We are officially back on track with our NHL picks as we hit our last two picks on Friday and Saturday, getting us back to 2-2 so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Saturday night, the Colorado Avalanche took over game two of their series against Minnesota after the Wild scored the first goal five minutes into the contest. The Avalanche responded very quickly as potential rookie of the year Nathan McKinnon scored a beauty to knot the game at 1’s and it was mostly Avalanche from there on out. The Avs now have a 2-0 lead on Minnesota and will head to the State of Hockey tonight for game number three. In fact, we will stick with this series for our NHL pick tonight to try and extend our winning streak to three straight.
Colorado Avalanche @ Minnesota Wild
My Pick – UNDER 5 (+105) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
The Xcel Energy Center will be rocking tonight as the Minnesota Wild will play their first home game of the 2014 playoffs and will be in a dogfight to try and stay afloat in the series and avoid a 3-0 hole at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs pulled off an unlikely game 1 victory over Minny and the Wild had no better fortune in a 4-2 game 2 loss, however home ice has been very good to this team this year. The Wild were the league’s 5th best team in terms of goals against per game on home ice this season, surrendering just 2.2 goals per game at home as opposed to 2.5 per game overall. Look for Darcy Kuemper to get the nod between the pipes tonight for Minnesota as Iyla Bryzgalov has looked shaky in his first two starts of the postseason, prompting head coach Mike Yeo to yank the Russian goaltender in game two and replace him with Kuemper, who stopped all of the 14 shots he faced to finish off the 4-2 loss. In 25 starts for the Wild this season, Keumper posted a 2.43 goals against average and a .915 save percentage, however those numbers would look much better if it weren’t for his last few starts of the regular season as Kuemper played very well for the majority of his time filling in for the ill Josh Harding and injured Niklas Backstrom.
For the Avalanche the scoring has been taken care of by the trio of Nathan McKinnon, Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog as the line combined for 10 points Saturday night and McKinnon has scored seven points over the first two games of the series, setting a record for most points by a player in his first two career postseason games. If this line gets shut down by the line matching abilities of Yeo on home ice, this series could turn in a different direction. One thing remains steady for the Avs however as Semyon Varlomov stood tall in game number two as the Avalanche were outshot by the Wild. Varlomov is thriving under head coach and former Stanley Cup Champion Patrick Roy this season and looks poised to take Colorado deep into this year’s playoffs. Varlomov is a major reason why the UNDER is 8-4 over Colorado’s last 12 games overall and 4-2 in Colorado’s last six games away from the Pepsi Center. With solid goaltending expected from both team’s and tonight’s venue hosting low-scoring games all season long, I am going to look for the UNDER 5 in tonight’s game three and expect a tighter checking game from the Xcel Energy Center.