Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
Hurricanes @ Islanders
The New York Islanders finally get their second round underway after what feels like a ten-day vacation. The reality is it was. These two teams are here courtesy of upsets. Carolina dispatched the defending champion Washington Capitals in seven games while the Islanders swept the Pittsburgh Penguins away in four games.
How the teams won their series were different. New York used stifling team defense, goaltending, and timely goal scoring. Carolina won by playing back and forth with Washington – trading home wins until Game 7 when Carolina asserted its dominance in the third period and overtime. Then, they were rewarded in double overtime.
Game 1 features a true study in contrasts. Will Andrei Svechnikov and Micheal Ferland play? Those are two big question marks to keep an eye on. New York is mostly healthy. Throw the regular season records out the window as their last meeting was January 8th.
A big concern for New York will be how they come out after being so rested. Rust is inevitable while Carolina has been playing with urgency since Game 6 versus Washington. However, with a Barry Trotz coach team, the Islanders may surprise us all again much like they did against Pittsburgh. How does the Mathew Barzal line fair against the bottom six of Carolina? Also, how does the Islanders’ suddenly functional power play do versus a Carolina penalty kill which was gorged by Washington’s power play (75% penalty kill).
The first game expects to be a bit out of sorts. How long does New York take to get back into its defensive, counter-punching system? That will be key.
1u – NYI Islanders MoneyLine @ -135
Avalanche @ Sharks
There were a few pundits who thought Colorado could upset Calgary. We predicted Colorado could pull off a series win in six but who could have expected a five-game victory the way the Avalanche pulled it off. Nathan MacKinnon could not be corralled by Calgary’s defense and then the Colorado power play took over. Four of their five power play goals came in a little over two games of play.
Colorado comes in after being off for around a week while San Jose hops right back in it after an emotional Game 7 comeback which was one of the craziest games ever. They will be without Joe Pavelski (upper-body injury) for Game 1 and that is significant.
How does San Jose slow down the top line for Colorado? They will try and use the Logan Couture line and hope for the best. The Avalanche top line gets major correlation to their power play which is one of the better ones in the league. San Jose allowed eight power play goals to the Vegas Golden Knights in round number one. That was third worst out of the 16 teams. Colorado’s penalty kill was slightly better at just over 77%.
Game 1 of this series is a nasty one to gauge because of the injury to Pavelski, the adventures of Martin Jones, and the pace of both teams. San Jose’s Timo Meier could be a real difference maker. His ability to carve defenses could be a game changer as no one from Vegas had any kind of answer for him in Games 5-7 of that series.
Home ice advantage in Game 1 should help San Jose along with playing with extreme urgency. After all, San Jose was minutes from a painful elimination before Wednesday night’s miraculous outcome.
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ -142
1u – SJS Sharks Moneyline @ -129