There are four games on the docket tonight. Let’s take a look at the top NHL playoff predictions.
|Capitals vs Maple Leafs
ML -150 / +130
|Senators vs Bruins
ML +145 / -165
|Wild vs Blues
ML -115 / -105
|Ducks vs Flames
ML -110 / -110
Here are tonight’s starting goaltenders, courtesy of LeftWingLock.
Capitals vs Maple Leafs: Washington, much to their surprise, is down 2-1 to the young Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs rode an incredible atmosphere and a few fortunate bounces to an overtime victory at the Air Canada Centre Monday night. All three games have now been decided by overtime in this series.
Well, at least Washington fans and media are handling this with calmness and-
Well, at least the Caps made the front page…. pic.twitter.com/wUi4PHcqGv
— Eric Fingerhut (@ericfingerhut) April 19, 2017
PANIC EVERYBODY PANIC OH GOD.
In fairness, there is reason to be uneasy about the Capitals’ chances. After all, the Leafs now have a taste of what it is like to win a playoff game in their own building. If you give a mouse a cookie and all that. It was their first time beating a team with a winning road record in quite some time.
A team with the greatest of expectations entering this postseason has lost the momentum of the series. How many overtime body blows can they take and keep moving forward?
Both teams have received bad news in the injury department of late. Karl Alzner missed Game 3, the first game he has missed since 2010. Alzner will miss Game 4 as well. On the opposite side’s blueline, Roman Polak has been deemed out for the season as he needs surgery on his leg.
Alzner’s absence hurts from a depth standpoint, but he and John Carlson have been undressed by the Auston Matthews line all series. Alzner’s replacement Nate Schmidt fared no better. Matthews’ trio has most frequently gone up against Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson and has dominated.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) April 18, 2017
Answers need to be found in the Capitals’ camp. The ball is entirely in their court. Even if they go down 3-1, they will still have two home games to reclaim the series. But that kind of pressure could cause the great Washington machine to implode. And a potential series-deciding Game 6 in Toronto would be a nightmare of an environment.
Because I believe the series is going the distance, I’m going with the Capitals tonight to even up the score. With that said, if people wanted to take advantage of the Leafs being home underdogs tonight and cash in on a potential victory, I can’t say I would blame them.
But it’s the playoffs and I’m going with my gut.
Prediction: Take the Capitals to win. Play the over.
Senators vs Bruins: Boston, like Washington, suffered a brutal overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Though they were down 3-0, the Bruins fought back with three unanswered goals in the second period to even up the score. Their depth players were contributing. Charlie McAvoy got his first point as an NHLer, as the powerplay quarterback in the playoffs no less.
But once again, it would not take long for the Senators to capitalize in overtime. While on the powerplay, Erik Karlsson shrugged off an oncoming check from Dominic Moore behind the net. With time and space, he looked up ice and found a streaking Bobby Ryan. He hit him in stride with a stretch pass and he and Turris played pitch-and-catch before Ryan buried the game-winner past Rask.
Karlsson’s tremendous vision makes this play a possibility. He recognizes that the Bruins are going in for a defensive change and takes advantage of the newfound space. Marchand the winger is still at the redline. The other defenseman is turned around and will not have the speed to catch Ryan or Turris.
This powerplay occurred because of a missed call on Bobby Ryan, which NBC’s Pierre McGuire pointed out.
You don't often hear Pierre McGuire get this fired up, but he's not wrong pic.twitter.com/f1UjENtvhM
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 18, 2017
Liberties were taken on both sides. Dion Phaneuf had a pretty egregious slash on David Backes earlier in the game. After the game, Bruins fans threw trash at the Senators as they entered the tunnel. One of them was even brave enough to try and steal Chris Wideman’s stick.
It didn’t go well.
Tough guy apparently can’t take a rap on the knuckles. My favorite part of the video is how after he gets whacked, he inspects his hand as if it were broken. Then he turns down the tunnel as if he’s going to talk tough to an NHL player. Sports fans are dumb sometimes.
Boston showed a lot of fight in the game, but did not dominate the third period the way they would have wanted to. The Senators made plenty of mistakes and lapses, and Boston had all the momentum on their side. It’s almost like they staged their comeback at the wrong time. Ottawa went to the locker room, made adjustments, and tightened up in the final 20 minutes to prevent the Bruins from completing the comeback.
The Sens have now won four in a row at the TD Garden.
Colin Miller may return tonight for the Bruins. Krug, Carlo and McQuaid are all out.
Boston will need to alter their offensive attack. Brad Marchand is clearly a marked man, as he has mustered only four shots on goal in his last two games. But the Senators have made plenty of miscues with the puck that the Bruins will need to pounce on. Ryan and goalie Craig Anderson both had pretty awful puck-handling mistakes.
Prediction: Calling teams to get swept at home is damn-near impossible. Take the Bruins to rebound tonight. Play the over.
Wild vs Blues: Oh, Minnesota.
What else is there really to say at this point? The Wild now find themselves down 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues. All of their success in the regular season will have been for naught. Bruce Boudreau will have mangled yet another playoff appearance. The Wild franchise will have bowed out prematurely for what the umpteenth time.
So will it happen tonight?
The Blues took it to the Wild early and it paid off in Game 3. Colton Parayko got the Blues on the board 3:25 into play. Though Charlie Coyle was able to tie things up in the second period, Jaden Schwartz answered back just moments later with a powerplay goal.
Alexander Steen iced the game with an empty-netter.
Mike Yeo’s system has flustered the Wild, which is the ultimate irony. The Blues are playing conservative hockey, setting up their neutral zone trap, forcing a dump and chase where the Wild are unable to get to the puck first, and relying on a limited number scoring chances.
And like the Mike Yeo-era Wild, Minnesota is unable to make adjustments.
The Wild have lost their last seven road games to teams with a winning record. They have lost nine of their last 10 after scoring two or fewer games.
I refuse to believe that this Wild team is going to go down this easily. I will call my shot and say the Wild respond with a 2-1 victory tonight.
Prediction: Take the Wild to cling to life tonight. Play the under.
Ducks vs Flames: Calgary has to be about as down as a team can be. After losing two heartbreakers in Anaheim, the Flames returned home and held a 4-1 lead over the Ducks. Winning out at home would get them back in the series.
But the Ducks would not die. Shea Theodore netted a powerplay goal in the final minute of the second period to give Anaheim life heading into the final frame. Then Nate Thompson brought them a step closer midway through the third. With under five minutes remaining, Theodore found the back of the net again to even up the score. The Flames were on their heels.
It took 90 seconds for Corey Perry to clinch the victory for the Ducks in overtime. And just like that, the Flames were down 3-0.
That’s a pill that’s hard to swallow for Calgary. I can’t imagine anyone slept well that night.
The Ducks have now won six of their last seven in Calgary.
John Gibson was yanked after allowing the fourth goal and Jonathan Bernier was a perfect 16-for-16 in relief. Gibson is expected to start Game 4, which is smart. No need for shakeups up 3-0.
Predicting a team to get swept when they are on their home ice is very hard to do. Columbus staved off a sweep on their home ice last night, as tough a task as that was. Plus, Anaheim will be without Sami Vatanen again tonight. Blowing a 4-1 lead is horrible, but there is a certain degree of “fluke” about it.
By the same token, recovering from blowing a 4-1 lead is a lot to ask. The Ducks have all the confidence in the world. The Flames have none.
Prediction: Take the Ducks to win. Play the over.
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