Stanley Cup Playoffs: Tuesday’s NHL betting preview

 

It’s a very busy Tuesday in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with three great conference semifinal games on the board. We break down all the action on the ice in our betting preview.

Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Islanders (A: -105, H: -105, O/U: 5)

Series tied 1-1

The New York Islanders look to hold on to home-ice advantage in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 3 at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night. The Islanders captured the first of two contests in Tampa 5-3 before being outshot 26-8 in the final two periods of a 4-1 defeat in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s disappointing when you get that first one that you can’t go out and do it again,” New York center Frans Nielsen told reporters. “But I think going (to Tampa), we would have taken it coming back 1-1. Going home to our building, it’s going to be a different story.” Islanders captain John Tavares said his team needs to find a way to get second and third opportunities on Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. Tampa Bay was much sharper defensively in Game 2 and got two goals from Tyler Johnson, who took over the team lead with 10 points. “That’s one game. We need three more,” Johnson told reporters. “It’s gonna be loud, going to be hard to play in, but we know what we need to do.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS

PROBABLE GOALIES:

Lightning – Ben Bishop (W/L: 5-2, GAA: 2.01, SAVE %: .927)

Islanders – Thomas Greiss (W/L: 5-3, GAA: 2.06, SAVE %: .927)

MATCHUP CHART:

 

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (51-33-5, 37-52 ATS, 36-41 O/U): Right wing Nikita Kucherov (six playoff goals) did not have a point in Game 2, but was a factor with a plus-2 rating while being reunited with linemates Ondrej Palat and Johnson. Jonathan Drouin, who looked as though he would never play with Tampa Bay again after a trade request and team suspension in midseason, boasts a goal and six assists to go along with 19 shots – third on the team — in the postseason. Forwards Erik Condra (upper body) and Mike Blunden (upper body) practiced Monday and defenseman Matt Carle (undisclosed) skated on his own.

ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (50-30-10, 38-52 ATS, 37-44 O/U): Tavares had a team-high three shots on goal in Game 2, but the Islanders did not get enough production throughout the forward corps and the line of Shane Prince-Brock Nelson-Ryan Strome was limited to one shot combined. Defenseman Ryan Pulock practiced on Monday and could return to the lineup in place of veteran blue-liner Marek Zidlicky while forward Josh Bailey (upper body) may draw back in as well. Defensemen Nick Leddy (28:31) and Travis Hamonic (27:03) lead the team in average ice time and have a combined plus-1 rating.

TRENDS:

* Lightning are 13-3 in their last 16 Conference Semifinals games.
* Islanders are 13-3 in their last 16 Tuesday games.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Lightning last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Lightning are 3-13 in the last 16 meetings in New York.

San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators (A: +100, H: -120, O/U: 5)

Sharks lead series 2-0

Trailing 2-0 in their second-round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks, heading home for Tuesday night’s Game 3 might not prove to be that much of an advantage for the Nashville Predators. Not only did the Predators lose twice at home in their first-round series versus Anaheim, but they are facing an opponent that posted the league’s best road record.

Not only did the Sharks go 28-10-3 away from home during the regular season, but they also won all three games in Los Angeles in their first-round series. San Jose has scored seven of its eight goals against Nashville in the third period, including three empty-netters, fueling the Predators’ optimism that the series is far from over. “No one’s hitting the panic button in here or anything,” Nashville center Ryan Johansen said. “There’s still a lot of hockey to be played. We know it’s going to be challenging and they know it’s going to be challenging.” Nashville did stave off elimination in the opening round with a big victory in Game 6 at Bridgestone Arena before ousting the Ducks in Anaheim.

TV: 9 p.m. ET, USA, Sportsnet 360, TVAS

PROBABLE GOALIES:

Sharks – Martin Jones (W/L: 6-1, GAA: 2.13, SAVE %: .918)

Predators – Pekka Rinne (W/L: 4-5, GAA: 2.48, SAVE % .909)      

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE SHARKS (52-30-7, 42-47 ATS, 45-35 O/U): San Jose goaltender Martin Jones had been flying under the radar in the postseason, but he outplayed former mentor Jonathan Quick in the opening round and is coming off a 37-save performance in Game 2 against Nashville. “I thought they were better than us for the majority of that game,” said Sharks center Logan Couture, who has three goals in the first two games. “A lot of guys didn’t bring their best effort tonight, and we got bailed out by Jonesy making some big saves.” The power play continues to thrive for San Jose, converting on 3-of-5 chances against Nashville and producing eight man-advantage tallies in seven postseason games.

