Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
Blue Jackets @ Bruins
The second round begins with a team who just played on Tuesday in Boston against a team in Columbus who has been off for over a week. These are the toughest games to look at because the two teams are literally coming in hot and cold. How do the two teams match up under this scenario?
There are simple keys to this game. First, it comes down to Columbus versus the Boston top line. Yes, that top line which torched Columbus not just last season but this season as well. Brad Marchand alone has four goals and seven points against the Blue Jackets in three meetings. Now, Columbus was able to slow down Tampa Bay, but Boston may not succumb quite so easily. This is a vital matchup that Columbus can not lose too decisively.
Then, the goalies take center stage. Sergei Bobrovsky played quite well after the first 30 minutes of Game 1. Tuukka Rask had his ups and downs but came though with a huge Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs (30+ saves, 1 GA). Again, remember the rest factor involved as Boston will come out fast. The theory is they should. Expect Bobrovsky to face a lot of shots early on.
A big concern for Columbus is will they be able to sustain their power play success from the first round. They scored five times in all and considering they were bottom three in the league most of the year, that feels like an outlier. However, maybe it comes to fruition again. Boston’s penalty kill was solid against Toronto (13 for 16 overall). It will need to be as good or better against Columbus who showed Tampa a thing or two on power play movement.
The first game expects to be a bit scrambled. That may lead to more goals as both teams feel each other out defensively and not offensively.
1u – BOS Bruins MoneyLine @ -162
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ -117
Stars @ Blues
Both St. Louis and Dallas eliminated the higher seeds in six tough, hard fought contests. Now, what does each team have left in the tank. St. Louis was one of the best teams at containing shots and chances over the second half. Dallas, with Ben Bishop in net, can stay in any game no matter the pace. This shapes up to be quite the series.
Unlike the Boston series, these two teams come in with just about the same amount of rest. The problem with trying to look at these teams objectively is that when they play each other this round, it could resemble paint drying (especially their second half versions). Every so often, the game breaks out with some offense but mostly, it bogs down. Could the under be something to look at a good bit early in this series? That is plausible.
How does St. Louis slow down the top line for Dallas? They will try and use Ryan O’Reilly whenever possible and hope for a better result than during the season. The Dallas top line combined for 14 points and nine goals in their four meetings. They enjoyed some outrageous small sample size numbers no question. However, St. Louis has stopped them to a halt before (see the season before).
Game 1 of this series has been the toughest to get an idea of how it may go. Quite a few underlying numbers point to St. Louis, but the Blues were anything but consistent at home against Winnipeg. Yes, they closed out the Jets but even that turned into a tight affair late. Expect much of the same for Game 1 between Dallas and St. Louis – close and back and forth.
1u – Under 5.5 total goals @ -125
1u – STL Blues Moneyline @ -153