Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
The Boston Bruins could sweep the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. This is ironic considering that Carolina swept the New York Islanders. That is after the Islanders swept the Penguins out of the first round. Now, that is one crazy scenario. Honestly, Carolina has played good enough to win at even strength in two of the three games.
Their problem has been special teams and it continues to be. Carolina’s special teams differential was negative (-1 this time) for Game 3 as Boston held on to win 2-1. On the bright side, Carolina did get better goaltending but then there was Tuukka Rask.
As always, a team is only as good as their goaltending. That was the case again in Game 3 where Tuukka Rask stole the show. He stopped 30+ shots and despite letting in a bit of a soft one, that never phased him. Rask stood his ground early and often in the third period and was able to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes late.
Again, aside from the one hiccup on the penalty kill, Curtis McElhinney played well. He stopped 29 of 31 shots in the loss. Again, Rask stopped 35 of 36 so there was little or no margin for error. Even strength was even in Game 3, which was progress.
The expected goals bounced back in Game 3 but scoring chances were about the same between all three games – just the margin was extremely changeable. Game 3 featured a period where Carolina dominated and Rask stood on his head, a period of Boston dominating the second which resulted in both their goals, and one wild third period where it looked relatively even.
Projected shots should rise to near 30 for each team as Carolina plays freely at home more often. Also, can Boston keep hammering the Hurricanes’ penalty killers to create chances and ultimately goals? Or, will Carolina finally figure out their power play, put pressure on Tuukka Rask, and maybe score a goal along the way.
Strength vs Strength:
Alas, Carolina played a good enough home game to have a chance for overtime. However, overtime never came. Better games were had by most of Carolina’s core – including Tero Teravainen and Sebastian Aho. It was encouraging to see Aho get an assist on the only goal for the Hurricanes. The center looked better than he had during the first two games in Boston.
One of the biggest problems Carolina has is most plays are one and done. They come in and get their opportunity and then that is it. Carolina’s defense must pursue the puck better in the offensive zone and keep pucks in that zone. Too many times, Boston was able to set up transition wise or attacking. Also, Boston had been guilty of this too in Game 3.
Injury wise, Jordan Martinook is day to day along with a lower-body injury while Chris Wagner wrenched his right arm in Game 2. Be vigilant when checking your lines and parlays on Thursday night.
The Hurricanes must stay the course and hope for better execution in all phases. If not, this game is Boston’s to lose yet again.
Game 4 Picks:
Our betting rationale hinges on a few theories. For one, how does Carolina start? Do we see the same thing since what happened on Tuesday night as Carolina outshot Boston?
Boston will want to come out and close this series as this is a chance to potentially rest a good bit longer if they win tonight.
Expectations dictate that the teams may go under 5.5 goals again. The toughest part of this series is figuring out again when does Carolina’s top six start executing like they did last year.
Obviously, Carolina scoring first helps immensely. Falling behind 2-0 to Boston was an almost certain recipe for a loss on Tuesday. That cannot happen again. The only way Boston relinquishes a lead is by some series of fluke plays. This is very rare especially in these playoffs.
Finally, the projected goals for is right near 5.5 so with the over/under almost at even money, it becomes nearly a coin flip.
1u – CAR Hurricanes MoneyLine @ +104
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +105
By Chris Wassel