NHL betting tips: 4 picks and predictions for Wednesday
Our expert has picked out four teams to back on the money line as the first round of the NHL playoffs continues on Wednesday.
Boston Bruins to beat Washington Capitals
After evening up the series on the road on Monday, the Bruins capped a game that they had actually played really well in. They proved that they could get the big goals when they needed them, but also got back to their game.
It was a physical contest, but Boston owned the puck way more in Game 2 than they did in Game 1, controlling 58.8 per cent of the shot attempts at five-on-five in the game. They also dominated the high-danger scoring chances 17-7 at five-on-five against Washington.
Boston’s ability to re-establish those elements of their game, on top of getting the win and getting back to home ice are all key reasons I think Boston will manage to take their first lead in the series.
On top of that, even though he can be a scapegoat for fans, Tuukka Rask is the best goaltender in this series. He stopped 36 of 39 shots against in Game 2 and 29 of 32 in Game 1. There is also uncertainty in Washington’s goaltending situation - they were forced to go with Craig Anderson who turns 40 this weekend, while status of Ilya Samsonov and/or Vitek Vanecek remains unclear.
Anderson has done very well, but the Bruins really worked him out in Game 2, putting 48 shots on goal. Another effort like the one they had in Game 2 should allow Boston to earn the 2-1 series lead.
Carolina Hurricanes to beat Nashville Predators
Game 1 looked a lot closer than the 5-2 scoreline would indicate. Nashville gave Carolina quite a scare there for a bit, but the Hurricanes ultimately were able to pull away in the third period. Looking deeper at the numbers from Game 1, the Canes got the result they deserved.
They had significant edges in possession at all strengths and five-on-five, a considerable boost in expected goals at all strengths, scoring chances, high-danger scoring chances and high-danger goals for. Nashville is going to give Carolina all they can handle, but I think there is a pretty wide disparity between the two teams when it comes to overall depth.
Looking at the players that managed to step up in big moments for both teams, Carolina just has more players capable of making that impact. They also got some really strong goaltending from rookie Alex Nedeljkovic, who was making his first postseason start. He made 22 saves on 24 shots, carrying over his incredible play over the course of the regular season where he had a league-best .932 save percentage.
With the Hurricanes getting a huge boost on home ice from the fans that are now allowed in the building, it’s hard to see them not grabbing a 2-0 series advantage.
Edmonton Oilers to beat Winnipeg Jets
No team gave the Winnipeg Jets more trouble this season than the Edmonton Oilers. Winnipeg dropped seven of the nine games, all of which ended in regulation. While the numbers look ugly for Winnipeg, five of those nine games were decided by one goal including each of Winnipeg’s wins. The Jets also played the Oilers three times while they were in a late-season tailspin where things just weren’t going well.
The slate is wiped clean now, but that doesn’t mean the Jets will flip a switch and automatically be a better team. The Oilers have Connor McDavid (22) and Leon Draisaitl (12), who combined for 34 points over nine games in the season series and are both hungry for the postseason opportunity, especially after faltering in the bubble they hosted last playoffs, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the play-in round.
The biggest cause for concern for Winnipeg right now is that the status of forwards Nikolaj Ehlers and Pierre-Luc Dubois, both of whom are nursing injuries, and were termed as “game-time decisions” by Jets head coach Paul Maurice. Depth forward Andrew Copp also skated in a non-contact jersey. Those are significant absences if neither of those players can play.
I think all of the pressure is on Edmonton in this series, but if Winnipeg is playing shorthanded while missing their most impactful forward in Ehlers, I don’t know how well they can match up with the explosiveness of Edmonton’s top players. Connor Hellebuyck might have something to say about that, though.
Keep an eye on the status of Winnipeg’s forwards and if they’ll be in the lineup or not. That ultimately could sway things a little bit in terms of my confidence in this particular pick.
Colorado Avalanche to beat St. Louis Blues
I think the Blues are going to win a game in this series at some point. I don’t think it’s going to be this one, though.
Jordan Binnington kept Game 1 from getting out of control early, but couldn’t close it out all by himself. The Avalanche’s speed and skill throughout their lineup was a problem for St. Louis. It showed up in the numbers, too, as the Avalanche dominated the puck possession throughout Game 1, controlling over 60 per cent of the shot attempts at five-on-five, and pouring 50 shots on net while allowing just 23.
Colorado can beat you in so many ways with so many different players. From Nathan MacKinnon to Cale Makar to Mikko Rantanen, there’s so much elite talent on the roster. On top of that, they’ve gotten goaltending from Philipp Grubauer.
St. Louis didn’t have an answer in Game 1, aside from their goalie nearly stealing a game for them. Binnington has that capability, but it’s not something you’d generally want to rely on.
I fully expect St. Louis to have made adjustments in Game 2, but Colorado's speed and skill win out on home ice.