NHL Playoff Picks and Predictions – Previewing Every Sunday 4/16 Game

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The playoffs roll on Sunday and things kick off early with an afternoon game between the Blues and the Wild. The Series are starting to take shape and some teams are already trying to crawl out of some pretty big holes. The action has also switched back to the away team’s home ice in most cases which adds an entire new element to betting.

As always, we’re here to break down each game and make sure you have all the information you need to make a well-researched and thorough bet. Just because the series is trending in one direction doesn’t mean it can’t change in one game. Let’s get to it!

Edmonton Oilers (+1.5)
VS
San Jose Sharks (-1.5)
Total: 5 (+117o, -129u)

Moneyline

  • Edmonton (+118) at San Jose (-130)

The Oilers dug deep to rebound from their Game 1 loss to hand the Sharks a 2-0 loss in Game 2 in one of the most unconventional games we’ve seen. Both goals came from Edmonton when San Jose was on the powerplay but now that Connor McDavid has scored his first ever playoff goal (and shorthanded no less) it feels like he may be ready to go on a run.

The Sharks did what they wanted to by splitting their games on the road and returning home with the series tied at one apiece and San Jose is a much better team at home this season, and in the playoffs. They’re clearly missing Joe Thornton on offense and defense and big Joe may try to force himself back into the lineup in game 3 to give his team a lift.

Edmonton will now see how well their experience and strong play keeps up when they hit the road. The Oilers are still incredibly young and that was put on full display in Game 1 but they made the right sacrifices and plays in Game 2 to avoid going down 2-0 in the series. Now Edmonton will try and keep the momentum going in a foreign building against a team that has infinitely more playoff experience.

Offense

The Sharks took a period for their offense to wake up in Game 1 but during Game 2 it just never got going. San Jose fired just 16 shots on net all game long and that’s just inexcusable for a team trying to keep up with the offense that Edmonton has in store. The Sharks’ defensemen contributed for five of the 16 shots they managed on the net and their forwards will need to be stronger on home ice.

After such a strong showing in Game 1, Joe Pavelski was seemingly nowhere to be found in game 1. He finished with zero points (like the rest of his teammates) and failed to record a shot on net on the way to a -1 rating. He couldn’t keep up with the speed of McDavid as number 97 seemed to get faster as the game wore on. If he can maintain his energy throughout this series the Sharks may never be able to slow him down.

San Jose was also dismal on the powerplay and when you don’t score goals with the extra man advantage your chances of winning diminish greatly. San Jose has gone just 1 for 12 on the powerplay in this series for a success rate of just 8.3 percent. They also gave up two shorthanded goals which proved to be all the scoring Edmonton would muster and that was more than enough for the Oilers.

As for Edmonton’s offense, they were humming all night long and their two shorthanded goals were just a product of hard work. They recorded 36 shots on net compared to the lowly 16 the Sharks mustered and were much better in the faceoff circle, winning 45 percent of their draws. Those won’t be as easy to come by on Sunday with the Sharks getting the last change but Edmonton seems to have found a formula for keeping up with San Jose.

Zach Kassian was the best Oiler of the night and if you’re not familiar with that name it’s time to start getting to know him. In addition to his beautiful goal, he racked up six hits and four shots on net and was all over the ice for Edmonton. The Sharks had no answer for his energy and if he continues to play at that level it could be tough for San Jose to win regardless of what building they’re playing in.

Defense

The Oilers have had a strong defense all season long and while they gave up the lead during Game 1 they weren’t about to do the same in Game 2. They blocked shots all over the ice and finished with 16 on the night led again by Kris Russell who put his body on the line for five of them.

Edmonton was also without their talented defenseman Oscar Klefbom for the majority of the game after he went down with an injury and did not return. Luckily for the Oilers and Klefbom, he thinks he’ll be able to give it a go in San Jose for Game 3 after sitting out practice and that’s a huge boost for Edmonton.

The Oilers’ forwards were also smarter with the puck and didn’t have the same jitters we saw in Game 1. They looked like the dominant team they were down the final stretch of the regular season and we expect a performance closer to that again on Sunday.

The Sharks defense’ wasn’t exactly bad. Both goals were given up on the powerplay on breakaway chances and other than that they limited the Oilers as best they could. They still blocked shots all game long but repeatedly coughed up the puck in the neutral zone and seemed overwhelmed by the speed Edmonton unleashed on Friday night.

Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic led the charge again in terms of ice-time for the Sharks but both would like to forget this game. They went away from their physical style of play with just one hit each and both finished as a -1 on the night. Both players will be more comfortable on their home ice as they try and avenge the Game 2 loss and we expect them to be more involved on offense and defense in an effort to help their club.

