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Betting on player props has become an increasingly popular way for bettors to get involved in the action. Normally, people think about the NFL or NBA when thinking player props, but there's also money to be made in the NHL market. Goals, points, shots and saves are all popular player prop bets when it comes to hockey. In these playoffs, two of the league's biggest stars have been absolute money for bettors and there's little reason to expect that to change.
Igor Shesterkin makes a lot of saves
Rangers' goaltender Igor Shesterkin currently has the third-best odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the NHL playoffs. Shesterkin is sitting at +700 to win the award, behind only the Avalanche duo of Nathan MacKinnon (+350) and Cale Makar (+400). The Rangers goaltender has been absolutely phenomenal since being pulled in back-to-back games in the first round. He's also been money to bettors that have backed him in the saves prop market.
Betting on a goaltender to hit the over on his saves prop isn't as simple as backing the best goaltenders. You need an offense on the other end that can generate offense, and you need to play behind a defense that allows shots from their opponent.
During the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning averaged nearly 31 shots a game, and that's up to nearly 32 shots per game in these playoffs. They've managed those playoff numbers against mostly Toronto and Florida, two teams who dominate puck possession and spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. The Rangers on the other hand, are below average in most puck possession metrics and instead prefer to attack off the rush and on the counter-attack, which should theoretically allow Tampa Bay to control possession and spend more time in the offensive zone.
In these playoffs, the Rangers are allowing nearly 39 shots per game, with opponents firing nearly 71 shot attempts and 54 unblocked shot attempts towards the Rangers' net per game. As a result, Shesterkin has made 511 saves in these playoffs, 111 more than Mike Smith, who ranks second.
Shesterkin's save prop for Game 1 against Tampa Bay was set at 28.5 saves, and he easily eclipsed that, turning aside 37 of 39 Tampa Bay shots. This was the third straight game Shesterkin made 37 saves. He's made at least 29 saves in six straight games and 11 of the 13 playoff games that he's finished. Not only is Shesterkin arguably the best goalie in the sport, but his team plays a style that allows him to face a bunch of shots.
We can expect Shesterkin's save prop to open at a similar number for Game 2 as it was in Game 1. Even if there's a slight uptick, it wouldn't scare me off. Tampa Bay should come out much stronger in Game 2 after their embarrassing loss in Game 1, which will likely result in a lot of action around the Rangers' netminder.
Connor McDavid scores a lot of points
Connor McDavid currently leads the NHL playoffs in points, tallying 29 points in just 13 games. He's 11-to-1 to win the Conn Smythe, which is basically in line with the Oilers' odds to win the Stanley Cup at +900. He has been unleashed on a national stage in these playoffs, and it truly has been fascinating to watch.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, McDavid had a goal and two assists as he was directly involved in three of Edmonton's six goals in an 8-6 loss to the Avalanche. This was McDavid's 11th multi-point game of the playoffs. As mentioned above, he's played just 13 games.
If only there was a way to cash in on this dominant talent. Thankfully, there is. McDavid is -130 to score 2+ points in Game 2 on Thursday night, odds that suggest he records a multi-point game just over 56% of the time. However, as we've seen, he's accomplished that feat in almost 85% of his playoff games.
McDavid is probably the best talent this sport has to offer. He's led the league in points four times in his first seven seasons, including this past regular season. He's won the Hart Trophy (MVP) twice already in his career, and he's been a finalist two other times, including this year. However, there's even more going for McDavid in this series.
As we saw in Game 1, there will be goals in this series. Edmonton scored six and lost. The teams combined for 14 goals. The total for Game 2 is set at 7 goals, with some solid juice on the over side. That's a rare total for regular season hockey, let alone the conference finals. While we might not see 14 goals in every game, there's plenty of reason to believe the goals will keep flowing between two teams loaded with elite talent. Obviously, the more goals scored, the more opportunity McDavid has to compile points.
Helping McDavid even more is the Avalanche goaltender situation, as normal starter Darcy Kuemper is out for Game 2 and potentially longer. Colorado will turn to Pavel Francouz, who's a solid backup, but the Avalanche traded away quality assets to bring in Kuemper during the offseason for a reason. It's a downgrade in net for Colorado. Francouz was beaten three times on 21 shots in Game 1 after he replaced Kuemper, as Edmonton almost erased a 7-3 deficit in that game.
McDavid is a good bet to score 2+ points even in normal circumstances, but in this type of series, against a backup goaltender, you have to like that bet even more.