Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final is Saturday night as the scene shifts from Boston to St. Louis. The Blues managed to turn the tables on the Bruins in Game 2 as they dominated most of the game and were rewarded with a 3-2 overtime win.
Our series preview is right here.
As always, the goalies are the last line of defense and amusingly enough the script flip was noticeable as Tuukka Rask faced nearly 40 shots and Jordan Binnington faced around 25. Give both goalies some credit here after a wild first-period as scoring dwindled to nearly nothing the rest of the way.
Both goalies looked better for the most part in Game 2 after that first 20. There lies an expectation that Game 3 could be a bit like Game 2 with more spread out scoring.
With the way Binnington is playing, he may see a few more slot shots in Game 3 as Boston frantically tries to adjust to counter their injuries. This may push the pace but also may create situations where Tuukka Rask will be more heavily relied on.
Shots and chances expect to be a bit more even come Saturday night. How much so? That is up to anyone as far as a guess. It is clear that Tuukka Rask must step up a bit as he has looked mostly ordinary too often in this series.
Strength vs Strength
Alas, this one is so essential. Boston must get more production from its top line as the fourth line has looked much better defensively and offensively. It has not been close as St. Louis has picked on the Bruins top trio quite often. This unfortunately has become a part of some unforeseen oddities. St. Louis has no Oskar Sundqvist for Game 3 due to a hit from behind. That will impact the Blues’ depth at least a little bit.
One of the biggest problems St. Louis will have in Game 3 is trying to sustain Game 2’s brilliant game plan. Some will argue that St. Louis overachieved with their numbers but that was not the case. They played with a bit more discipline and were able to improve as the game went on. By the first period, St. Louis wore down Boston’s defenses and neutralized their team speed.
At 5 on 5, Natural Stats Trick captured it best. St. Louis held a 6-1 edge in high danger scoring chances over the final 25 minutes of the hockey game. Overall scoring chances were 14-4 St. Louis over that span. Those are some frightening numbers.
David Pastrnak and the top line could not create space like it wanted to in either game at home. That is concerning as a part of prevailing thought suggests it may be time to break up the “perfection line” once more. Meanwhile, can St. Louis roll four lines again like they did in Game 2?
Game 2 Betting Picks:
Our betting rationale is mixed some. The dilemma is what to expect considering the Boston top line has done so little in the first two games. However, Boston has a weird knack of surprising bettors when they appear down and out in a series.
Also, Boston’s balance must return from the Carolina series and quickly. It was there in Game 1 and Boston won. This vanished in Game 2 and they lost. The problem with St. Louis is can they be leaned on to win two in a row?
1u – BOS Bruins MoneyLine @ +108
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +125
By Chris Wassel