|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|10-22-19||Oilers v. Wild -121||Top||0-3||Win||100||12 h 21 m||Show|
10* Minnesota (8:05 ET): Edmonton’s 7-1-1 record is a bit misleading when you consider they had to come from behind in each of their first five victories. In one of the two they didn’t, they were outshot 52-22 (by the Flyers). Back when we faded the Oilers two Sundays ago in Chicago (that’s where they suffered their 1st loss), I called the team’s current shooting percentage a “Houdini Act” and that it wouldn’t be sustainable. I still feel that way. Despite being LAST in the league in shots per game, the Oilers are 9th in goals. They can’t keep that up.
Minnesota is a team that happens to rank near the bottom of the league in goals per game. Not much was expected from the Wild coming into the season w/ many going so far as to project them for last place in the Central, which is the toughest division in the sport. Sure enough, they are 2-6 and have the worst goal differential (-14) in the entire league. But the Wild are coming off an OT win over Montreal on Sunday, so hopefully that creates a spark. Edmonton lost its last game in a shootout (1-0 at Winnipeg Sunday). Tonight marks just the 3rd home game for the Wild.
This play simply boils down to us still being highly skeptical of Edmonton. While 7-1-1 on the year, their other numbers don’t paint the picture of a dominant team. We played against them in their lone regulation loss so far and that’s been the only time we’ve either played on or against them so far in 2019. Remember Chicago was winless at the time. Consider tonight the next in what could be a long line of fades, unless something really changes. Minnesota’s biggest problem so far has been on the goals allowed side of the ledger. But w/ Edmonton averaging so few shots, let’s call for Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk to step up tonight. 10* Minnesota
|10-20-19||Capitals -131 v. Blackhawks||Top||5-3||Win||100||10 h 43 m||Show|
10* Washington (7:05 ET): Both of these teams have been winners for us recently. The Capitals beat the Rangers 5-2 on Friday while the Blackhawks downed Edmonton back on Monday. Washington has played a lot more games this year (9 vs. 5) than Chicago, which was the same thing as the most recent matchup against the Rangers. The Blackhawks have won B2B games since opening with three straight losses, but the Caps are better and get the job done Sunday. They are averaging 4.2 goals over the L5 games.
Washington has also won B2B games and they are getting contributions from a variety of players in the recent scoring barrage. John Carlson continues to lead the team w/ 17 points. T.J. Oshie scored twice against the Rangers, giving him six goals for the season. Of course, Alex Ovechkin is still skating as well. Between the pipes, Braden Holtby is 8-3 w/ a 2.88 GAA in 12 career starts vs. Chicago. The Caps are 48-26 when facing a team w/ a losing record.
Chicago will debut 18-year old prospect Kirby Dach tonight. That’s exciting and certainly makes the Blackhawks’ future seem promising. But they’ve still got to worry about winning in the present and that means beating a Capitals team that is just plain better right now. After opening the year in Prague, the ‘Hawks have exclusively played home games. Just don’t think they have the firepower to keep up here. Goalie Corey Crawford has lost 7 of his 10 career starts vs. Washington. The Blackhawks are 30-53 vs. .500 or better foes. 10* Washington
|10-18-19||Rangers v. Capitals -200||Top||2-5||Win||100||11 h 10 m||Show|
6* Washington (7:05 ET): In terms of workload, it's been two completely different starts to the season for these two Metropolitan Division teams. Wednesday's 4-3 win over Toronto was the Capitals' eighth game this season. Meanwhile, the Rangers have played only four games and that includes last night's 5-2 loss to previously winless New Jersey. But things are set to get a lot "busier" for the Blueshirts as they're about to play five games in eight days, including their first back to back tonight in the Nation's capital. No doubt as to who the stronger side is here and we can't say we're surprised at all to see the line get steamed up.
Washington is 4-2-2 and has given up the same number of goals (26) that they have scored. So it's been a pretty mediocre start (by their standard). John Carlson, not Alex Ovechkin, leads the team in points (14). That's definitely not a bad thing and really not that big of a surprise either. Carlson had a career-best 70 pts last season. While it's been a pretty pedestrian start for the team, including a 1-1-2 record at home, the Caps should enter Friday's game w/ plenty of confidence seeing as they've defeated the Rangers six straight times, including a 4-0 sweep last season (three of the wins coming after regulation). They've also won 9 of the previous 10 head to head matchups.
The Rangers have actually scored 1st in all four games this season. But after totaling 10 goals in the first two games (both wins), they've managed only three in the last two (both losses). A 4-1 win over Ottawa is the only game where they haven't surrendered at least four goals. That's a bad sign. So is the situation tonight. New York has lost 28 of the last 36 times they've had to play a game w/o rest. They are also 6-21 SU their L27 times coming off a loss by 3+ goals. They are 5-16 SU their L21 games as a road underdog of +151 to +200. The trends, the situation and talent all favor one side here and that's who we're (obviously) going with. 6* Washington
|10-17-19||Wild v. Canadiens -155||Top||0-4||Win||100||9 h 57 m||Show|
8* Montreal (7:05 ET): The Wild are struggling mightily right now as they've opened 1-5 SU. The end of a three-game swing through Eastern Canada is probably NOT the time we'll see them "get right," even though this happens to be an opponent they have defeated NINE straight times. That nine-game losing streak is probably not lost on those in the Habs' locker room as they too are looking to bounce back from a loss. Hosting Tampa Bay, the Canadiens lost 3-1 Tuesday even though they had a 34-22 edge in shots on goal. This being their fourth consecutive home game, the spot is so much better for Montreal here and they're playing w/ some serious revenge to boot.
For a team that's lost four of its first six games, the Canadiens have played better than you might think. They've only been outscored by two goals. Their first two losses both came past regulation and were on the road. Finishing this homestand w/ a .500 record would seem imperative as they'll hit the road twice this weekend, including a rematch in Minnesota. The goals allowed side of the ledger has been a bit of a problem so far for the Habs w/ them allowing at least three goals in every game. But here they'll be facing one of the league's lowest scoring teams (just 14 goals in six games). Only one time has the Wild scored more than twice in a game this year and they lost 7-4.
Other than their one win, which was 2-0 over an Ottawa team that is really bad, Minnesota has had major issues stopping their opponents from scoring. In five losses this year, they've allowed 25 goals. Not sure what HC Bruce Boudreau is doing sitting some of his key forwards in every game. What we do know is this Montreal losing streak to Minnesota dates back to December 2014. It's not like the Wild have been substantially better these last five years, so really the head to head streak makes little sense. Look for the Habs to snap in tonight. 8* Montreal
|10-15-19||Predators v. Golden Knights UNDER 6.5||Top||5-2||Loss||-113||14 h 9 m||Show|
10* Under Predators/Knights (10:05 ET): Vegas is looking like one of the league's better teams in the early going, which was expected. They are our call to win the Pacific Division this year and they've started 4-2 w/ 24 goals scored. The season started w/ a home and home sweep of rival San Jose, followed by two straight losses to Boston and Arizona. But the Golden Knights have bounced back w/ convincing wins over Calgary and Los Angeles where they notched 11 goals. Whether or not the team is successful tonight vs. Nashville remains to be seen, but we like the goal scoring pace to slow down a bit here. Take the Under.
The Preds are perennially one of the better teams in the Western Conference. They won the Central Division LY, but were then unceremoniously bounced in the 1st round of the playoffs by Dallas. This year has seen them start 3-2, but the "real story" is how high-scoring the games have been as all five have seen at least seven total goals scored. Their last one resulted in a 7-4 loss to the Kings. The Over is now 5-0 in all Nashville games this season, a trend worth noting as it's likely to come to an end a lot sooner rather than later. Vegas is often a difficult place for the visiting team to score, so tonight seems like just as good a spot as any for the Predators to see their first Under of the 2019-20 campaign.
This will be Nashville's 4th ever venture into Sin City and the previous results demonstrate what we were talking about earlier, that being it's hard to score when you're visiting here. The Predators have managed just three goals in the three previous trips here. But the big issue for Nashville right now has been the goaltending as they have an overall save percentage of .861, which is 29th out of 31 teams. That'll improve over time w/ Pekka Rinne between the pipes. Vegas has one of the top save percentages in the league (.928) as Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 69 of the 74 shots he saw in the L2 games. One area where the Knights will regress is the power play, which was a perfect 3 for 3 against the Kings. That will be difficult, if not impossible, to repeat. 10* Under Predators/Knights
|10-14-19||Oilers v. Blackhawks -135||Top||1-3||Win||100||12 h 46 m||Show|
9* Chicago (8:35 ET): We're looking at a couple of very different starts to the season here w/ the Oilers and Blackhawks. Edmonton is 5-0, one of three remaining unbeatens in the league (Buffalo, Colorado). That's not something we saw coming as the Oilers finished w/ just 78 and 79 pts respectively the L2 years, putting them near the bottom of the Western Conference. It seems like forever ago that this team had its breakout campaign (103 pts in 2016-17) as superstar Conor McDavid had almost been toiling in obscurity, wasting his best years on a non-contender. Maybe this year is going to be different? Regardless, we're fading Edmonton tonight in a must-win spot for the opponent.
