NHL playoff picks: 4 best bets for Saturday
Andrew Berkshire provides his best NHL picks and predictions for Saturday's action.
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It’s the second-to-last day of the first round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. We have three series that have gone the distance and now have six teams hanging on the edge of the knife, facing elimination. This is why you play the game, this is what you grind it out for over 82 regular season games. If you can’t be ready for Game 7, what’s the point? For one team playing today, Game 7s have haunted them since 2013, losing in an all-or-nothing do-or-die game in the first round five times in their last six playoff appearances. Is this the day all of that changes?
In a series that has been dominated by the home team, of course the home team is going to be heavily favoured heading into Game 7, but Game 7 is a whole different animal.
Overall in this series, the Bruins have held a marked advantage in play at even strength, while the Hurricanes have been better on special teams. Combine everything together and the Bruins come out marginally better, but I really do mean marginally.
This game could easily go either way, but the Bruins have the more experienced team, and the bigger payout.
In a series that has been characterized by game-to-game swings of momentum and blowouts both ways, the last two games have been properly tight battles that we expect to see in the playoffs.
I expect to see more of the same Saturday night, with the Leafs finally playing composed hockey in a winner-takes-all situation, and the Lightning being an incredibly difficult team to take down.
You either die a playoff choker, or your team runs it back enough times for you to become the playoff hero. Mitch Marner is living his Pavel Datsyuk in 2007 moment right now. Datsyuk went three years after his rookie year failing to score a single goal in the playoffs, before putting up eight goals and eight assists in 18 games.
Marner has seven points in six game so far, including two goals to burst a goal drought that spanned three seasons, and maybe more importantly than that, he’s played incredible on the penalty kill to keep the Leafs from suffering too much from all the penalties they take.
Marner has worn the goat horns for taking dumb penalties in Game 7 in years past, now is the time he makes up for it all.
On home ice, the Oilers have a chance to put this series behind them, and they should be able to use that home ice advantage to get Connor McDavid away from Phillip Danault. Reuniting Draisaitl and McDavid has been suggested as a way to ignite the clearly injured Draisaitl. Whether that’s the best move is debatable, but it should create some scoring.
Another good sign for the Oilers is that McDavid looked like a man possessed in their last game, and if he carries that over to this one, the Kings are unlikely to stop him.