One trend to note here as we enter the 4th day of the tournament:
-Goal scoring is lower than I (and Vegas) expected. When you include the exhibition games every team played last week, 22 of 26 games played have gone under the total. This is starting to be reflected in the lines, as for the first time we have flat totals of 5 in both NYI/FLA and NSH/ARI. Every other “over” for today’s slate except Columbus vs Toronto is at plus money.
It’ll be interesting to see if goal scoring increases as teams settle in and get more comfortable playing after the long break.
Arizona vs Nashville - Nashville @ -120
Arizona Coyotes vs Nashville Predators Predictions
I did like Nashville to win game one of the series. Nashville outplayed Arizona on Sunday, but their slow start and spotting the Coyotes a 4-1 lead was too much to overcome. Nevertheless, it’s important to look at what actually went on in the game.
Nashville received awful goaltending as Juuse Saros gave up three in the first period including a weird bounce where he lost track of the puck that kicked off the scoring. After a point shot went off skates and shoulders and past a confused Saros, the Coyotes kept coming on and had a 3-0 lead. It was basically game over already. On the other hand, Arizona’s goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped 40 of 43 shots.
Nashville won the expected goal battle by almost 50% (1.66 to 1.13). Even when adjusting for score effects, Nashville had more high danger chances, shot attempts, expected goals, and scoring chances. This game simply came down to goaltending where Kuemper was magnificent and Saros was subpar.
It seems the market has seemed to overreact to the game one result. Nashville was -135 favorites on Sunday, and currently they are near -120. Nothing that happened on Sunday warrants this drastic of a drop.
With a more desperate team, and hopefully a better goalie performance, we go back to the Predators and try them again.
PICK: Nashville ML (-120)
Columbus vs Toronto: Columbus ML @ +130
Columbus Bluejackets vs Toronto Maple Leafs Predictions
When two teams continually show you what they’re made of, it might be time to take it at face value rather than constantly compare it to the underlying metrics, common sense, pre-season expectations, favorites, underdogs, and any other preconceived notions we possess.
We know that the Toronto Maple Leafs are supposed to have an all-star offense. They were on the shortlist of Stanley Cup favorites pre-season. Despite this, they were seen as a big disappointment all season long, and then barely showed up for game one of this series. They got shut out by Joonas Korpisalo, and they couldn’t even muster a shot in the last 6-plus minutes of the game when they were down a goal.
Columbus over the past few seasons has been seen as a team that is hard to play against, but they’re just pesky. They aren’t a real threat. Well, last season, during the first round, they swept the best regular season team of recent memory when they eliminated Tampa Bay. Tampa’s offense was better than even Toronto’s. This year, despite expectations of being a cellar dweller after losing three all-stars from last year’s team, here they are again doing the same thing to another elite offense.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the Blue Jackets “Cinderella” story will come to an end. The ‘little-engine-that-could’ eventually will become the ‘little-engine-that-can’t.’ We believe that Toronto is a favorite for a reason, there’s too much talent on this team for them to never figure it out. Well, it’s been near 70 games in the regular season, and in their return to action, it looked like the same old Leafs.
Columbus is currently at +130, and as public money comes in, I think that’ll go even higher as people rush to back the Leafs thinking there’s no way they can go down two games.
PICK: Columbus ML (+130)
Hurricanes vs Rangers - Hurricanes -1.5 @ +175
Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Rangers Predictions
The Rangers were a trendy underdog picking heading into this tournament. People pointed to their undefeated season series record against the Hurricanes from the regular season. The Rangers also were in great form, improving as the season went along. They are a very young team, so it wasn’t an illogical next step to believe that they could continue to grow on that.
Well, anyone that’s watched the first two games of this series will tell you that the Rangers are completely being outclassed by these Hurricanes. In terms of expected goals, the two games in this series are two of the four most lopsided games we’ve seen so far. In Saturday’s game one, the Rangers scored a very late goal to make that margin of defeat look closer than it was. In Monday’s game two, the only Rangers goal came on a 2-man-advantage.
Igor Shesterkin hasn’t yet played in this series, but it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him on Tuesday. He is better than Lundqvist, but Lundqvist has not been the reason the Rangers are on the verge of elimination.
With New York being on the verge of elimination, I expect them to play a higher risk game. Carolina has scored very early in both games of this series. If the Hurricanes can get on the board early again, you will see a Rangers team that takes chances, might take penalties due to aggravation, and will pull their goalie late in the game if they have any opportunity at all.
You can argue the puck-line should have hit on Saturday, and it did hit on Monday. At plus money, and with the disparity we’ve seen in this series thus far, we’re taking a shot.
PICK: Carolina Hurricanes -1.5 (+175)