The Blackhawks are 0-2-1. They join New Jersey and Minnesota as the only three teams in the league yet to have tasted victory this season. The reason for Chicago having played only three games so far is that they opened the season in Prague (Czech Republic). They had a full five days off before they played again and obviously still haven't won. But all three losses have been by one goal, including an OT defeat at the hands of Winnipeg Saturday. Since losing 4-3 to the Flyers in Prague, it's been B2B losses here at home. The home opener against San Jose saw the Blackhawks blow a 1-goal advantage FOUR times before eventually losing 5-4. The overtime loss to the Jets was even worse as they wasted an early 2-0 lead, which included a short-handed goal.
It speaks volumes that a winless team is favored to beat an undefeated one, even on home ice. Furthermore, we've seen the ML get steamed up. So Chicago definitely appears to be the "sharp" side in this Monday night matchup. Most bettors (rightfully) seem a bit wary of the Oilers at this point. One thing is for certain and that's they're not going to be able to maintain a 17.1 shooting percentage moving forward. Averaging 4.4 goals on just 25.8 shots per game is a real "Houdini act" if you know what we mean. Also, Edmonton has had to come from behind in all five wins! Both Chicago goaltenders have a good history when facing the Oilers. 9* Chicago
|10-13-19||Flames v. Sharks -130||Top||1-3||Win||100||11 h 28 m||Show|
9* San Jose (10:05 ET): Terrible spot for Calgary tonight. It's not just the second game of a back to back (lost 6-2 in Vegas last night), but also their third road game in four nights. It's not been a great start for the club that had the most points in the Western Conference last year. Not surprised by that; they were expected to regress some. Because it's the second night of a B2B, the Flames have to go w/ a backup goalie for the first time this year. It's Cam Talbot, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason. The former Oilers' netminder wasn't particularly effective last year, turning in an .889 save percentage. He was 11-17-3 in 30 starts.
San Jose started 0-4, but was able to notch two points w/ a 5-4 win over Chicago Thursday. Credit the return of Patrick Marleau, who had missed the first four game. Marleau, who is in his second tour of duty here in San Jose, scored twice. It was a rusty Blackhawks team the Sharks were facing Thursday as Chicago had not played since opening its season in Prague. Now its a very different situation for the opponent, who is playing w/o rest. Yet both situations are conducive to the Sharks winning. They are 6-2 the L8 times hosting Calgary and not all those games were a situation as good as this.
This is only San Jose's second home game. The first was a loss to Vegas, something they can converse about w/ Calgary, who just lost to the Golden Knights last night. It was not a strong 60 minutes of hockey, which should be apparent from the final score of 6-2. It was the third time in five games that the Flames surrendered at least four goals. San Jose isn't as bad as it looked the first four games and having Marleau back is huge. 9* San Jose
|10-10-19||Bruins v. Avalanche UNDER 5.5||Top||2-4||Loss||-104||10 h 29 m||Show|
10* Under Bruins/Avalanche (9:05 ET): Boston will look to complete an unbeaten Western road swing to start the year as they visit Denver tonight. Already, the Bruins have won in Dallas, Arizona and Vegas, the latter of which isn't easy to do. Right now a case could be made that the Bruins are the best team in the league, but it's too early for us to make any declarative statements like that. Plus, the Bruins aren't the only unbeaten team in this matchup. The Avalanche are 2-0 having scored nine goals in home victories over Calgary and Minnesota. Tonight, we look for a low-scoring game and are on the Under.
Solid goaltending is nothing new in Beantown as it led the Bruins all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last year where they eventually went down to the Blues in seven games. Between Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, the team save percentage this year is at .959 as the duo has allowed just four goals on 98 shots. Rask is likely to be the one in goal this evening and while it was Halak that turned in the 1-0 shutout of Arizona last Saturday, Rask remains the more reliable option. Interestingly enough, Rask did not start either game vs. the Avs last season. Colorado will quickly find out that they were lucky to have missed him twice. They won't be so fortunate tonight.
The Avs come in shooting at a pretty high percentage the first two games (14.1%). That's simply not sustainable over any reasonable length of time, so we're looking at an offense due to regress facing one of the top goaltenders in the league. Also, the skaters might be a bit rusty for the Avs tonight as they've been off for the last four days. But the time off does allow for Philipp Grubauer to make his third start of the year. He made 29 saves in the win over Minnesota and 27 in the win over Calgary. The Under is 36-16 in the Bruins' last 52 games. 10* Under Bruins/Avalanche
|10-09-19||Kings v. Canucks -162||Top||2-8||Win||100||10 h 19 m||Show|
8* Vancouver (10:05 ET): Two also-rans from the Pacific Division collide late Wednesday. Normally, we might just sit this one out, but the situation really works to Vancouver's favor. Los Angeles is playing its third straight game in Western Canada and is in the second night of a back to back. The Kings pulled off a huge upset last night, beating Calgary 4-3 as +210 ML underdogs. But they needed overtime to do so, making this tough situation all the more challenging. We just don't see the Kings being able to win again tonight.
Vancouver is 0-2, so there's already a sense of desperation here. Like the Kings, the Canucks season began w/ two games in Alberta. They lost 3-2 to Edmonton and then were shutout 3-0 by Calgary. But unlike LA, the Canucks have had three days off since their last game. Disheartening for Vancouver is they outshot their first two opponents. Coming off a shutout loss, there are rumors that they may "tinker" w/ their top line tonight. Free agent signing Micheal Ferland was dropped to the third line on practice Tuesday. Usually, in the short term, these line changes provide a temporary boost.
The Canucks won three of four meetings LY w/ the Kings. Let's not forget how bad the Kings were last season as they finished w/ the fewest points in the Western Conference. They came out unusually strong last night, outshooting Calgary 20-3 in the first period en route to eventually taking an early 3-0 lead. That held up, but we don't envision a similar performance tonight. Both goaltenders have save percentages below .900. The Kings lost the opener to Edmonton, giving up six goals. We're likely to see a performance more closely resembling that than what we saw last night. 10* Vancouver
|10-08-19||Oilers v. Islanders -155||Top||5-2||Loss||-155||11 h 60 m||Show|
8* NY Islanders (7:05 ET): The Oilers are one of three teams in the Pacific to open 2-0, but both wins were of the one-goal variety, at home and against bad teams (Kings, Canucks). We see a much different result unfolding tonight as the hit the road for the first time. They travel cross-country to face the Islanders, who have yet to leave Uniondale this season. After dropping the opener (2-1 to the Capitals), they came back w/ a 4-1 win over Winnipeg on Sunday, a game in which the Isles never trailed and got 35 saves from goaltender Thomas Greiss. Look for them to get two more points Tuesday.
Greiss had a career-year last season, turning in a 2.27 GAA. Last season's turnaround on the goals allowed side of the ledger was really stunning. Barry Trotz inherited a team that had given up the most goals EVER in an 82-game season the year prior. But in 2018-19, the Isles gave up the FEWEST goals in the league! They probably won't be that stingy again this season, but we like them to be up to the challenge tonight. While Edmonton did score six goals in its last game, they did so against a Kings team that has fallen on hard times. The Oilers are just 21-31 after scoring 4+ goals in their previous contest.
While Edmonton is 2-0, both games saw late comebacks in which they scored twice in the final 10 minutes. Against the Kings, they overcame a one-goal deficit four separate times before getting the go-ahead goal late in regulation. That sounds like an unsustainable blueprint for success to us and it should be noted the Oilers have not started a season w/ three straight wins in 11 years. If you give up five goals to a team like the Islanders, you have virtually zero chance of winning. The better team is underpriced here. 8* NY Islanders
|10-08-19||Stars v. Capitals UNDER 5.5||Top||4-3||Loss||-125||11 h 59 m||Show|
10* Under Stars/Capitals (7:05 ET): So far, every Capitals' game has stayed Under the total. They've won two of three, including an Opening Night victory over the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Blues. But they're off their 1st loss as they dropped the home opener Saturday to Carolina, 3-2. While it might seem natural to expect them to bounce back w/ a win tonight (facing an 0-3 team), we don't feel that confident taking a Caps team that has yet to score more than two goals in regulation and is really struggling on the power play (2 for 11 so far). Take the Under instead.
Dallas is off to its first 0-3 start since 1998. The games have gotten progressively higher scoring, but all have been one-goal defeats (1-2, 2-3 and 3-4). The most recent setback came in Detroit Sunday when they blew a two-goal lead (the Caps did the same against Carolina). In that loss, the Stars managed only 22 shots on goal, which simply won't get it done. One positive for the Stars though is they've really seemed to have Washington's number through the years. They've taken 24 of the previous 31 head to head matchups, including 11 of 14 here in D.C.