ABOUT THE PREDATORS (45-32-14, 39-52 ATS, 35-36 O/U): With the tandem of captain Shea Weber and Roman Josi leading the way, Nashville’s defensemen led the NHL by posting the most points (203) and goals (55) during the regular season. Fellow blue-liner Mattias Ekholm has been the most clutch performer in the playoffs, tying for the league lead among defensemen with three tallies and either tying the game or putting his team ahead with each of his goals. “It’s just the evolution of his game,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I don’t think it should surprise anybody that he’s got points or goals in the postseason. He’s a terrific defenseman that thinks the game offensively.”

TRENDS:

* Sharks are 5-1 in their last 6 games following a win.
* Predators are 0-4 in their last 4 Conference Semifinals games.
* Under is 5-1-1 in Sharks last 7 Conference Semifinals games.
* Sharks are 1-6 in the last 7 meetings in Nashville.

Dallas Stars at St. Louis Blues (A: +115, H: -135, O/U: 5)

Series tied 1-1

The St. Louis Blues have benefited from working overtime against the Dallas Stars, venturing past regulation to earn three of their four wins in the regular-season series before drawing a split of the Western Conference second-round set in the same manner. After wresting away home-ice advantage, St. Louis looks to gain the upper hand in the series when it hosts Game 3 on Tuesday.

Captain David Backes celebrated his 32nd birthday in style on Sunday, scoring 10:58 into the extra session of the 4-3 triumph for his second overtime goal of the playoffs. “Jaromir Jagr in all his wisdom at 44 said, ‘Who cares who scores,’ and that’s the way we feel in this room,” Backes told reporters. “… We did our job, got one in their building, and now need to go home and play solid hockey for 60 minutes and start to establish our game.” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff refused to reveal if his goaltender carousel would take another turn for Game 3, as Kari Lehtonen yielded three goals on five shots before being replaced by Antti Niemi (19 saves). Ruff has consistently shuffled netminders following a difficult start, as Lehtonen won Games 1 and 2 in the first-round series versus Minnesota before faltering in the following contest – only to get the call after Niemi sputtered in Game 5.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet, TVAS

PROBABLE GOALIES:

Stars – Kari Lehtonen (W/L: 4-1, GAA: 2.45, SAVE %: .906)

Blues – Brian Elliott (W/L: 5-4, GAA: 2.38, SAVE % .930)      

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE STARS (55-24-11, 42-48 ATS, 49-39 O/U): Captain Jamie Benn is enjoying quite the postseason, assisting on one goal and scoring another with 2:36 remaining in the third period of Game 2 to extend his team-leading point total to 12 (five goals, seven assists). Cody Eakin set up all three of Dallas’ goals on Sunday to match Benn with seven assists in the playoffs, much to the pleasure of Ruff. “Really it’s the Cody Eakin I was looking for all year long,” Ruff told the team’s website on Monday. “His puck possession has been way up. What he’s done defensively while playing against top lines has been very good. He’s a step above where I had him in the regular season and he’s right where we need him to be to be effective as a team.”

ABOUT THE BLUES (54-27-10, 41-50 ATS, 36-42 O/U): Two-goal leads are proving to be anything but safe for St. Louis, which squandered that advantage for the second time in the playoffs on Sunday. The Blues jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first period of their Game 6 tilt versus Chicago in the first round, only to see the Blackhawks storm back with a vengeance and extend the series. “The worst lead in hockey is a two-goal lead,” coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters. “But it’s natural; you play the score. You don’t want to get caught, so you put a safety net up.”

TRENDS:

* Stars are 8-2 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Blues are 1-7 in their last 8 Conference Semifinals games.
* Over is 4-0-1 in Stars last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Under is 6-1-1 in Blues last 8 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in St. Louis.

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