Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
Islanders @ Hurricanes
Is this an example of going back to the well once too often? We shall find out. Carolina delivered in the clutch on Wednesday night – scoring three times in the third period to crank out the team over, the over, and the moneyline all in one. It was quite the reversal of fortune from how the game was going early on. The New York Islanders looked poised to steal Game 3.
What happened? Carolina happened! They made a ten-minute stretch of the third period into their own. It was a sight to behold as chances and shots became rather lopsided. Sebastian Aho showed his might with a goal and assist. Teuvo Teravainen tallied twice. Curtis McElhinney (subbing for the injured Petr Mrazek) made all the timely saves needed. Carolina has figured out a weakness in Robin Lehner’s game as well – going blocker middle to high seems to be working. Worse, Carolina is flanking Lehner every time he handles the puck. It resulted in a Justin Williams goal in Game 3. The Islanders must adjust for that otherwise it could happen again.
So, what needs to happen for New York to have a shot in this game? They must slow down the Aho line. The problem is that top Carolina line brings another gear at home. That has been the early playoff trend for them so far. It will be easier said than done but if the Islanders can create their own forecheck, they will prevent Carolina from establishing theirs. It becomes that simple. Get timely scoring and keep their chances minimalized.
The key for Carolina comes down to timely goaltending, the top-six playing like they have, and defensive contributions. This Hurricanes defense has been quite opportunistic. Their top-four creates transitional offense for their forwards like few teams left in these playoffs. They also get back and yes, play defense. It is partly why the Hurricanes have given the Islanders so many fits. Given how poorly New York has played in the key points of this series, Carolina looks like there may be some brooms out tonight.
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +160
1u – CAR Hurricanes Moneyline @ -137
Stars @ Blues
Game 4 saw the series take a turn for the crazy. Jordan Binnington was going after everyone. Players were frustrated beyond words and things were just boiling over everywhere. It was quite a sight and yet all this means is the series is now a best-of-three.
Dallas showed something in the fourth game most had been looking for. They had a killer instinct though that faded during the third period as St. Louis came with waives from everywhere. St. Louis appeared to be more capable of dictating play that way. The third period showed what the Blues were truly capable of. Chances were more than 2 to 1 in favor of St. Louis. It does set up well for them as far as Game 5.
St. Louis and their top-nine forwards should be able to hem Dallas into their own zone often. This is because of the way they do their cross-overs and their dump-ins. It makes their rushes and counters up ice that much more dangerous. This creates difficulty for Ben Bishop to track the puck adequately.
The Blues’ power play is also something to watch in this game as well since it seems the power play is building dependent (at least based on the 20% increase in scoring chances). Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz will be players to watch from St. Louis. After that, depth players like Robert Thomas and Vince Dunn have been exemplary for the Blues.
Now, Dallas needs its top-six to force the issue again but for the whole 60 minutes. Playing for 30-40 minutes will not be enough. It would be helpful if Dallas sticks with a couple top lines but wait till warm-ups for that. This expects to be quite a battle to cap off Friday night.
This series is quite even. The key will be sustaining development
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +130
1u – STL Blues Moneyline @ -142
By Chris Wassel