Neither team is giving up many shots in the early going. Washington is allowing just 25.3 per game, which is #1 in the league. Dallas isn't too far behind at 27.7 per game, tied for fifth. As alluded to earlier, the Capitals have been ineffective on the power play so far this season. Typically a strong team w/ the man advantage, they were 0 for 6 against Carolina. Evgeny Kuznetsov will return tonight from a suspension (for testing positive for cocaine), but who knows how effective he'll be. We know Dallas comes in desperate. They are 31-17 Under the L2 years after allowing 4+ goals in the previous game. With both teams starting their #1 goaltenders, this should be a low-scoring game. 10* Under Stars/Capitals
|10-04-19||Jets v. Devils -141||Top||5-4||Loss||-141||8 h 44 m||Show|
10* New Jersey (7:05 ET): The Devils are a very trendy choice to improve in the 2019-2020 season. They have a point projection of 91 points and are even money (-110) to make the playoffs according to oddsmakers. That may sound a "little rich" for a club that finished in last place w/ 72 points (2nd fewest in the East) last season. While we're not sure that we're "all in" on the Devils at this point (to reach the playoffs that is), they do find themselves in quite the advantageous spot to open their season. They are hosting Winnipeg, who lost a hard fought game last night to the Rangers. Good situational play on a team that's probably under the radar right now.
The Jets led the Rangers 4-3 last night after Kyle Connor struck w/ a power play goal early in the 3rd period. But from there, things all went downhill as they gave up three goals, the final one coming w/ a two man advantage in the final 20 seconds. It was a brutal loss, not just because they blew a lead on the road, but also because they outshot the Rangers 47-32 and had five power play opportunities. They converted just the one. Losing in the fashion they did (gave up game winner in final five minutes) and then turning around to play another road game the following night is a pretty brutal spot for any team.
While the Jets did finish w/ 99 points last season, let's not forget that they had a terrible finish to the regular season and then were bounced in the first round by St. Louis. While the Blues did go on to win the Stanley Cup, remember it was Winnipeg that had the home ice advantage in that series, so it was considered an "upset" at the time. Perhaps the biggest reason for optimism w/ New Jersey is former MVP Taylor Hall's presence on the roster. But they also made several key additions in the offseason while Winnipeg lost some key pieces. 10* New Jersey
|10-03-19||Sabres v. Penguins -160||Top||3-1||Loss||-160||9 h 23 m||Show|
8* Pittsburgh (7:05 ET): Surprisingly, Buffalo took two of the three head to head meetings w/ Pittsburgh last season. It's surprisingly because the Sabres finished w/ only 76 points, well out of playoff contention, while the Penguins were a solid playoff team that finished w/ 100 points. Now it did end up being a quick postseason exit for the Pens as they got swept by the Islanders. But that ending to the year should have them motivated as they are set to hit the ice for the first time in 2019. This should be an easy two points for the home team Thursday night.
The longest postseason drought in the league belongs to Buffalo, who has not made it in eight years. Our projections have them sitting out a ninth straight year. While they have Jack Eichel, the roster remains shallow and there's really nothing from the offseason to indicate any kind of significant improvement is on the horizon. Only two teams - Ottawa and New Jersey - had fewer road wins last year. They hired a 60-year old coach (Ralph Krueger) that has been out of the league for six years.
There was some concern over Sidney Crosby's status for the opener, but the Penguins superstar will be on the ice Thursday as his foot checked out just fine. He was hit by the puck in the final preseason game (which was against Buffalo). On the topic of "concern," we expect Evgeni Malkin to bounce back from a career-worst year in 2018-19 (just 21 points). The offseason swap of Kessel for Galchenyuk should end up being a net positive. Give us Matt Murray over Carter Hutton in the battle of goalies in this one. Hutton had a horrible 4-20 SU record in road starts last year for Buffalo. 8* Pittsburgh
|10-02-19||Capitals v. Blues -140||Top||3-2||Loss||-140||32 h 1 m||Show|
8* St. Louis (8:05 ET): The previous two Stanley Cup Champions meet on Opening Night with the Blues hosting the Capitals. Whereas Washington took a more "traditional" (i.e. dominant) path to winning their Cup in '18, it's still hard to wrap your head around what the Blues pulled off last season. As late as January 2nd, they were dead LAST in the league in points. From that point forward, they went 30-10-5 to finish the regular season and then of course went on to hoist the franchise's 1st ever Stanley Cup. Repeating in this league is quite hard to do (just ask the Caps), but we feel there's value on St. Louis in the early going this year, particularly Wednesday night's opener.
Obviously, there's going to be a lot of emotion in the building Wednesday night. Sometimes that can be a distraction. Other times, it can work to the defending champs (who always open the season w/ a home game) benefit. It was definitely the latter LY w/ the Caps, who obliterated Boston 7-0 on Opening Night. Not saying it'll be that one-sided for the Blues, but we do think they'll have the edge. They were 24-15-2 at home LY in the regular season, winning 20 of the last 29 games here at the Enterprise Center. We also happen to think they are one of the more undervalued defending champs in recent memory.
It is difficult to repeat as champs in this league as only three teams have pulled off the feat in the last 30 years. That and the path the Blues took to winning LY is what have them undervalued coming into the year. Keep in mind they largely bring back the same roster, plus Justin Faulk, who should be a boon to the power play. They also now get a full season of Jordan Binnington in goal. It was his emergence LY that keyed the turnaround. For Washington, Alex Ovechkin is listed as day to day. He's expected to play (returned to practice Tuesday), but it's worth noting he is battling a lower-body injury. The Capitals have lost the last six times they've been an underdog. 8* St. Louis
|06-12-19||Blues v. Bruins UNDER 5.5||Top||4-1||Win||100||46 h 50 m||Show|
10* Under Blues/Bruins (8:05 ET): St. Louis may very well end up rueing Game 6 forever as they blew a golden opportunity to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup. They the Bruins at home, but a third period onslaught resulted in a 5-1 victory for the visitors. Ultimately, that will mean nothing if the Blues are able to win Game 7. But Game 7 is in Boston, which means (theoretically) things will be tougher. Then again, the Blues are 9-3 on the road this postseason (as opposed to 6-7 SU at home!). The road team has won four of the six games in this series so far. The Bruins are just 7-5 SU at home in the playoffs, though they did win a Game 7 here (back in Rd 1 vs. Toronto).
I had this as a pretty even series coming in, thus I've almost exclusively been playing the total on a game by game basis. Oddsmakers have been "tipping their hand some" w/ the juice and obviously the number itself. Four of the six games have gone Over, but I say that's a bit misleading even as someone who had the Over in Game 6. That was a 1-0 game entering the third period before a wild barrage of scoring took place. There were four goals scored over an eight minute span, the final one coming on an empty net. That was the third time in the series an empty net goal sent the game Over. My condolences to anyone who had the Over in those spots (I did in Game 1).
Hopefully, we won't be in a situation here where either goalie has to be pulled late. Even so, I see Game 7 being a very low-scoring battle where the total won't be in question late. I see this one being shades of Game 5 here in Boston, which was a 2-1 final. Both goaltenders have been strong throughout the playoffs. Including the regular season, Jordan Binnington is 13-2 SU off a loss w/ a 1.83 GAA and .934 save percentage. When facing elimination this postseason, Tuukka Rask is 3-0 w/ a 1.33 GAA and .953 save percentage. Tension will be high here and I expect the opposite of a wide open game. 10* Under Blues/Bruins
|06-09-19||Bruins v. Blues OVER 5||Top||5-1||Win||100||52 h 44 m||Show|
10* Over Bruins/Blues (8:05 ET): St. Louis returns home w/ a chance to win their first ever Stanley Cup. Playing Game 6 on home ice bodes well as they've closed out each of their previous three series here at the Enterprise Center. But Boston won't go down easy and it's the O/U line that's caught my eye here. The oddsmakers moving the number to 5.0 is significant because four of the five previous games in the series have seen at least five total goals scored. We've cashed the Under twice (Games 2, 5) thanks to 5.5 goal totals. The only other time a game in the series opened w/ a 5.0 goal total was Game 3 and that went way Over (and we had the Over). Play the Over here.
