feel like we’re going to see a lot of teams locked into the playoffs rest some guys. If one team does and the other team doesn’t, that game is going to look dramatically different. There are a lot of things to consider on that front with these remaining games.
Tuesday May 11
Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals – Do the Bruins push hard here? This may end up being a game for second place in the division and therefore home ice advantage, but it also may not be. This is a back-to-back for the Bruins in the regular season finale. I think you worry less about home ice and more about protecting your players, but we’ll see.
Vancouver Canucks at Winnipeg Jets – The Canucks are just playing out the string after a long and arduous battle with the biggest COVID-19 outbreak we saw in the NHL. I’m not sure they’ll be very invested in their remaining games and that includes a back-to-back here against the Jets.
Wednesday May 12
Edmonton Oilers at Montreal Canadiens – This is a tricky back-to-back for these two teams. The Oilers and Canadiens play at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday and turn around and play at 5 p.m. ET here on Wednesday. The Oilers aren’t playing for much except for some individual numbers, but don’t underestimate what those things mean to players.
Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues – The Blues have clinched, so they don’t have anything on the line here. Minnesota has incentive to try and get home ice in that all-important series with Colorado. That’s something for the Wild to vie for in this game and also Thursday’s matchup. The same applies to the Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche game.
Thursday May 13
Teams in a back-to-back with no off day:
Wild at Blues
Kings at Avalanche
Same things apply here.
Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames – When two teams are out of it, you look for goals. Defensive effort levels fade and the teams simply try to put up as many offensive numbers as possible. That’s what I’d look for in this spot.
Friday May 14
Toronto Maple Leafs at Winnipeg Jets – I have to think some players are just going to stay home for Toronto here. The Maple Leafs have zero incentive for this game. None whatsoever. There is no reason to jeopardize anybody or put anybody at risk. I’d probably have to look Winnipeg with that in mind.
Saturday May 15
Vancouver Canucks at Edmonton Oilers – Similarly, there is no reason for Edmonton to care here, unless Connor McDavid is going for some sort of big, round number or something. Frankly, he shouldn’t play this game anyway. Maybe Vancouver can pick off teams that don’t care, but that’s easier said than done.
Sunday May 16 – Wednesday May 19
Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks – Sunday is a B2B with travel for the Canucks, who may not even have to play this game if the NHL just decides that it isn’t worth it. Vancouver has played a ton of games in a short period of time with virtually every player on the roster coming off of a case of COVID. You really have to wonder how much, if anything, is left in the tank.
The Flames and Canucks play again on Tuesday in Vancouver and then again on Wednesday in Calgary, if the NHL forces the teams to play those games and play out the string. The playoffs should have honestly started by this point, so nobody will care about these games and whether or not they go off.
I have no idea how to even handicap them, to be honest. It’s just nice to put this unconventional season to bed and get to the playoffs.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the articles this season and gotten something out of them. Enjoy the playoffs and good luck!