Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
After the Boston Bruins swept the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, there are only three teams left in the Stanley Cup playoffs. St. Louis was knocked down on Wednesday night after a controversial play, but many would argue it was their poor start and finish which were worse. The lack of a killer instinct in the third period was as bad as the first 20 minutes.
The Blues’ problem is they cannot win two games in a row it seems. St, Louis has not been consistent at special teams either. Though they had a huge spurt in the second period, the Blues could not finish off San Jose and now can St. Louis “get over it” and move on?
As always, a team is only as good as their goaltending. Martin Jones was great after giving up four goals in the second period. He stopped all 15 shots faced in the third period and overtime as he did give San Jose a chance to come back and win. Jordan Binnington was again vulnerable in net late much like he was in a few games against Dallas. He even lost his poise a bit.
Again, neither goalie put a good game together as nine goals were scored combined on just 64 shots. That is well below average goaltending for both teams.
The expected goals leveled to near even between the two teams. Binnington and Jones must be better. Jones gave up some awful goals in the second period as none of the even-strength goals allowed were high-danger chances. Yet, Jones somehow bounced back late in the game. Binnington started out not so good, played much better in the second and then faltered a bit late.
Projected shots should rise to around 30 for each team as St. Louis needs to push pace more in Game 4. This may give San Jose a few more scoring chances than usual. Both goalies will be tested once again.
Strength vs Strength:
In close games this series, San Jose appears to be the better team so far. Game 3 showed another wrinkle as the Sharks were able to start controlling St. Louis as far as high danger scoring chances. San Jose out-chanced St. Louis in that metric 12-7.
One of the biggest problems St. Louis still has is covering the Logan Couture line fully. They seemed to get Colton Parayko on the ice and he effectively was helpful in slowing down that trio. However, on the tying goal, Craig Berube could not get him out there and that cannot happen too much more in this series.
Injury wise, Vince Dunn is the only significant injury for both sides as Dunn is day to day with an upper-body injury. The St. Louis defenseman is listed as questionable for now, but expectations look bleak. Even if he plays, Dunn is certainly not 100%.
The Blues need to get off to a better start in Game 4. San Jose finds ways to stay in games. St. Louis must put the hammer down but that has been proven to be easier said than done.
Game 4 Picks:
Our betting rationale is at a bit of a crossroads. How does St. Louis respond to what happened in Game 3? Did they put it behind them? The first period again will be telling. St. Louis was able to bounce back against Dallas even when things looked grave time and time again.
Can San Jose put two good enough games in a row together to win Game 4? San Jose started well but unraveled in the second period before bouncing back. It is difficult to expect either team to put forward a 60-minute effort at this juncture. This becomes controlling the key points of the game well enough. San Jose has been able to do that every other game so far.
Expectations dictate that the teams may go over 5.5 goals again. The toughest part of this series is figuring out the consistency among the inconsistent. There are all the makings of a long series here.
Obviously, St. Louis scoring first helps immensely. Falling behind 2-0 to San Jose cannot happen again. The Blues have more balance than the Sharks and must play like they did in Game 2.
Finally, the projected goals for is right near 5.5 but the spread is shifting upward a bit to almost -120 for the over. This may go back and forth as many are having a tougher than expected time trying to gauge this game. Stay tuned but here are our picks.
1u – STL Blues MoneyLine @ -133
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ -115
By Chris Wassel