That Game 3 happened to be the highest scoring game in the series (so far). The Over cashed midway in the second period and when it was all said and done, nine total goals were scored (7-2 Bruins' win). That was also the last time the Bruins won a game. They've since lost 4-2 and 2-1. They badly outshot the Blues (39-21) in Game 5, but it didn't matter. There was a controversial no-call in the third period and St. Louis scored right after to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Though they've closed out all three previous series here on home ice, the Blues are just 6-6 SU at the Enterprise Center this postseason. There have been seven playoff games that St. Louis has allowed four or more goals. Four of them have come at home. The Over is 8-3 in the L11 meetings here in St. Louis. Both goaltenders have seen their respective save percentages drop in this series. With every game in the series prior to the last one seeing at least five total goals scored, I see this one following suit. 10* Over Bruins/Blues
|06-06-19||Blues v. Bruins UNDER 5.5||Top||2-1||Win||100||54 h 60 m||Show|
10* Under Blues/Bruins (8:05 ET): I look to make it 4 in a row in the Stanley Cup Finals as this time it's back to the total after St. Louis came through for us so big in Game 4. Before that, it was the Under in Game 2 and the Over in Game 3, the latter being particularly easy as it cashed midway through the 2nd period and nine total goals were scored in the game. It's interesting that the only time the Under has cashed in the first four games came when four goals were scored in the first period. But then the only other goal scored was the game winner (by St. Louis) in overtime.
Perhaps though, that was a necessary receipt for the way the Over cashed in Games 1 & 4. Both times it was a goal scored on an empty net in the final two minutes. I'm looking to go Under here as I think we can hopefully avoid either goalie getting pulled late. Also, the 1st period barrage of scoring we've seen in each of the L3 games should hopefully subside. There have been at least three total goals scored in the first 20 minutes of each of those last three games. Considering how well the two goaltenders have performed in the playoffs, that shouldn't be happening.
The Blues definitely took advantage of Zdeno Chara's absence in Game 4, scoring twice in the third period. Chara reportedly broke his jaw and thus isn't likely to play here. Despite what happened to the Bruins w/o their captain on Monday, I think they're better suited to overcome any potential absence here. Tuukka Rask has faced a lot more shots than Jordan Binnington has in this series. While it might be hard to limit shots w/o Chara, Boston can do it. They are 12-6 Under this season off a loss by 2+ goals. 10* Under Blues/Bruins
|06-03-19||Bruins v. Blues -110||Top||2-4||Win||100||29 h 22 m||Show|
10* St. Louis (8:05 ET): The Blues were absolutely humiliated at home Saturday night, losing Game 3 by a score of 7-2. Rookie phenom Jordan Binnington got pulled (for the 1st time in his career)after allowing the first 5 goals and by that point (2nd period), the game was over. It was quite the embarrassing effort from St. Louis, which was hosting its first Stanley Cup Finals game in 49 years. But the good news is that it was just "one game." The Blues have generally been outstanding off a loss this postseason (5-1 SU) and I expect them to be in Game 4 as well.
I've yet to play either side in a game, thinking this series was pretty evenly matched. The better team won in both Games 1 & 2, IMO, as each time (Bruins in Gm 1 & Blues in Gm 2) the winning side enjoyed a rather decided edge in shots on goals. St. Louis even had a 2-0 lead in Game 1 before eventually wilting and getting outshot 38-20. Despite being dominated Saturday, they are in no way that bad nor that inferior compared to Boston. They even finished w/ a slight edge in shots on goal (29-24). This is a great value here on the Blues at home. Yes, they're just 5-6 SU at home in the playoffs, which is somewhat shocking, especially considering they ended the regular season on a 14-2 SU run at the Enterprise Center.
When off a SU loss this postseason, the Blues have not allowed more than two goals in any of the six games. So a bounce back effort from Binnington in particular, should be in order. Remember that he led the league in goals against average (1.87) in the regular season. After HC Craig Berube complaining about the officiating, I'd look for the Blues to spend less time in the penalty box here. The Bruins going 4 for 4 w/ the man advantage was absolutely huge in Game 3. That will not be happening again. The Blues are 7-3 SU the L10 times they've been off a loss by 3+ goals. That includes a win at San Jose in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, a very similar spot to this. 10* St. Louis
|06-01-19||Bruins v. Blues OVER 5||Top||7-2||Win||100||36 h 30 m||Show|
8* Over Bruins/Blues (8:05 ET): Surprise! After going w/ the Under in the first two games, it's time to play the Over in Game 3 as the Stanley Cup Finals move to the Gateway City. Much of this has to do w/ the number changing. The Over hitting in Game 1, then the Under hitting in Game 2 definitely came in non-conventional ways. Game 1 was pretty low-scoring early on (1-0 Blues after 1st period), but then things picked up a damn empty-net goal cost us the Under. Game 2 looked bleak early w/ the game knotted 2-2 after the 1st period. But then there was no more scoring until the GW goal in OT.
In each of the first two games, the winning side has enjoyed a rather drastic edge in shots on goal. It was 38-20 Bruins in Game 1, then 37-23 Blues in Game 2. Wednesday was Boston's 1st loss since April 30th (true!) as they'd been 8-0 this month. They've lost B2B games only once in the playoffs, that being Games 2-3 in Round 2 vs. Columbus. But after that is when the eight-game win streak came into play. There still have been only two games, both in the first round series vs. Toronto, that the Bruins surrendered more than three goals. But might Tuukka Rask's ridiculous playoff save percentage (.939) be set to regress?
St. Louis has scored multiple goals in all but two games this postseason, one of those coming way back in the first round. But they are dealing w/ a Boston side that scored three or more goals seven times during the eight-game win streak. Perhaps Jordan Binnington, a rookie, is prepared to hit a similar "wall" like Rask. The Over is 4-1 the L5 times the Blues have allowed two or fewer goals their previous game. 8* Over Bruins/Blues
|05-29-19||Blues v. Bruins UNDER 5.5||Top||3-2||Win||100||12 h 5 m||Show|
10* Under Blues/Bruins (8:05 ET): I'm still a bit upset from losing my *10* Total of the Year (Under) in Game 1. Not that I couldn't see it coming once St. Louis made the decision to pull the goalie. Still, that doesn't make the end result any less painful. I firmly believe Under was the right call for Game 1 and it sure was looking good early when it was a 1-0 game after the first period. But two quick goals at the start of the second changed the trajectory. But the Blues still only finished w/ 20 shots on goal and you have to think they have a bounce back game defensively here. I'm sticking w/ the Under for Game 2.
There have been five previous instances of St. Louis allowing 4+ goals in a game this postseason, all of them ending up as losses. But after all four times they've bounced back defensively. They haven't always won, mind you, losing games to both Winnipeg and Dallas in Rounds 1 and 2. But in those five games after surrendering four or more goals, the Blues have allowed just 10 total goals or an average of only 2.0 per game. That's what I am expecting here as Jordan Binnington made 35 saves in Game 1 to up his save percentage from the L4 games to a sick .956. The Blues are 4-1 Under this postseason when trailing in the series.
Boston is 4-1 Under when up in the series this postseason. Goalie Tuukka Rask has been great throughout the playoffs, posting a .940 save percentage, including .951 the L4 games. Going back to the second round, the Bruins have now allowed two goals or less in six straight games. They have not allowed more than three in any of the last 14 games and just twice the entire playoffs. 10* Under Blues/Bruins
|05-27-19||Blues v. Bruins UNDER 5.5||Top||2-4||Loss||-140||77 h 25 m||Show|
10* Under Blues/Bruins (8:05 ET): St. Louis made the Stanley Cup Finals each of its first three years of existence (1968, '69, '70) as the playoff format back then was quite weird. Ironically, they have not made it back since... until now. Further irony is the team that they are facing in 2019 is the same one that beat them back in 1970, Boston. You've almost certainly read about this elsewhere by now as it led to the iconic Bobby Orr photo when the Bruins won the Cup. Despite being the only team in the league to make the playoffs every season in the 1990s, the Blues are the oldest franchise never to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.
Unlike many of the series in this NHL postseason, I do not have a firm position on who will win here. But I sure do like the Under for Game 1 Monday night in Beantown. The Bruins will have been off for a very long time (10 days!) when the puck finally drops at the TD North Bank Garden. They swept Carolina in the Eastern Conference Finals, holding the Hurricanes to just five goals in the four games. Appropriately, it was a 4-0 shutout in the close out game. Overall, the Bruins have won seven in a row and during that time they have given up just nine goals. In all but one of the seven games, they allowed two goals or fewer.
Not to be outdone, St. Louis shut the door on San Jose in the Western Conference Finals, holding them to just two goals over the final three games. Their five days off between series would normally be substantial, but is quite modest compared to the amount of time Boston has had off. There was some rough defensive play early in the WCF, but the bottom line is the Blues have allowed two goals or fewer in seven of their last nine games. Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington has led the league in GAA (1.89) during the regular season. Boston's Tuukka Rask has a .942 save percentage in the playoffs. 10* Under Blues/Bruins
|05-21-19||Sharks v. Blues -156||Top||1-5||Win||100||12 h 50 m||Show|
10* St. Louis (8:05 ET): The Blues turned in a completely dominant performance in Game 5, battering and blanking the Sharks, 5-0. Having followed them throughout the playoffs, this is a little reminiscent of the last round where they picked up a huge road win in Dallas (won 4-1) before getting to close the series out at home in Game 7. St. Louis has closed out both previous series here on home ice, so while they may actually have a losing record here at the Enterprise Center in the postseason, they've won when it matters most. That trend continues tonight as I'll call for them to close out San Jose and move onto their 1st Stanley Cup Finals since 1970 (never won).
