The season is heading into its final stretch, and just like teams, the players are beginning to separate themselves in the scoring races. Now is a good time to look into options to put a few bets down on potential Hart Trophy winners as the NHL’s most valuable player for the 2021-22 season. There are a number of ways you can look to when placing future bets this late into the season. With under half the season left to play, you can choose to take the favourite, chase value, or take a chance at the home run play.
The Favourite – Oilers in 6 (+220)
It’s amazing what a series of home games can do for the Oilers’ confidence. Despite a second-period collapse and a third-period blunder by Mike Smith, Edmonton dug deep and found a way to win Game 5. Off the backs of two-goal games from Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers find themselves in the driver’s seat. One more win will send them to the Western Conference Final, but, to do so, they’ll need to beat the Flames for a fourth consecutive time.
It’s the run fans expected Connor McDavid to have, as he currently sits at over two points per game. He’s been the most exciting player to watch in this year’s postseason, but he hasn’t done it alone. The Oilers are finally getting the secondary scoring they’ve desperately required over the last decade. The favourite for these odds is to see Edmonton win the series in six games, but don’t be surprised if they end it in Calgary.
The Value Pick – Flames in 7 (+440)
One area of improvement that the Flames can seek is the play of Jacob Markstrom. After a regular season to remember and a first-round goaltending duel with Jake Oettinger, he’s looked very human. The Oilers have found a way to strike early and often and have rattled him to the bone. Even after the Flames got back into Game 4 off a lucky bounce, he surrendered a late third-period goal that he usually would stop.
If he can tighten things up and the defense around him do a better job at clearing out passing lanes in the high slot, the Flames can get back into the series. The Flames face the tough task of defeating the Oilers three times. On a positive note, Smith looks just as human as Markstrom but is getting bailed out by the Oilers’ offense. If they continue getting under his skin and piling on goals, this series could be a lot closer than it currently is.
The Home Run Play – Oilers in 7 (+610)
Should the Flames make it to Game 7, the best return for your dollar is taking the Oilers in 7. This line brings the best return out of any other outcome. It does involve the Flames taking the next two games, including one on the road, but it’s entirely possible. Calgary is resilient, as they showcased in Round 1 against the Dallas Stars, so don’t count them out too quickly. They still boast one of the best offensive duos in Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk, and either one of them can steal a game or two.
Unfortunately, they face a team that ices McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and with Kane and Nugent-Hopkins heating up, the pendulum swings in favour of Edmonton. Smith is inconsistent, but when he’s on top of his game, he’s one of the hardest goaltenders to beat. If the Oilers can squeak one more of those performances out of him, they’ll be heading off to the next round. It all depends on Smith and the defense surrounding him as the offense continues to strive.
Odds via FanDuel
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