Here are Today’s NHL Picks:
Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final is tonight as the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins play in Boston for this pivotal tilt. Monday night’s game saw St, Louis predictably bounce back and control pace as they defeated Boston 4-2 to even the series at two games apiece.
Now, let’s look at the goalies.
Jordan Binnington made enough timely saves in this game as he turned away 21 of 23 shots overall. It was a typical St. Louis effort in these playoffs where they dominated 5 on 5 play. With not a lot of special team’s action, Binnington was able to get in a rhythm, especially in the third period, where he played quite well.
Tuukka Rask stopped 34 of 37 shots as he enjoyed another game where his save percentage was .900 or above. His consistency in these playoffs has been a huge comfort to Boston even when they have not fared so well. Rask kept Boston in a game where they should have been blown out.
With the way Binnington is playing, he may see a few more slot shots in Game 5 as Boston is a little more front heavy at this point due to injuries. The Bruins will feed off the home crowd, but can St. Louis sustain their level of play?
Shots and chances expect to be close to even on Thursday night. Score effects tilted in the favor of St. Louis in Game 4. The third period was a clinic by the Blues as the Bruins had few answers on how to slow down St. Louis. At even strength, St. Louis has shown an edge throughout this series in generating scoring chances and allowing them. That has made Jordan Binnington’s life a little easier.
Strength vs Strength:
Finally, Vladimir Tarasenko scored, and Ryan O’Reilly had that monster game people had been wondering about. O’Reilly tallied twice and had several other high-quality scoring chances.
One of the biggest problems Boston will have in Game 5 is trying to bounce back with an uncertain injury situation. It appears Matt Grzelcyk may play after all but Zdeno Chara’s injury status (reportedly broken jaw) is questionable to say the least. Depending on these two newsworthy items, Boston will have to adjust accordingly. They still may go with seven defensemen tonight.
At 5 on 5, Natural Stats Trick captured it best. Boston and St. Louis set quite a nice pace in the first period, but the final 40 minutes slowed down more to the liking of the Blues. Overall, expected goals for favored St. Louis at even strength by half a goal. That is a decent margin. The Blues controlled pace of play but with the scene shifting to Boston, who knows what may occur.
It was not just the O’Reilly line that took things over in Game 4, but it was the St. Louis defense which was able to move up in the play. Boston cannot play with five defensemen in this series as St. Louis can control and fatigue the Bruins with ease. Normally, team defense for both teams have been a strength but the “heavy” play of these squads causes difficulties in an alternating give and take.
Game 5 Betting Picks:
Our betting rationale still feels kind of like a yo-yo. St. Louis must stay out of the penalty box as Boston has a half dozen power-play goals in four contests. Boston must draw penalties to force their pace of play and take pressure off their team defense at even strength.
Also, if there is a game that St. Louis bucks the trends of this series, it would be this one. The Blues have shown a resiliency few teams can. Although Boston is just as capable, St. Louis enjoys a slightly better pace of play when it exerts its physicality.
Will Boston be able to engage its skill at all? Playing all four lines in balance is vital for that purpose. Boston’s duo of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson was virtually invisible during Game 4. They cannot be for Game 5. As for St. Louis, their offense and defense must stay in sync. Any significant deviations will allow Boston to control play, draw penalties, and disrupt the flow of the game. More special team’s play favors the Bruins heavily.
If the line stays where it is, taking a shot on St. Louis does not hurt. If it begins to shift back, then Boston may become a better play.
1u – STL Blues MoneyLine @+135
1u – Over 5.5 total goals @ +125
By Chris Wassel