The Game 5 loss was quite costly to the Sharks. Not only are they now down 3-2 in the series, but they are likely w/o three key players as their season is on the line tonight. Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski both suffered in-game injuries, the latter's coming on a big hit in the third period. Hertl was not only 2nd on the team in goals scored this postseason, but 3rd overall in the league. Then you have defenseman Erik Karlsson, who aggravated a groin injury that limited him in the regular season. Neither he nor Hertl played in the third period Sunday. All three injured players may miss tonight's game. Game 5 was a completely one-sided affair w/ the Blues outshooting the Sharks 40-21.
Incredibly, the Blues were last in the league in points back on January 2nd. They are now one win away from their 1st SCF appearance in 49 years after making each of their first three years of existence (playoff rules were weird back then). While the Blues were the only team in the league to make the playoffs every year in the 1990's, they are also the oldest existing franchise never to win the Cup. So tonight's game definitely means a lot. I've written previously on how San Jose's scoring dips dramatically on the road. In the playoffs, they've scored just 18 goals in eight road games (been shut out twice). At home, they've scored 39 goals in 10 games. 10* St. Louis
|05-19-19||Blues v. Sharks OVER 5.5||Top||5-0||Loss||-102||5 h 43 m||Show|
10* Over Blues/Sharks (3:05 ET): I'm 2-1 in this series and quite frankly should be 3-0. Were it not for the Blues getting jobbed in overtime in Game 3, the record would be perfect. I came back w/ the Blues in Game 4 and they delivered a 2-1 win to tie the series up at 2-2. Of course, the easier winner was Game 1 where I had the Over and that was a winner midway through the second period as San Jose was able to take advantage of numerous defensive lapses by St. Louis and wound up winning 6-3. Game 4 is the only game in this series not to go Over so far.
The first three games of the series saw 9, 6 and 9 total goals scored. I can't say that I'm surprised that the first two games went Over as San Jose home games have a habit of doing that. They are 31-18-2 Over this season, including 13-3 the L16. A big key in that is that the Sharks' scoring goes up dramatically at home to 3.7 goals per game. That's something we've noted numerous times throughout the playoffs whether playing on them or the Over here at home.
Maybe Blues goalie Jordan Binnington has hit a rookie wall as his save percentage has dropped to .884 in this series. San Jose's Martin Jones is right around that number as well at .882. Jones had a sub-.900 save percentage in the regular season anyway. San Jose is going to be tough to stop here at home, but I also feel St. Louis is going to score a few goals as well. The Over is 4-0-1 the Blues' last five games as an underdog. 10* Over Blues/Sharks
|05-17-19||Sharks v. Blues -136||Top||1-2||Win||100||12 h 38 m||Show|
9* St. Louis (8:05 ET): The curious case of the Blues losing at home in the postseason continued on Wednesday in the most excruciating way possible as they lost in overtime to the Sharks, 5-4. It was bad enough that the Blues gave up the game-tying goal w/ just over a minute left in regulation. But then in OT they were hosed by the officials, who missed a hand pass that set up the winning goals for San Jose. Now St. Louis did trail early, 3-1, before storming back to score three straight goals. But I don't see them falling into any kind of similar hole for Game 4. In fact, I think it will be quite the opposite as they come out as the hungrier and more motivated team.
The Blues are now just 3-5 SU on home ice in these playoffs, which I find it hard to wrap my head around. They ended the regular season on a 14-2 SU run here at the Enterprise Center. But I just can't see them losing again here, not w/ their season basically "hanging in the balance." Were they to fall down 3-1 in the series, which heads back to San Jose for Game 5, that would be big-time trouble. I talked about this in my Game 3 analysis, but the Sharks are not nearly as potent offensively on the road compared to at home (where they average 3.7 gpg for the year). Going into Game 3, San Jose was just 2-4 SU in playoff road games and had been outscored 21-12.
So I was definitely surprised to see them strike early and often Wednesday night w/ three goals less than two minutes into the second period. In two of their four playoff losses on the road, the Sharks had been shutout. It was just the second time scoring more than three goals. Note that the first was Game 3 of the Colorado series and then they were shutout in the next game. Blues' goaltender Jordan Binnington led the league in GAA (1.89) in the regular season and bounces back here. 9* St. Louis
|05-15-19||Sharks v. Blues -131||Top||5-4||Loss||-131||11 h 14 m||Show|
|05-14-19||Bruins v. Hurricanes -105||Top||2-1||Loss||-105||27 h 0 m||Show|
10* Carolina (8:05 ET): The Hurricanes find themselves down in an 0-2 hole in the Eastern Conference Finals, but it's not as if they haven't been here before. Back in Round 1, they dropped Games 1 and 2 at Washington before storming to take back that series in seven games. They came into the ECF having won 8 of 9 overall. They allowed just five total goals in sweeping the Islanders in the last round, so the fact they have allowed *11* in two games to the Bruins is definitely downright shocking. Throughout the playoffs, I've leaned on Carolina's Corsi For % (best in the league during the regular season) and I won't deviate from that script here. Take them in Gm 3.
I though the final score of Game 1 (5-2 Bruins) was pretty misleading. Carolina led going into the third period, but Boston scored four times in the final 20 minutes to take the 1-0 series lead. Two of those four goals came on the power play, just 28 seconds apart, and another was on an empty net. Game 2 was far more decisive w/ the Bruins scoring the game's first six goals (two per period) before the 'Canes struck for two late meaningless ones. The good news though is that Carolina is now back home where they have yet to taste defeat in these playoffs (5-0). They're also favored on the moneyline, another good sign here considering they are 23-5 the L28 times they've taken the ice as a ML fave.
Carolina had only 23 shots on goal in Game 2, which is a very low number for them. They led the league in the regular season w/ an average of 34.4 shots per game. In Game 1, they actually outshot Boston. To go back to Corsi For %, it is a measure of how much time a team possesses the puck relative to its opponents. The Hurricanes also led the league in this department during the regular season. Because of that, I very much bought into this club as a "darkhorse" coming into the playoffs. Again, I'm not about to "abandon ship" now. 10* Carolina
|05-12-19||Hurricanes +1.5 v. Bruins||Top||2-6||Loss||-201||28 h 16 m||Show|
6* Puck Line Carolina (3:05 ET): Please note that this is a puck line play only where I am taking the Hurricanes +1.5. Carolina is a team that has been kind to me in the past in these playoffs and if there's one key indicator of their "surprising" success, it would be Corsi For %, a metric that takes into account how much time a team is possessing the puck compared to its opponent. The Hurricanes were #1 in the league in this department during the regular season. Game 1 got away from them late here in Boston. I say they'll do no worse than a one-goal loss here.
Game 1 was a 5-2 loss for the 'Canes, but note they actually led going into the third period, 2-1. The Bruins struck for four goals in the third period, a shocking output considering they allowed all of five goals total in the Islanders series (a 4-game sweep). The loss also snapped a 6-game win streak for Carolina, a streak which had seen them give up only nine goals total. After falling down 0-2 in the 1st round series to Washington, Carolina has won 8 of 10 and only once allowed more than three goals in a game before Game 1 of this series. They have gone a perfect 4-0 after the L4 times they allowed 5+ goals in a game.
Boston has now won four straight and seven of its last nine games. Note that Game 1 turned w/ the Bruins scoring on back to back power plays, just 28 seconds apart. Note the Bruins' 4th goal came on an empty net. Petr Mrazek was back in goal for Carolina and made 23 saves and I don't think showed any ill-effects from the injury suffered in Game 2 against the Islanders. The Hurricanes outshot the Bruins in Game 1, nothing new for them as they led the league in shot per game differential in the regular season. Take the +1.5. 6* Puck Line Carolina (+1.5)
|05-11-19||Blues v. Sharks OVER 5.5||Top||3-6||Win||112||30 h 47 m||Show|
10* Over Blues/Sharks (8:05 ET): Home ice advantage figures to be vital in this year's Western Conference Finals between St. Louis and San Jose. After all, the home team has won the last five times these teams have played. Both teams also just won Game 7's at their respective rinks. I won with both in those winner take all spots, but now it's a new series where we are starting from scratch. Something I've stressed in previous analysis - as it pertains to the Sharks' home ice advantage - is how their goals per game average rises pretty dramatically when at home. Because of that, I'm on the Over in Game 1.
For the record, San Jose averages 3.7 goals per game at home. The Over is 29-18-2 in all Sharks' home games and overall they were one of the top Over teams during the regular season. So even though the stakes are now as high as they've been all year - and St. Louis can be an excellent defensive team - an Game 1 going Over would be far from "out of the ordinary." Now, all three regular season meetings w/ the Blues did stay Under. The teams exchanged 4-0 shutouts, each winning on home ice, and then San Jose won the rubber match - in overtime - 3-2 on March 9th. But those first two games showed both teams are more than capable of scoring on the other.
