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Our picks for today's NHL Stanley Cup Playoff action

Here are Today’s NHL Picks:

Sharks @ Blues

After the game on Sunday, there were many references which could have been made. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” comes to mind as St. Louis did not dominate just by the goals but in almost every single metric one cold name. The 5-0 score was nothing compared to the statistical and physical toll the Blues exacted in San Jose.

San Jose was held to just five high danger scoring chances (three late due to score effects). St. Louis had 12 such chances (including nine in the second stanza). From a few minutes into the second period until several minutes into the third was about as dominant a 20 to 25-minute stretch as anyone has seen all postseason. San Jose had zero answers as the Blues rolled all four lines generating chance after chance after chance. Their expected goals for was 2.03 for a period. That was the highest seen all postseason long as well. Then, there were the injuries.

Consider that the Sharks were without Joe Pavelski, Erik Karlsson, Tomas Hertl, and Joonas Donskoi for most of the third period in Game 5. Their statuses for Game 6 will be up in the air. Even if they play, none of these players are 100%. Anyway, let’s look at the goalies.

Goalie Digest:

As always, a team is only as good as their goaltending. Martin Jones was not awful in net, but he did give up five goals on 40 shots (36 in the final 40 minutes). Meanwhile, Jordan Binnington had mostly an easy time of it. After the first period, where the St. Louis goalie saw 11 shots, he faced 12 the rest of the contest. Binnington did make a couple crucial saves in the third period to preserve his first career playoff shutout.

Again, St. Louis created far too many chances as San Jose’s defense was overrun by a relentless, physical force. Simply, the Sharks capitulated and were chum in the water for the Blues. Martin Jones had zero chance.

The expected goals leveled a tiny bit in the third period but overall it was still 2.75-1.43 in favor of St. Louis. There was zero dispute who the better team was and even in the third period, shots were still 16-4 St. Louis despite mostly playing a more defensive posture.

Projected shots should rise to above 30 for St. Louis when it comes to Game 6. As for San Jose, it is anyone’s guess. One thing to expect is the unexpected in these playoffs. It will not be easy, but the Sharks will try to push the pace forward because of how their team defense was manhandled across the board in Game 5.

Strength vs Strength:

Game 5 showed the true effects of rolling all four line to near perfection as San Jose functionally played with five defensemen with the continued maladies of Erik Karlsson. Then, the injured piled up as St. Louis hit everything in sight during the second period. Their strength was able to exceed any of the assets San Jose could muster. The result resembled more of a demolition.

One of the biggest problems San Jose then had was discipline as San Jose took eight penalties in a row at one point. It is hard to win a game when a team sits in the penalty box for that long. Credit St. Louis for completely taking San Jose out of its game and forcing them to chase the puck constantly. That went for all lines – even the Logan Couture line.

Injury wise, Vince Dunn is still out 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%. Unfortunately, for San Jose, Erik Karlsson (groin/lower body), Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, and Joonas Donskoi will all have to be monitored. Like we mentioned above, that is a lot to digest. Donskoi appears the least serious of the four and was not even listed on the injury report. That is good news. The other three are not healthy.

The Sharks need to get off to a better start in Game 6. St. Louis must put the hammer down but that has been proven to be easier said than done. They may have placed San Jose on the brink but now, can they finish what they started?

Game 6 Picks:

Our betting rationale is simplistic. St. Louis emphatically bounced back after what happened in Game 3 and has rattled off two impressive wins in that time.

Can San Jose find a way to push onward? They did begin to find some holes in the St. Louis defense late in Game 5, but the Blues were mostly in prevent mode. They will have to create something. Players like Evander Kane and Timo Meier must step up and lead the charge along with Brent Burns. Martin Jones cannot face 35-40 shots and be expected to win. Can San Jose play better team defense?

Expectations dictate that the teams may go over 5.5 goals. The toughest part of this series is figuring out the consistency among the inconsistent. St. Louis scored five by themselves on Sunday afternoon. The idea that it was a matinee is just an excuse for San Jose at this point.

Obviously, St. Louis scoring first helps immensely. Falling behind against San Jose will give the Sharks unexpected confidence.

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. The moneyline should keep trending more on the St. Louis side but watch the statuses of the San Jose walking wounded. Stay tuned but here are our picks.

1u – STL Blues MoneyLine @ -153

1u – Over 5.5 total goals @+100

By Chris Wassel

Article Author


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