What an exciting way to kick off the NHL playoffs last night with a plethora of entertaining games that sure got the juices flowing. The Chicago Blackhawks were able to come all the way back from 3-0 down to down the Predators in OT. Then the Habs were able to win a wild one over the Senators to take a 1-0 series lead, and the Calgary Flames improbable run keeps rolling on with a tight 2-1 win against the Canucks. It was a late goal from the Flames that allowed them to snatch home-ice away from the Canucks. What a close series that one is going to be. Flip a coin with a winner of that one. A lot of these series are going to be close and we’ll see plenty of 1 goal games with little separating the teams. It isn’t going to matter on seeding, because in the NHL now, every team has a legitimate shot at winning their series. The Rangers are a top seed, but I know some people are out there calling the Pens to win that series. The Penguins limped into the playoffs, and I think are going to need to catch momentum early to get rolling in this series. If the Rangers win both at home I’m fairly certain this series is going to be over.
In my featured NHL pick today, we look at a top seed who by all means on paper should be able to run away with the series. The Wild spoiled the party for a top seed last year with a series victory over the Avalanche and look to do it again here against the Blues. I don’t see it being that easy. The Blues from top-to-bottom are a much better team than that Avs team was. Do I think the Wild improved from last year? I actually seem them as a team that stayed about the same talent wise as they were last year at this time. To beat the Blues in this series, they’re going to need to have some bounces and breaks go their way. I’m not saying it is impossible, but the Blues should be focused and hungry after they had to bow out early a year ago. A lot of that had to do with injuries. This season they are healthier and it showed in the regular season. All they need to do now is translate it to the playoffs. Easier said than done.
Minnesota Wild @ St. Louis Blues
This is a quick turnaround for the Wild and Blues, who just recently played on the weekend. It was sort of a weird game. There was no scoring whatsoever and it was looking like the first team to score was going to win. On the drop of a hat though, there were four or five goals scored within like 10 minutes. Then there was a late goal with under a minute remaining to make it a 4-2 final in favor of the Blues. I believe what we seen for the greater part of the game, tight defense, is what it is the better reflection of what these two teams pose. The Wild and Blues are two of the most efficient teams defensively in the NHL. Around this time of year defense reigns, so we’ll see how it plays out when they meet in this series.
They both play a similar brand of hockey and are almost identical on the defensive front. The Blues allowed 2.40 goals per game, while the Wild were a tad behind them allowing 2.41 goals a game. Both have top 10 defenses. The Wild and Blues just played one another, they know one another pretty well as they play often. I think that lends itself to more defense than offense. For about 50 minutes that game was all defense. I see that happening again without a barrage of fluky goals for 10 minutes straight. I’ll be on the UNDER 5 tonight after a wacky day of action in the NHL playoffs last night.
PICK: UNDER 5 GOALS (-110) 5DIMES – BEST ODDS