You'd actually have to go all the way back to the last time these teams met in the playoffs - May of '16 - to find the last matchup that produced an Over. Since then, it's been six Unders and three pushes in nine overall meetings. That said, the Over remains 10-2 in the Sharks' last 12 home games and those two Unders came in the last two games in the last series w/ Colorado. The Over is 3-1-1 in the Blues' last five road games. 10* Over Blues/Sharks
|05-09-19||Hurricanes v. Bruins UNDER 5.5||Top||2-5||Loss||-135||13 h 46 m||Show|
10* Under Hurricanes/Bruins (8:05 ET): Given the importance I place on Corsi For %, it's no shock to me that Carolina has made the Conference Finals as they rank #1 in that key metric, which is a measure of puck possession. The 'Canes had a huge advantage in Corsi For % over their last opponent, the Islanders, so (again) it wasn't all that surprising to see them sweep that second round series. Since falling down 0-2 in Rd 1 to Washington, the Hurricanes have won 8 of 9 overall (including 6 straight). But the Bruins should prove to be their toughest opponent yet and I'm not yet willing to back Carolina on the road.
Boston went the full seven games in Round 1 in order to oust Toronto. They needed only six to eliminate Columbus in Round 2. The Bruins are 6th in Corsi For %. They come into the Conference Finals on a three-game win streak. It was a 3-0 shutout in the series clincher (Monday) as they've done an outstanding job this postseason at stopping their opponents from scoring. Since losing 4-1 in Game 1 of the Toronto series, the Bruins have given up more than three goals only one time in the last 12 games. Goaltender Tuukka Rask has been playing out of his mind w/ a .955 even strength save percentage the L4 games.
That's really not new for Rask and Boston as they were tied for 3rd in the regular season in fewest goals allowed. As for Carolina, they allowed just five goals - total - in the entire series w/ the Islanders. Something to monitor here is the only "rest vs. rust" debate as the Hurricanes have not played in almost a week. My view is that time off is more likely to adversely effect their play at the offensive end. There's some debate as to whom will start between the pipes here, but both Petr Mrazek and Curtis McElhinney have proven to be fine goaltenders. Both teams are top six in the league in fewest shots allowed. 10* Under Hurricanes/Bruins
|05-08-19||Avalanche v. Sharks -134||Top||2-3||Win||100||13 h 40 m||Show|
10* San Jose (9:05 ET): It wasn't until Game 5 of this series that I made a play on either side (did win w/ the Under in Game 4). I took San Jose, here at home, and they came through for me then as last week's top moneyline selection in NHL. I then called for them to close out the series in Game 6 Monday, but that proved to be a mistake as they lost in overtime, thus keeping alive the pattern that has seen the team alternate wins throughout the first six games. San Jose won a Game 7 in the first round, beating Vegas, and my view that the Sharks are the better team here hasn't changed.
That previous Game 7 victory (over Vegas) was here at home and in my analysis for Game 5, I spoke of how important home ice advantage has been to the Sharks this season. The most obvious benefit has come in scoring as they average 3.7 goals per game at home. Now it was a low-scoring Game 5 (won 2-1), but the bottom line is that in seven home games this postseason, the Sharks have tallied 28 goals. Compare that to the six road games where they have managed only 12 goals (and been shutout twice). For the year, San Jose is 30-13-5 SU at home. Colorado has a losing road record (20-27 overall).
Just like I have throughout the playoffs, I'll continue to cite Corsi For % as a key metric. It's a measure of how often a team controls the puck and in this regard, the Sharks are a far superior team to the Avs. They rank 3rd in the league in that metric while Colorado is only 17th, the only team remaining in the playoffs outside the top 10. The Avs are pretty fortunate to be 3-0 in overtime games this postseason. But I don't see them getting the job done here as they are averaging just 27 shots per game in the series. 10* San Jose
|05-07-19||Stars v. Blues -135||Top||1-2||Win||100||33 h 41 m||Show|
10* St. Louis (8:05 ET): The Blues were the hottest team in the league during the second half of the season. It was a remarkable turnaround for a team that actually had the fewest number of points (in the entire league!) on January 2nd. But, spurred on by a coaching change and a rookie goaltender, they've gone 31-15 SU the L46 games. The rookie goaltender (Jordan Binnington) led the league in goals against average (1.89) during the regular season. One thing that has surprised me though in these playoffs is that St. Louis has lost four times on home ice. But they closed out the Winnipeg series here at the Enterprise Center and now have a chance to do the same against Dallas here in Game 7 of Round 2. History will repeat itself here. Take the Blues.
While they have lost four times here at home in the playoffs, the Blues have been proverbial road warriors, going 5-1 SU away from home. That includes a Game 6 victory in Dallas that kept them alive. They didn't just win Sunday afternoon either, they dominated. It was 4-1 final. What makes the home ice thing perplexing is that the Blues were a very good home team in the regular season, winning 14 of their last 16 times here heading into the playoffs. Dallas has managed to win 4 of 6 games on the road this postseason, including the last two here in the Gateway City, but they had a losing road record in the regular season and were outscored in the process.
I continue to cite Corsi For % as a key metric this time of year. For those unaware, it is a measure of how long a team possesses the puck compared to its opponent. The Blues rank 9th in Corsi For % while the Stars are just 24th, which is the lowest among all remaining playoff teams. Then there is the matter of scoring. Dallas was only 28th in the league in goals per game during the regular season and only averaged 2.24 goals per game on the road, one of only three teams below 2.4 gpg. The Blues are 6-1 SU after scoring 2 goals or less their previous game. 10* St. Louis
|05-06-19||Sharks +105 v. Avalanche||Top||3-4||Loss||-100||14 h 24 m||Show|
10* San Jose (10:05 ET): I'm calling for the Sharks to end this series and move on to the Western Conference Finals where they'll await the winner of tomorrow night's Game 7 between Dallas and St. Louis. The Sharks delivered for me in Game 5 at home, beating the Avs 2-1 in a come from behind effort. They are now 6-2 SU vs. Colorado this season. Neither team has been able to win consecutive games in this series yet, but that changes here as the better team asserts itself. Though they did give up the game's first goal on Saturday, San Jose really dominated, outshooting the Avalanche 39-22.
In my Game 5 analysis, I cited home ice advantage as a key reason to play San Jose. Game 6 is in Denver, but Corsi For % is a metric I like to focus on and in this key area, San Jose still has the advantage over Colorado. Corsi for % is a measure of how much time a team possesses the puck compared to its opponent and San Jose comes in ranked 3rd in the league. If you are skeptical of the metric, be aware that it foretold Columbus' history-making upset over Tampa Bay in Round 1 and Carolina ranks #1 in the league and we see how well they are doing right now. For the record, Colorado is just 17th in Corsi For %, which is third worst among the eight conference semifinalists.
San Jose lost all 20 games it failed to score more than two goals in the regular season. But the good news for them is that here in the playoffs, they've already won two such games. They've done a good job defensively in the series, holding Colorado to an average of 2.4 goals and 27.4 shots per game. They've outshot them in four straight games. The really good news is that the Sharks have won four straight times after being held to two games or less the previous game. The Avs have actually lost five of the last seven times they've been a ML home favorite of -150 or less. 10* San Jose
|05-05-19||Blues +111 v. Stars||Top||4-1||Win||111||6 h 29 m||Show|
10* St. Louis (3:05 ET): I had the Blues as the better team coming into the series, but after losing Game 5 at home, they are facing elimination on Sunday, down 3 games to 2. Making the challenge even more difficult is the fact they now have to win Game 6 in Dallas. But winning on the road has not been a problem for the Blues this postseason as the took all three games in Winnipeg back in Round 1, then split w/ the Stars here in Games 3 and 4. I haven't given up faith yet and will take the Blues to stay alive.
I'll continue to cite Corsi For % as the basis for me thinking St. Louis is the better team here. In this key metric, the Blues rank 9th in the league, which is vastly superior to Dallas, who are just 24th. For those unfamiliar, Corsi For % is a measure of how often a team possesses the puck compared to its opponent. The Stars were also just 28th in the league in scoring during the regular season, so I'm surprised to see that they have scored 15 times in the five games vs. St. Louis. They were the lowest scoring team among all playoff entrants. Yes, the Stars were 2nd in the regular season in goals allowed, but the Blues weren't far behind at 5th.
