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Picks and predictions for Wednesday's NHL slate from our expert handicapper

New York Islanders vs Philadelphia Flyers Predictions

In the weird world we live in during the year of 2020, it’s important to realize that people will react to their surroundings in different ways. The same applies to professional sports teams. You can’t just blindly analyze these teams as if this is a normal game in a normal arena with normal circumstances. I think it’s smart to ride streaks in this environment.

These two teams are an example of teams that appear nearly even on the betting lines but are currently in very different places.

New York has not given up a goal in their last two games. In game one of this series, they beat Philadelphia 4-0. Score-adjusted expected goals gave the Isles a 59-41 edge. The Isles had over 60% of the high danger chances. New York got contributions from up and down the lineup, whether its goals from their captain Anders Lee or their number six defenseman Andy Greene.

On the other hand, Philadelphia seems to have lost their identity and their game. They have only scored 11 goals in their last 7 games. Philadelphia was dominated pretty thoroughly by the Montreal Canadiens in the prior series, but the goaltending of Carter Hart and the lack of high-end talent on the Canadiens was enough for Philadelphia to survive.

However, the Islanders have players who can take advantage of opportunities. Mat Barzal, Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier and company are producing. Goalie Semyon Varlamov has been just as good as Carter Hart in this postseason.

At this point, you have to acknowledge these teams are in different places. Can this change? Of course. Philadelphia might be the better team in a normal world, but right now it’s hard to argue that they are.

PICK: NY Islanders (+100)

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins Predictions

These teams are playing on back to back nights and this is where things become problematic for the Boston Bruins.

When Tuukka Rask decided to leave the bubble, the team was handed to Jaroslav Halak. Halak has been a solid backup these past few years, but he hasn’t had a true starter’s workload since the 2014-15 season with the Islanders. He’s very rarely been asked to play games on back-to-back days. He’s also recently turned 35 years old, which isn’t a spring chicken anymore.

Halak’s backup is Dan Vladar. Vladar had a decent season in the minors, but he’s never appeared in an NHL game. If the Bruins decided to go with the backup in this contest, Vladar would be thrown to the wolves.

Andrei Vasilevskiy has more recent experience shouldering a bigger workload. He’s also almost a decade younger than Halak. However, goalies are always slightly weaker in the second half of a back-to-back. If Tampa Bay goes to the back-up goalie, Curtis McElhinney is unspectacular and hasn’t played a game in many months.

Tampa’s offense was the best in the league in terms of goals per game during the regular season. Boston has always shown a penchant for timely scoring. Through two games in this series, the teams have combined for 12 goals.

With the uncertainty in net, as well as both teams tired and being more prone to make mistakes, I think this game goes over 5.5 goals.

PICK: Over 5.5 goals (-103)

Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars Predictions

Well, this series has been a surprise. Like I said prior to game one, the lack of respect Dallas received prior to this series was appalling and just plain incorrect. The Avalanche were -225 to win the series and eliminate Dallas. Now? Dallas is -305 to eliminate the Avalanche.

The difference? Two games. Both won by the Dallas Stars.

The results have also impacted the game-to-game lines. In game one, we saw Colorado laying around -175. Prior to game two, we saw Colorado as a -155 favorite. Going into game three, they are all the way down to -137.

Remember, we are less than a week removed from watching this Colorado team score seven goals in back-to-back games. They absolutely dismantled the Arizona Coyotes. They were the Stanley Cup favorites on Saturday afternoon.

If you think Dallas wins this game, you are saying that the Colorado Avalanche season is all but over. Only three teams in NHL history have come back from three games to zero. Therefore, Colorado will be playing for their season in game three.

I like to imagine the betting market similarly to the stock market. It’s good to buy on teams when their stock is low. Colorado’s stock has dropped from -175 to -137 in four days. I’ll buy the dip and expect the Avalanche to be desperate and playing as if their season is on the line, because it is.

You can’t overreact too much. Colorado was the better team in game two. If the Avalanche won that game like they deserved to, what is the line in this game? Probably closer to the -155 we saw in game two. Buy low on the Avs.

PICK: Colorado ML (-137)


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