NHL Best Bets

Today will be the last time we have a loaded Saturday slate with 13 NHL games across the board, so let’s have fun with this. There are some meaningful games, especially in the Eastern Conference, with five different teams battling for the last two playoff spots, so keep an eye on the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and Philadelphia Flyers. Let’s get into my NHL best bets.

New York Islanders at New York Rangers (-170, 5.5)

The New York Islanders’ magic number to clinch the playoffs is one. This means they need a single point to play meaningful hockey this Spring. This afternoon, the Islanders take on their rival, the New York Rangers, in a rematch from Tuesday night. The Islanders got the best of the Rangers this week as they skated to a 4-2 win at UBS Arena, but today should have a much different feel to it. 


This is now a very important game for the Rangers, who are battling for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the entire NHL. This game feels like it will be a goaltending battle between Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin. Even though the head coaches haven’t named an official starter when writing this, that is the expected matchup. 

Ilya Sorokin is getting the start today for the first time in quite a bit. This will be his first start since April 4th, so this is a very important game for him personally. In his last three starts, Sorokin is 2-1-0 with a 2.03 goals against average and a .920 save percentage, but Semyon Varlamov has been their guy in the blue paint as of late. 

This is going to be a playoff game. I expect both teams to play very tight defensively, doing their best to not give up an inch to their opponent. This game should have a great buzz right from the opening puck drop, but both groups will lock it down defensively. 

NHL Best Bet: Under 1.5 goals in the first period -110 (play to -125)

New Jersey at Philadelphia (-125, 6.5)

The Philadelphia Flyers got themselves back in the mix with a huge 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night. They’re now just one point back of the second wild card spot, so these last two games for them are most definitely must-win. 

While the New Jersey Devils are coming off of a solid 6-5 win against Toronto, they’re playing without their most important player, Jack Hughes, which hurts them. 

While this recent stretch of games hasn’t been exactly what the Flyers had hoped for, their win on Thursday has given them a bit of a mental boost, and their effort in today’s game shouldn’t be a concern. 

The Devils have allowed 10 goals in their last two games, so they’re not necessarily a team that knows how to lock it down in their defensive zone. New Jersey has the fifth-worst goals against in the NHL, allowing 3.45 goals against per game. It’s not like the Flyers are this offensive wagon, but New Jersey gives up a ton, so Philadelphia could be able to take advantage of them in that regard. 

I’m sticking with the theme of desperation today. The Flyers have everything to play for. 

NHL Bet: Philadelphia Flyers ML -125 (play to -135)

Boston at Pittsburgh (+110, 6)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the league’s hottest teams. They have gone 7-0-3 in their last 10 games, yet for some reason, they’re a home underdog today. That said, this won’t be an easy game for them, as the Boston Bruins are still trying to lock up the first spot in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins are just one point ahead of the Florida Panthers, so the points matter just as much for them as they do for the Penguins. 

Pittsburgh has a one-point lead over the teams battling for the second wild card spot. Sidney Crosby has been one of the hottest guys in the league as of late. He’s scored eight goals and added 12 assists in his last 10 games, but he’s also gotten some help from Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin, who each scored six goals in the team’s last 10 games. 

Alex Nedeljkovic is the likely starter today considering that he has owned the blue paint in this latest stretch. He’s gone 7-0-3 just like the team in his last 10 starts while boasting a 2.81 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. 

Linus Ullmark is likely to start today, as Jeremy Swayman started in the team’s last game. Boston typically has its goaltenders alternate each game, and it’s worked for them all year. Ullmark has put up some great numbers as of late: He has gone 3-2-0 with a 1.8 goals against average and a .941 save percentage. 

Over the past three weeks, the Penguins have been the second-best offensive team in the NHL. They’ve been scoring 4.00 goals per game, which is an area where they have an edge over Boston, considering that the Bruins have only been scoring 2.44 goals per game. 

Both teams have had good goaltending of late, but like my previous two picks, I’m going with the home dogs, who desperately need the two points. 

NHL Best Bet: Pittsburgh Penguins ML +110 (play to -110)

April Record: 13-4 (+8.60 units)

2023-24 record: 142–136 (-20.11 units)