Over the second half of the season, St. Louis was arguably the hottest team in the league. So I don't think they're ready to bow out just yet. Even after losing Games 4 & 5, they are still 30-15 SU in their last 45 games. Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington led the league in goals against average (1.89) during the regular season and was arguably the key reason the team was able to go from having the fewest # of points in the league on January 2nd to making the playoffs. The Blues are 6-1 the L7 times they've been priced as the underdog, so I'll take them again here. 10* St. Louis
|05-04-19||Avalanche v. Sharks -128||Top||1-2||Win||100||25 h 8 m||Show|
10* San Jose (10:05 ET): Similar to the St. Louis-Dallas series, I view one of the teams (San Jose) as vastly superior in this series. But after mainly concentrating on the Under here (cashed it in Game 4), I'm finally ready to play on the Sharks. The series is now tied at two games apiece after the Avs won Game 4 by a score of 3-0. But if the regular season and playoffs have taught us anything, it's that we should expect more scoring from the Sharks here in San Jose. They average 3.7 goals per game on home ice and given they are still 5-2 this season vs. the Avs, I like them in this spot quite a bit.
Corsi For % is a metric I like to focus on and in this key area, San Jose has the advantage over Colorado. Corsi for % is a measure of how much time a team possesses the puck compared to its opponent and San Jose comes in ranked 3rd in the league. If you are skeptical of the metric, be aware that it foretold Columbus' history-making upset over Tampa Bay in Round 1 and Carolina ranks #1 in the league and we see how well they are doing right now. For the record, Colorado is just 17th in Corsi For %, which is third worst among the eight conference semifinalists.
Home ice advantage is also crucial here w/ the Sharks getting two of the next three (if necessary) games here in San Jose. While the Sharks are a strong home team, Colorado has a losing road record. Another key trend is that San Jose is 38-18 SU following a loss by 3+ goals. While they have scored just nine goals in five road games so far in the playoffs (shut out twice), the Sharks have scored 26 goals in the six home games. In goal, I feel Martin Jones has outplayed Philip Grubauer in this series. That's backed up by the former having a slightly higher save percentage. Sharks win this critical Game 5. 10* San Jose
|05-03-19||Stars v. Blues -140||Top||2-1||Loss||-140||13 h 43 m||Show|
10* St. Louis (9:35 ET): I came into this series believing that St. Louis was the better team. I had them in Game 3 - a wild 4-3 win at Dallas - that had them take a 2-1 series lead. But now things are tied up a two games apiece after Game 4, which was won by the Stars 4-2 on Wednesday. It may sound a little bit odd to think the Blues are definitely the better team here. After all, they have a losing record (3-5 SU) vs. Dallas this season. But I'll continue to cite their Corsi For %, which is vastly superior to Dallas. The Blues rank 9th in that key metric while the Stars are just 24th.
St. Louis entered the playoffs as arguably the hottest team in the Western Conference. Even after losing Game 4, they are still 30-14 SU in their last 44 games. Rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington led the league in goals against average (1.89) during the regular season and was arguably the key reason the team was able to go from having the fewest # of points in the league on January 2nd to making the playoffs. Binnington hasn't exactly been at his best the L3 games, but the Blues have still won 75% of the time (30-10) when he's between the pipes, including a 16-5 SU mark at home.
Dallas ranked just 28th in the league in goals per game during the regular season, so I'm definitely surprised that they've been able to find the back of the net 11 times in the last three games. They were the lowest scoring team entering the playoffs. While #2 in goals allowed, the Blues weren't far behind at #5. The Stars are just 19-39 SU their L58 games as a ML road underdog of +150 or less. I think this is a good price to fade them in what shapes up as the key game of this series. The Blues have won four straight times after scoring two goals or less in their previous game. Seeing as I think they're the better team, I almost have to take them here. 10* St. Louis
|05-02-19||Sharks v. Avalanche UNDER 6||Top||0-3||Win||100||28 h 29 m||Show|
10* Under Avalanche/Sharks (10:05 ET): Each of the last two games in this series, I've felt "ripped off" on an Under play. Game 2 was ridiculous. Four goals were scored in the final 10 minutes, the last two coming in the final 62 seconds of regulation. Then in Game 3, the "knife" was again stuck in late w/ San Jose tacking on an "insurance" goal w/ just 30 seconds left to make it a 4-2 win. Again, three goals were scored in the final 10 minutes of regulation. The Over has now hit in all six meetings between the teams this season. Enough is enough already. I'm playing the Under again.
In what has turned into a wide open Stanley Cup Playoffs (all 4 division champs from reg season eliminated in 1st round), the Sharks are now the betting favorite to hoist the Cup according to the oddsmakers. They're not an overwhelming favorite by any means, but being up 2-1 in this series definitely helps. They are now 5-1 vs. Colorado this season. While it may feel like "beating my head against the wall" when it comes to playing the Under here, it should be noted that the Under is 4-1-1 in their last six road games. In three games in Vegas in Round 1, they were held to only five goals total. They don't score nearly as many goals per game on the road as they do at home.
The Avs have been held to just two goals in each loss so far in the series. Despite what happened in Game 3, the Under is still 4-1-1 the L6 times they have been favored to win on home ice. In Game 2, they certainly showed they are capable of slowing the Sharks down as they held them to just 1 goal for almost 55 minutes. In Game 3, they held them to two goals for nearly 52 minutes. Remember that in the Game 7 vs. Vegas, the Sharks were able to take advantage of a controversial power play (5 min major) by scoring four times. In baseball, we'd call this cluster luck. Whatever you want to call it, I feel that this game stays Under. 10* Under Avalanche/Sharks
|04-30-19||Sharks v. Avalanche UNDER 6||Top||4-2||Push||0||14 h 59 m||Show|
10* Under Avalanche/Sharks (10:05 ET): Sunday night, I appeared all set to finish off a perfect 8-0 weekend w/ the Under on Game 2 of Avs-Sharks. It was a 2-1 game w/ less than 10 minutes left in regulation and the total (for most) was 6.0. (I'd personally bet it at 6.5). Imagine my surprise then when I clicked over after watching "Game of Thrones" and saw the final score was 4-3! That's a really bad break, especially considering each team scored in the final minute and the final goal came w/ just 11 seconds left. I'll stick w/ the Under for Game 3 as it should more closely resemble what we saw for the first 2 1/2 periods on Sunday.
The Over is now 5-0 in head to head meetings between these teams this season. There has been at least seven goals scored in every game. But there's a "first time for everything," just like there was for the Avs finally beating the Sharks on Sunday. Prior to that, they were 0-4 vs. San Jose this season. So now it's the Under's "turn" to deliver as we should see the game "tighten up" as the stakes get higher. The next two games are in Colorado where the Avalanche allowed just two goals in each game in the first round series vs. Calgary. Overall, San Jose has been one of the top Over teams in the league this year (53-35-3 all games), but they don't score as much on the road.
In the three first round games at Vegas, the Sharks scored all of five goals and were shut out once. Prior to Game 2, they had scored exactly five goals in three straight home games. I think the offense is about to start to subside. The same holds true for Colorado. Going back to last season, the Over is 8-1 the L9 head to head meetings, but look for this one to be different as we've already seen the matchup being capable of producing a low-scoring game (just look at those first 2 1/2 periods in Game 2). 10* Under Avalanche/Sharks
|04-29-19||Blues +102 v. Stars||Top||4-3||Win||102||25 h 51 m||Show|
10* St. Louis (8:05 ET): After sitting out the first two games, I'll finally make the jump into this series. (I've played at least one game of each of the other three second round series). Spoiler alert: I like the Blues in this series, but wanted to sit back and wait for the best spot to grab them. That time appears to be now. While Game 3 is in Dallas and the Stars are 4-1 this year vs. the Blues, St. Louis still grades out as the better team in my eyes, especially in the key metric of Corsi For % where they rank a strong 9th overall. Dallas is only 24th, second worst among playoff teams (Islanders).
St. Louis certainly had no issue winning on the road in Round 1. They went 3-0 at Winnipeg, which is a tough place to play. The Jets were 25-12-4 SU at home in the regular season. Of course, the Blues have done plenty of winning over the last several months as they entered the playoffs as arguably the hottest team in the Western Conference. Even after losing Game 2, they are still 29-13 SU in their last 42 games.
Whereas Dallas ranked 2nd in the league in goals allowed during the regular season, St. Louis wasn't far behind, tied for 5th. In the playoffs, the Blues have given up 22 goals in eight games. The Stars have given up just 17 in the same number of games. But despite this, I think it's still worth mentioning that Dallas was only 28th in goals per game in the regular season. So after allowing four goals in Game 2, expect Blues goalie Jordan Bennington to have a bounce back game here. He led the league in goals against average (GAA) at 1.89 and remember that him taking over between the pipes was a real catalyst for the total team turnaround. The Blues have won five straight as underdogs. 10* St. Louis
|04-28-19||Avalanche v. Sharks UNDER 6||Top||4-3||Loss||-100||31 h 3 m||Show|
10* Under Avs/Sharks (7:05 ET): Game 1 of this series saw San Jose storm back from an early 2-1 deficit to win 5-2. The game clearly swung in the second period when the Sharks scored three straight times after killing off a four-minute penalty. They added an empty-netter for the final margin and the Over. There were not a ton of shots on goal in Game 1, so while seven of the previous eight meetings between these teams have gone Over the total (including five straight), I think we're in for a lower scoring Game 2. Take the Under here.