Goalies

Cam Talbot wasn’t exactly busy with just 16 shots against him but he more than did his part by stopping every single one he faced. He played his angles well and after giving up three goals in Game 1 he bounced back in a major way. He’s been as consistent as they come and the shutout will only serve to boost his confidence when he hits the road on Sunday.

Martin Jones can hardly be blamed for the Sharks’ loss. He stopped 34 of 36 shots but was beaten cleanly on both goals in individual efforts. If the Oilers continue to pepper him with shots and get loose on breakaways it’s only going to get harder for Jones.

Key Matchup

Leon Draisaitl against Brent Burns.

Both these players have been quiet in the series so far but we watched them unleash their skill all season long. Draisaitl was quiet again on Friday night despite getting a ton of minutes and while he’s not making many mistakes he also isn’t helping to contribute as much as we’re used to on the offensive end. He’ll try and fix that on the road Sunday against Burns who was one of the best defensemen in all of hockey this year.

Advice

The Oilers seemed to get over their playoff jitters in Game 2 and with the way the Sharks struggled to finish the season we love the odds Edmonton is getting on the road. Take the Oilers on the moneyline and hope their momentum carries over on the road as San Jose continues to adjust to life without Joe Thornton.

Pick

Edmonton
3
San Jose
2
Minnesota Wild (+1.5)
VS
St. Louis Blues (-1.5)
Total: 5 (+125o, -138u)

Moneyline

  • Minnesota (-106) at St. Louis (-104)

Well, this series isn’t going exactly how many predicted. After being one of the most dominant teams in the Western Conference and the entire NHL this season the Minnesota Wild suddenly find themselves down 2-0 in the series and heading on the road to take on a St. Louis Blues team that is playing with all the confidence in the world.

The Blues have squeaked out two one goal games that could have easily gone either way and are now just two wins away from moving on to the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. St. Louis returns home where they’re 24-12-5 this season thanks in large part to the play of their goaltender Jake Allen.

Allen made 29 saves and allowed just one goal after making a ridiculous 51 saves in the game prior. He stopped all 19 shots he faced at even strength and the only goal he allowed came from Zach Parise on the powerplay. He has an unbelievable .974 save percentage thanks to the barrage of shots he’s faced over his first two games and has his goals against average all the way down to 0.87. After a shaky start to the season Allen has clearly found his sea legs and the Wild are finding it tough to get anything by him.

It’s not due to a lack of trying either. The Wild are playing excellent hockey but just can’t seem to find any scoring thanks to how strong Allen has been. Zach Parise has now scored Minnesota’s only two goals of the playoffs and the Wild desperately need some of their regulars like Eric Staal and Mikael Granlund to step up. We expected Minnesota to bounce back and grab a win in Game 2 but things only get harder for them as they continue their series on the road.

It’s now been four games since the Wild have beat the Blues with their last victory coming all the way back on January 26th. Over their last ten games against St. Louis Minnesota has emerged victorious just three times and now they need to win four of the next five games starting with a win on the road Sunday.

Key Matchup

Jake Allen against Eric Staal.

Staal has had a lengthy NHL career and certainly revitalized it this season but thanks to playing for the Carolina Hurricanes for so long he hasn’t played as many playoff games as one might think. In his 1,011 games only 50 have come in the playoffs and he may be trying to do a little too much to make the most of it. Staal needs to rely on his shot and his size to try and create some more havoc for Allen who is absolutely dialed in right now. Staal did grab an assist on the lone goal in the last game but he’ll need to do even more to get his team out of the hole they find themselves in now.

Advice

Call us crazy but the Wild are a resilient bunch and getting excellent odds on the road. They’ve played some incredible hockey but as it seems to go every year for someone, they’ve run into a super hot goalie. Minnesota can play tight games and if they can get just a few goals past Allen on the road as a desperate bunch they can take this game. Take the Wild on the moneyline.

Pick

Minnesota
3
St. Louis
2
Pittsburgh Penguins (+1.5)
VS
Columbus Blue Jackets (-1.5)
Total: 5.5 (+132o, -145u)

Moneyline

  • Pittsburgh (+111) at Columbus Blue (-123)

This series is going basically how many predicted it to. The Penguins would come out with a healthy Evgeni Malkin back on the ice and pile on the goals against a strong but inexperienced Columbus Blue Jackets team. Through two games Pittsburgh has outscored Columbus 7-2 and the Jackets simply don’t seem to have the depth to keep up.

The Jackets held Sidney Crosby silent in their first game but opened up the ice for other players to take advantage. When they changed their gameplan in Game 2 Crosby took over with two assists and a goal in the 4-1 win. Number 87 is just too good to be left alone, but the rest of his Penguins’ teammates are more than talented enough to pick up the slack when he gets shadowed all night.

