The second round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is reaching a pivotal point with multiple teams on the verge of being pushed to the brink of elimination. Let’s take a look at how we can try to cash some tickets with the games on Sunday.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars – Game 4 (Dallas leads series 2-1)
The Colorado Avalanche found themselves trailing Game 3 of this series 4-3 with less than 10 minutes left in the 3rd Period after coughing up a 3-1 lead. They were close to being down 3-0 in this series but the Avs rallied late with 3 unanswered goals from that point on to emerge with a much needed 6-4 win and get themselves right back in the series.
Colorado has been pushed hard by a Dallas Stars team that is peaking at the right time. The Game 3 victory for Colorado snapped a five-game winning streak for Dallas but the Stars have been the team controlling the play for longer periods of this series. Colorado is still having a tough time defensively without Erik Johnson on their blue line who is their best stay at home shutdown defenseman and the ability to defend at a high level has clearly been compromised without him. The Avalanche have been prone to more gaffes and miscues with the puck and have taken a lot of penalties all of those are characteristics of a struggling blue line. Dallas hasn’t lost confidence following Game 3 according to head coach Rick Bowness: “We’ll respond. We’ve responded all year to challenges like we faced (Wednesday night). I’m very confident in that room, and in the leadership and the character of our players and their desire to win, and I’m very confident we’ll respond in the next game.”
Colorado outshot Dallas 103-93 in this series and they have generated a bunch of high-quality scoring chances yet failed to capitalize on them. Dallas has also generated plenty of high danger chances in this series but they have cashed in with more regularity on those opportunities. I said in one of my columns earlier in this series that Colorado getting their second line which features Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky would have to make an impact and play as well as they did in the first-round series win against Arizona. They had their best game as a line by far in Game 3 with both Kadri and Burakovsky scoring in the win. That’s the kind of production from their depth lines behind the MacKinnon-Landeskog-Rantanen top line that makes Colorado a scary team.
I think the Game 3 momentum could carry over for Colorado. I backed Colorado in Game 3 and cashed with them and given the fact I liked them to win the series, I have to come right back to betting on Colorado here in Game 4. I like the Avs to even the series. The over is 6-0 in Dallas last six games and the over is 5-1 in Colorado’s last six games. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For the fourth straight game in this series, I’m betting the over even though the total has been pushed up to 6 for Game 4.
Colorado/Dallas Over 6 +100
Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders – Game 4 (NY Islanders lead series 2-1)
The New York Islanders bounced back in Game 3 with a strong performance in a 3-1 win following a tough 4-3 OT loss in Game 2 when they erased a 3-0 deficit to tie the game and force overtime but couldn’t quite complete the comeback. The Islanders lead the series 2-1 and once again, they were the better team for two of the three periods in the victory in Game 3 last night. If you have watched this series start to finish, it won’t be difficult to recognize that the NY Islanders have outplayed Philadelphia for at least six or seven of the nine periods of hockey that have been played so far.
The Flyers are finding it difficult to get high danger chances and quality shots against this very staunch Islanders defense that has held them to just 5 goals in the first three games combined. The NY Islanders have done a great job at keeping this series mostly at 5-on-5 even strength maintaining their discipline and not taking bad and unnecessary penalties. They have given Philadelphia just four power plays in the first three games and the Flyers haven’t scored on any of them. That’s huge because when the NY Islanders keep the game at even strength, they have outplayed their first two playoff opponents Washington in the first round and so far here in the second round against Philadelphia. The Flyers rare 4 goal outburst in their Game 2 win didn’t carry over and Claude Giroux is still yet to score a goal in the playoffs for Philadelphia. Take out the Game 2 win for the Flyers and they have scored just 11 goals in their other eight playoff games to this point which is a paltry average of just 1.37 goals per game.
In contrast, the NY Islanders have scored 10 goals in the first three games of this series and are leading the Flyers 10-5 in total goals scored in this series so far. I’ve said it before that the NY Islanders are not a team loaded with offensive depth but they have more than enough talented forwards especially with the majority of their top-six forwards finding ways to hit the scoresheet routinely to be able to score enough goals to win games. While the power play has let Philadelphia down, it has come through for the NY Islanders who have registered a goal with the man advantage in each of the last two games.
This is a tough game to handicap because the NY Islanders appear to be controlling this series for the most part. However, it’s impossible to ignore the Philadelphia Flyers exceptional and unblemished record off a loss dating back to January which I have mentioned in multiple articles here at Line Movement. The Flyers are on a perfect 11-0 run in their next game following a loss in their previous game. That is a track record I will not go against and for that reason, I’ll recommend a smaller wager on Philadelphia who will attempt to tie the series.
Philadelphia ML (price TBD)
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks – Game 4 (Vegas leads series 2-1)
This has been a peculiar series to this point with Vancouver’s impressive 5-2 win in Game 2 sandwiched in between a pair of dominant Vegas shutout wins by a combined score of 8-0 in Game 1 and Game 3. Vegas got out to an early and quick 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the 1st Period and then went into shutdown mode after that playing rock solid and steady defense in their own zone and also receiving terrific goaltending from Robin Lehner who had one of his best performances of the playoffs registering a 32 save shutout. The Golden Knights offensive stars are usually Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Reilly Smith and they often do much of the scoring for this team but lately, they have gotten big-time offensive contributions down the lineup from Alex Tuch who is on a current four-game goal scoring streak with five points as well during that span. That is something worth noting from a goalscorer and player points props standpoint. Tuch has been a very good player prop betting option in recent games and I suspect that might continue for a while longer as his third line doesn’t get the same amount of defensive attention and focus from the other team.
There are definitely some fatigue concerns that I have for the Vancouver Canucks right now who will be playing their 10th game in 19 days here in the playoffs with this Game 4 matchup against Vegas on Sunday night. The Canucks have played a lot of intense and physical hockey during that time and they are still shorthanded on the blue line with Tyler Myers still out due to a shoulder injury. Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom has faced 342 shots on goal in the Canucks last nine playoff games and there are some subtle signs of him starting to wear down just a bit due to the heavy workload. I would expect him to start in net here once again in spite of this being back-to-back games.
Vegas is 9-3 this season on the second night of back-to-back games and Vancouver is just 5-6 in that same situation. It’s worth noting the last time Vegas played a back-to-back set in the playoffs which was against Chicago in the first round, they started Marc-Andre Fleury in the second of those back-to-back games and there is a chance head coach Pete DeBoer may do the same here. I wouldn’t doubt the resolve of Vancouver to play a much better game here like they did in Game 2 but I doubt their energy level a bit as it seems the number of games they’ve played in a short span is catching up with them.
I lean Vancouver at the big underdog price here but not sure I will bet it myself. I will be betting this game over the total. Game 3 stayed under but I think both defenses will be susceptible to some breakdowns and fatigue on the tail end of this back-to-back set of games. The over is 4-1-1 in the last 6 games for Vancouver when they have lost by 3 or more goals in their previous game. The over is also 19-7-1 in the last 27 games for the Canucks in games after Vancouver was held to 2 goals or less in the previous game. Expect more of the same here.
Vegas/Vancouver Over (5.5 or 6—line TBA)