San Jose has beaten Colorado all four times they've played this season. In all four wins, the Sharks have scored at least four goals, three times scoring five. That's not a recipe for success if you're the Avalanche, so they'll definitely have to "tighten up" if they want to take this series. Do I think the Avs are going to win this series? Not really, but I wouldn't want to fade them in this spot, especially at the "going rate." Remember, after losing Game 1 to Calgary in Round 1, the Avs would take four straight and hold the Flames to just seven total goals. The Flames were one of the highest scoring teams in the league.
San Jose averages 3.7 goals per game on home, so they will be difficult to stop. But Calgary averaged more than 4.0 gpg on home ice, so the Avs have "been here before." As for their own scoring here, I'm not expecting them to have two goals on the board by early in the second period again. The Under is 5-1 the L6 times the Avs have been off a loss by 3+ goals, including Game 2 of the Calgary series. Since falling down 3-1 in their first round series w/ Vegas, the Sharks have been on fire. But remember that if it wasn't for that gift penalty in Game 7, they probably wouldn't be here at all. Look for them to start to cool down offensively. 10* Under Avs/Sharks
|04-26-19||Hurricanes +125 v. Islanders||Top||1-0||Win||125||12 h 36 m||Show|
10* Carolina (7:08 ET): I'm going to be putting "my foot down" (so to speak) in this series as I firmly believe Carolina is the better team here. Yes, they come in off a grueling 7-game series w/ Washington while the Islanders had a shockingly easy go of it in the 1st round, sweeping Pittsburgh. But that same "situational disadvantage" had little impact on the Bruins last night, though they were skating at home. Still, I lean on the fact the Hurricanes lead the league in Corsi For %, while the Isles rank a poor 27th in that key metric. Just like they did vs. the Capitals, I expect Carolina to control the puck in this series. I'm calling for a Game 1 "upset."
The Islanders' transformation under HC Barry Trotz (who led Washington to the Stanley Cup LY) has been stunning. Last year's team gave up the most goals in league history over an 82-game season. This year's team allowed the fewest number of goals in the entire league! Goalie Robin Lehner held the Penguins to just six goals in four games. But I expect puck possession to play a vital role in this series. The bottom line is that no team is better in that department than Carolina. Lehner is going to face more shots than usual in this series. Carolina led the league in both shots per game and shot differential in the regular season.
While there is some concern about the Hurricanes being only 48 hrs removed from a Game 7 (on the road) that required double overtime, the old issue of "rust" may very well apply here to the Islanders. They haven't played in 10 days. The Isles are just 2-5 SU this season when taking the ice on 3+ days rest. Despite more than doubling up Pittsburgh in goals scored in Round 1, the Islanders were outshot in the series. That catches up with them in Round 2 in what is a bad matchup (for them). Carolina has now won 34 of its last 51 games. 10* Carolina
|04-25-19||Blue Jackets v. Bruins UNDER 5.5||Top||2-3||Win||100||11 h 10 m||Show|
10* Under Blue Jackets/Bruins (7:05 ET): Columbus shocked the world in Round 1 by sweeping the 62-win Lightning. It wasn't just that the Blue Jackets advanced though; it was how. A 4-game sweep of a team that had outscored them 17-3 in the regular season and set various records in the process. Meanwhile, the Bruins had a much more challenging path to the second round as they were taken a full seven games by the Maple Leafs. But the bottom line is that Boston is one of only two higher seeds that won its first round series (San Jose being the other).
These teams went almost a full calendary year w/o facing one another. But then they faced off three times in the final month of the regular season w/ the Bruins winning twice, including an overtime game in Columbus. The two games decided in regulation were both blowouts w/ the winning side scoring at least six goals. Nine of the last 10 meetings have gone Over the total, which is a bit of a surprise considering neither team is generally regarded as an "Over squad." In fact, both teams have seen far more Unders than Overs this season.
Boston scored 4+ goals in all four victories in the 1st round series w/ Toronto. But in the three losses, they were held to two goals or fewer (just 4 goals total). This is a tough spot for the B's w/ them coming off a 7-game series while C-bus is off a 4-game sweep. Perhaps it's a question of "rest vs. rust," but the bottom line is that I do NOT see Boston winning a high-scoring game tonight. Fortunately, they were #3 in the league in goals allowed during the regular season. The Blue Jackets somehow held the Lightning (top scoring team in the L20 years!) to just eight goals in four games. The Under is 4-0 for Boston the L4 times they've faced an opponent that scored 5+ goals in its last game. In the close out game vs. TB, the Blue Jackets won 7-3. 10* Under Blue Jackets/Bruins
|04-24-19||Hurricanes +145 v. Capitals||Top||4-3||Win||145||12 h 3 m||Show|
9* Carolina (7:35 ET): While there's been a very real home ice advantage so far in this series (home team is 6-0), I'm going to call for the road team to prevail here. Even though the teams have scored the same number of goals, my view is that Carolina has played better. They've outshot Washington 192-153, which is pretty substantial over a six-game sample size.
I'm also going to again lean on the fact that the Canes are #1 in the league in Corsi For %, a key metric that actually foretold the Blue Jackets stunning 1st round upset of the Lightning. Carolina's defense has certainly frustrated the Capitals throughout the series and the 'Canes ability to get the puck on net has been a strength all season long. They were #1 in shots per game in the regular season as well as shot differential.
An "X-factor" here is Carolina captain Justin Williams, who has an incredible history in Game 7's. He has 14 career points in Game 7's, an NHL record, with seven goals and seven assists. None of that has come w/ Carolina, but he brings not just Game 7 experience, but success, to the table. Washington goaltender Braden Holtby has a 3-4 SU career record in Game 7s. It would be easy to look at the home team being 6-0 in this series and go w/ the Caps, but my feeling is Carolina has been the better team and they steal Game 7. No repeat in the Nation's capital. 9* Carolina
|04-22-19||Predators +113 v. Stars||Top||1-2||Loss||-100||13 h 18 m||Show|
10* Nashville (8:35 ET): It's not just shocking that the Predators dropped Game 5, it's how. For the second game in a row, they allowed five goals. This was the #3 team in goals allowed during the regular season. Game 5 saw them allow five goals on just 26 shots, the second straight shaky performance from goalie Pekka Rinne. The Preds are now in danger of being the third division champ to get bounced from these playoffs and fifth higher seed to lose. I don't see that happening though, at least not yet. I like the Preds at 'plus money' in Game 6.
I admit that I took Nashville in Game 5. I believe them to be the better team here as they rank significantly higher than Dallas in Corsi For %. Simply put, they do a better job at possessing the puck. They've outshot the Stars in all but one game in the series. But the last two games have not gone well w/ them losing 5-1 and 5-3. In the case of Game 4, that could be chalked up to a Dallas' power play scoring three times in the first period. But there were no PP goals allowed in Game 5, yet the Stars were still able to put together a three goal period.
Why will it be different this time around for Nashville? Well, for starters, Dallas was just 9-26 SU after scoring 5+ goals prior to the previous game. Remember that during the regular season the Stars ranked just 28th in the league in goals per game, easily the lowest among all 16 playoff teams. Thus it's been pretty shocking to see them score 10 times in the L2 games, especially against a team like Nashville. My read is that the Predators are the better team in this series. They still have time to prove that. 10* Nashville
|04-21-19||Sharks v. Golden Knights UNDER 6.5||Top||2-1||Win||100||20 h 43 m||Show|
10* Under Sharks/Knights (7:05 ET): Four 1st round playoff series are now complete and in all four the lower seeded team has advanced. That's pretty crazy. The most notable upsets have obviously been the top seed in each conference bowing out, including the shocking sweep of Tampa Bay by Columbus. Vegas looks to keep the trend of lower-seeded teams advancing Sunday night in Sin City. While the Golden Knights didn't have the home ice advantage coming into the series, they were able to take Game 2 in San Jose. Then came a pair of wins here at home where of course they have been magical since coming into existence.
The Golden Knights have already failed in their first shot in closing out the series as they lost Game 5 in San Jose by a score of 5-2. Facing elimination, the Sharks got off to a fast start, scoring just 76 seconds into the game. They never trailed and spent most of the game enjoying a multi-goal advantage. However, here at T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights have to like their chances. They are 62-25-7 SU the L2 years at home, including 9-3 in playoff games. They won Game 3 by a score of 6-3 and Game 4 by a score of 5-0.
The winning team of every game in this series has scored a minimum of five goals. The only game to stay Under thus far was the Game 4 shutout here in Vegas. I expect the Knights not to give up many again tonight as they were third best in the league in the regular season when it came to # of goals allowed at home. The Under is 6-1 the last 7 games in Vegas. 10* Under Sharks/Knights