Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
The Eastern Conference Final opens in Boston tonight as the Boston Bruins battle against the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina comes off a sweep of the New York Islanders while Boston beat a pesky Columbus Blue Jackets squad in six, grueling games.
Our series preview is right here.
As always, the goalies take considerable spotlight at this stage of the playoffs. Teams get this far due to their goaltending being a big part typically of the equation. That is 100% true here as Tuukka Rask went 4-2 with a sub 2.00 goals-against average and a save percentage over .950 in round number two. Curtis McElhinney came in for an injured Petr Mrazek and stopped 71 of 75 shots for Carolina in their four-game conquest of New York.
Petr Mrazek practiced on Tuesday and showed no ill effects from the groin injury that caused him to leave Game 2 early and miss the rest of the Carolina sweep. He had stopped 210 of 230 shots before the malady.
With the way McElhinney was playing, some may view it as a questionable decision, but Carolina already hinted at starting Mrazek once he was healthy.
Why is there a heavy focus on the goaltending? At some point, a team needs their goaltender to bail them out. Both goalies have performed well but again Rask has been on another level since Game 6 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Strength vs Strength:
Alas, this one is vital. It will be intriguing to see which top-six unit sustains its production from Round 2. Remember, Carolina has been rested for over a week. The rust would be understandable. Then, there is Boston. The Patrice Bergeron line could match up against the Sebastian Aho line or the Jordan Staal line. Bruce Cassidy has options.
One of the biggest problems Carolina will have in Game 1 is trying to slow down the Boston power play. Though it has not been dominant, the man advantage has generated a number of opportunities. Also, Carolina yielded nine goals in 36 tries on the penalty kill. That success rate is just 75%. Combine that with a power play barely above 10% and that is special team’s trouble. David Pastrnak and Teuvo Teravainen are going to be vital on each team’s power play unit.
Game 1 Picks:
Our betting rationale is mostly along home friendly lines for this opening game. Boston’s team over could be in-play here and can be played depending on the number. Furthermore, the puckline at -1.5 can be introduced as well. That is due to Carolina’s rest and most forget how Carolina played against Washington to start out round one.
How is Petr Mrazek? If he shows no ill effects from the groin injury during game action, then the game and series get interesting and quick from a bettor’s standpoint. If not, then Game 1 is a virtual cakewalk. Also, the depth of Carolina must thrive in Game 1 for them to win and that seems questionable at best. Boston’s depth rates just a little better and that makes a difference especially early in this series.
1u – BOS Bruins MoneyLine @ -150
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +114 (Value Play)
1u – BOS Bruins PuckLine (-1.5 goals) @ +187
By Chris Wassel