NHL Playoff Predictions - Tuesday, May 25
We finally have a slow night in the NHL after an intense, whirlwind start to the playoffs. Tuesday night sees just two games across the league. Toronto looks to take a commanding series lead against Montreal, while Carolina and Nashville play a pivotal game five in their series which is currently tied.
Toronto Leads 2-1
After playing game three on Monday night, these teams will have less than 24 hours to turn it around and play game four. The Toronto Maple Leafs won a hard fought game three by a score of 2-1 to take a lead in the series.
The Maple Leafs remain prohibitive road favorites in game four. Toronto hasn’t looked particularly impressive through three games, but Montreal is generating almost nothing offensively.
Montreal has just 3.71 expected goals through three games at 5-on-5. Additionally, Montreal has generated just 14 high danger chances in the series, an average of less than five per game. This is substantially lower than teams like the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues, who have already been eliminated.
When Montreal fired Claude Julien mid-season, they made the decision to stop playing the “fun” brand of hockey that saw them generate chances amongst the best teams in the league. Under Dominique Ducharme, the team has cratered in terms of puck possession and shot generation.
While Montreal has struggled to generate offense, they’ve done a decent job of slowing Toronto’s offense down at 5-on-5. The Leafs have just five goals at even strength. Additionally, the Leafs are averaging less than two expected goals per game while generating just 19 high danger chances themselves.
Jack Campbell has adjusted nicely to the postseason, getting beat just four times in three games while posting a goals saved above expectation of +1.4. Carey Price has also been solid, keeping the Habs in the game while posting a GSAx of +3.9.
With tired legs and the defensive nature of this series, I’d look for another under here. The Leafs remain without John Tavares who is one of their top offensive players, which only furthers the case for a low scoring game.
Bet: Under 5.5 Goals @ -110
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Series Tied at 2
The home team has won every game in this series, and both teams have tremendous support and increased arena capacity. In a year where we have largely ignored the impact of fans in arenas, these two fan bases are making an impact in this series.
However, at the same time, we can’t ignore how evenly this series has been played. Nobody expected the Predators to play evenly with the Hurricanes here, but there hasn’t been much separating these teams at all. With Nashville being a substantial underdog in game five, there’s definitely value at the current price based on what we’ve seen. I wouldn’t be opposed to a play on Nashville at +163 here.
With that being said, I don’t want to discard the large sample of the regular season. It feels like Carolina can still reach another level while it’s hard to imagine the Predators playing much better. Even though Nashville has played extremely well, it’s still taken double overtime on two separate occasions for them to get their two wins. For all intents and purposes, overtime is a coin flip and Nashville has won the coin flip twice in a row.
I’d look towards the Hurricanes here because I think they are the better team. I also think the fans in Raleigh should get their team back on track. However, at -190, it’s a non-starter. After back to back overtime games, I’d look for game five to finish in regulation. The Hurricanes are currently -109 to win the game in the first 60 minutes, and that’d be my strategy to back them in this spot.
Carolina’s top line with Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen have been impressive. Aho has been leading the charge with five points in four games. The trio has an expected goal rate of 61.5% in 53 minutes together during the series.
Additionally, goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic has acquitted himself nicely in these playoffs, stopping nearly 93% of the shots he’s faced while posting a +1.1 goals saved above expectation.
I think Carolina is the better team, and back home, I like them to gain the edge in this series. I don’t think it’ll take more overtime, as we’ve seen enough of that in this series.
Bet: Carolina Hurricanes In Regulation @ -109