Last night’s end result from the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers game had a little bit of good news and a little bit of bad news mixed in there. The Flyers 5-2 victory obviously was not what we were hoping for as we had the Rangers to win and close out the series, which of course is the bad news, but the good news is we have another game 7 to add to tonight’s schedule. There are three game 7’s on tap for tonight as this series along with the Minnesota/Colorado series, and the San Jose/Los Angeles series will all be decided this evening. Wayne Simmonds notched a hat trick and the Flyers eventually chased Henrik Lundqvist from the New York crease to stay alive and force tonight’s deciding game 7. It can be argued that the Rangers outplayed the Flyers, especially in the first period, and that argument can be followed up by noting the Rangers outshot the Flyers 36-29 on the evening. Unfortunately for New York, the shot count is irrelevant and Madison Square Garden will once again be hosting an NHL playoff game 7 this evening. Which series to choose from for tonight’s pick? We will go with the series we have been accurate with most often so far in these playoffs between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche.
Minnesota Wild @ Colorado Avalanche
My Pick – UNDER 5 (-105) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
The Minnesota Wild got key contributions from their highly-paid superstars in this series in order to push it to tonight’s game 7 in Colorado. Ryan Suter has been a workhorse for Minnesota all year long and his minute-eating presence on the back end has been a major factor to put Minnesota in the position they are currently in. Zach Parise however is getting most of the attention this series and for very good reason. The Minnesota native scored 2 goals and added 2 assists in game 6 to help his team force tonight’s game 7, and also to push his point total to ten for the postseason, tied for most overall with Avalanche rookie phenom Nathan McKinnon. Although scoring has been furious in four of the six games played so far this series, I believe tonight’s game will be less about explosive offense and more about not wanting to make mistakes, thus leading to a low-scoring game. I don’t expect either Head Coach to tell their respective teams to play tentative by any means, however that is just how some game sevens are played regardless of the teams involved or the strategies at hand. Though there have been some high scoring games in the series as noted above, the goaltending numbers don’t look all that bad from either starting goaltender. Darcy Kuemper of the Wild had two very strong performances in his first two starts of the series, giving up just one goal over games 3 and 4 combined, and carries a 1.53 goals against average and a .934 save percentage into tonight’s tilt. Semyon Varlamov of the Avalanche has held his own in the series as well with a 2.45 goals against average and a .923 save percentage so far. Minnesota’s style of play in general lends itself to a more defensive approach while the Avalanche, despite their hot trio of Nathan McKinnon, Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog, have received little to no secondary scoring throughout the series. If Minnesota’s defence, (and Ryan Suter every chance he can) can shut down this line, a low-scoring game is very much in play here. Colorado’s powerplay is still proving ineffective so far in the series with just 9.1% clip to speak of, and with a strong Wild penalty kill all season, this game could see few special teams goals as well. Not all game 7’s are tentative, low-scoring affairs, but I am expecting this one to be just that from the Pepsi Center in Denver.