At this point, entering day 3 of the NHL Return to Play tournament, we have seen 20 of 24 teams play real games. By the end of today, it’ll be all 24. The schedule kicks off at noon EST and we have six games on the slate all the way through the night.
Hurricanes vs Rangers - Over 5.5 Goals @+110
Carolina vs NY Rangers
Game One in this one was misleading for a bunch of reasons. Carolina absolutely dominated this game, and the one goal margin of victory does not begin to show that. Even when you adjust for score effects (considering Carolina scored just barely over a minute into the game), the Hurricanes had over 63% of the game’s shot attempts. Carolina came out especially strong, scoring early and absolutely dominating the first period. The Rangers slowly settled in as the game went along.
In addition to the score being closer than it appeared, it’s important to note that Carolina scored 1 goal in 7 powerplay opportunities, and the Rangers managed to do even worse, doing nothing in 7 opportunities. Just for clarity, the average NHL powerplay scored on 20.03% of man advantage opportunities this season. If the powerplay units weren’t awful, this game would have easily soared over the total.
Henrik Lundqvist was announced as a surprise starter just before puck-drop. Lundqvist is a future hall-of-famer but his better years have clearly passed him by. He is an inferior option to Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin practiced on Sunday and is available for Monday’s game. Lundqvist did perform well on Saturday and has much more experience than Shesterkin who is a rookie. Nevertheless, if the Rangers do make the change in goal, it’ll be an upgrade.
I liked the over for game one and it lost by half a goal. Nothing I saw makes me think that was a bad bet. At plus money, we once again go to the well here and take the over.
If Igor Shesterkin starts in net for the Rangers, I lean towards the Rangers at +130. They were +115 on Saturday with Lundqvist in net, so the value is definitely there..
The pick: CAR/NYR over 5.5 goals +110
Lean: NY Rangers Moneyline +130 (if Igor Shesterkin starts in net, will be known by 11:30 AM)
Flames vs Jets - Calgary Flames @-145
Calgary vs Winnipeg Jets
Going into this tournament, I said Winnipeg was likely the worst team in this whole tournament. In game one of this series, the Jets got dominated by the Flames and lost two of their best skaters.
Both Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine left Saturday’s game early with injuries. They did not practice on Sunday. Scheifele is the Jets’ number one center, and is basically irreplaceable on a team that does not have much down the middle of the ice. Laine is a dynamic game-breaking goal scorer. When a team has the puck as little as Winnipeg does in a normal game, they need players that could make an impact quickly and with their pure skill level and talent. Scheifele and Laine can do that. If these two don’t play, I think Winnipeg’s in a world of trouble.
Calgary didn’t even play that great of a game on Saturday, and they came out with a convincing win. If Laine and Scheifele are out, I think we’re heading for a sweep here. If by some miracle, both of these guys are in the line-up, avoid this play.
The pick: Calgary Flames -145
Blackhawks vs Oilers - Edmonton Oilers @-130
Chicago Blackhawks vs Edmonton Oilers
Two picks on this one. Enjoy.
I think we’re going to get a fun, back and forth series here. Edmonton fell in game one, giving up 6 goals. They did make a goaltending change midway through the game; Mikko Koskinen replaced Mike Smith. Smith gave up 5 of the 6 goals, so it’s safe to assume that Koskinen will replace Smith. Koskinen was the better goalie during the regular season, though Smith does have more playoff experience in his career.
Both of these teams give up a lot of scoring opportunities, and these teams have the scoring ability to take advantage of it. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Patrick Kane are arguably three of the top 5 forwards in the league right now. On Saturday, this game almost went over in the first period when 5 goals were scored. The final total of 10 shattered the over.
In a normal world, I would look towards the under as teams tighten up and adjust to each other. However, I’m not certain that these teams have the ability to do that. I think Edmonton comes out here, gets back in the series and wins a high scoring game.
The picks: Edmonton Oilers -130
Over 6 total goals -110
Vegas -125 on the moneyline to beat Dallas.
Vegas/Dallas under 5.5 goals. -130
Tampa Bay -130 on the moneyline to beat Washington