Now Columbus will try and regroup at home where they’ve been excellent this season. The Jackets own a 28-12-1 record in their own building while the Penguins enter with just a 19-15-7 record on the road. Pittsburgh is no stranger to what it takes to win on the road and not too much should be read into their regular season record away from their own building.

The Pens are also loving having Evgeni Malkin back. The big forward was huge with a goal and two assists of his own after missing most of the end of the regular season and leaving Game 1 with a shoulder injury. He returned with a bang and when he and Crosby get going there’s simply not two better players on any other team in the league.

If the Blue Jackets are going to get back into this series they’re going to need Sergei Bobrovsky to turn in the Vezina Trophy performances he was giving all season long. Bob the Goalie has been less than stellar during the playoffs with an 0-2 record and a 3.10 goals against average to go along with a save percentage of just .900. HIs team has only scored two goals over two games but he’s going to need to turn in some games for the ages if Columbus is going to win some games at home and get back in this series.

The Jackets will also need their offense to get going. After ranking as one of the best units throughout the entirety of the regular season they’ve faltered on the big stage and look skittish at best. After leading his team in points during the regular season Cam Atkinson has fallen flat without a point in two straight games. He’s still doing a decent job of backchecking but unless he can find some space in front to pick up a few points it could be a long series for the small forward.

Key Matchup

Marc-Andre Fleury against Cam Atkinson.

Fleury has been brilliant in relief for Matt Murray who suffered an injury in the warm up prior to Game 1. While he has a timetable to return, he may not need to with the way Fleury has been stopping pucks. Now he’ll need to leave the comfort of home ice to travel on the road and try and shut down the Jackets again in a hostile environment. It will start with shutting the door on Atkinson who is still looking for his first point of the playoffs. Atkinson has played just eight playoff games in his career and may still be battling some nerves against the likes of Crosby and the defending champion Penguins.

Advice

Columbus had too good of a season to be swept, and home ice should give them a boost. If they can win one in their own building they’ll be right back in this series and their odds on the spread are too good to ignore. Take the Jackets on the spread and hope Atkinson can break out of his mini slump.

Pick

Columbus
4
Pittsburgh
2
Montreal Canadiens (+1.5)
VS
New York Rangers (-1.5)
Total: 5 (+118o, -130u)

Moneyline

  • Montreal (+111) at New York (-123)

The Canadiens looked like they were on the verge of another disappointing loss thanks to a lack of offense btu with 18 seconds left in Game 2 and their backs against the wall they rose to the occasion when Thomas Plekanec scored the tying goal with just 18 seconds left in regulation. The goal breathed some life back into a team that was on the brink of being down 2-0 after two games on their own home ice and they kept their momentum going into overtime. Alexander Radulov scored the winner for Montreal and the Canadiens proved they mean business.

After Montreal failed to score a goal in Game 1 they responded with four in Game 2 and bettors who took them to win this series can breath a bit easier knowing that the Canadiens’ offense isn’t completely broken. With the Canadiens failing to generate many scoring chances Brendan Gallagher decided to spend almost the entire game in front of the Rangers’ net. He picked up an assist and a long list of hits in his 20+ minutes of action and that gritty type of effort is what the Canadiens will need more of when they hit the road Sunday.

Montreal also did a much better job of getting to Henrik Lundqvist. They finished the night with 54 shots on net and that type of non-stop offense is exactly what you need to succeed with any sort of consistency in this league. Alexander Radulov was arguably Montreal’s best player (scoring the game winner helps) but he also added two assists and played with an edge that Montreal desperately needed.

As for the Rangers, they let a giant opportunity slip away and will need to figure out how to bounce back in time for Game 3 in their own building. They were just 18 seconds from leading this series 2-0 and are now tied. At least for New York, they get to return home. The Rangers are also enjoying their offensive production and have now scored five goals over their first two games. We spoke about how important it was for Michael Grabner to get going for New York after a dismal second half of the season and he’s now up to two goals in two games and actually, leads his team in points.

While Lundqvist won’t be pleased with letting in the tying and winning goal he was still superb in turning away more than 50 shots. He’ll now get the comfort of playing back at home and his defensemen will need to do a better job of getting in front of some of the shots he’s bound to face.

Key Matchup

Brendan Gallagher and Ryan McDonagh.

McDonagh did the best job he could trying to get Gallagher away from the front of his goalie’s net but the pesky Canadiens’ forward was having none of it as he held his ground all game long. It was a thrilling individual battle to watch and we can’t wait to see how it evolves on Sunday night.

Advice

The Rangers were 21-16-4 at home this season and while that number is respectable it’s hardly unbeatable. The Canadiens know they need to win a game on the road and are still riding high off their thrilling win in Game 2. They’re getting excellent odds on the moneyline and we think Carey Price is due for a big game in net. Take Montreal on the spread.

Pick

Montreal
2
New York
0
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