NHL FREE PICKS
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NHL Picks: June 04
The Edmonton Oilers head home to host the Colorado Avalanche in dire need of a win to have any hope of turning this series around. After a track meet in Game 1, Game 2 was much more like the playoff hockey we’ve become accustomed to over the years. The Avalanche was able to hold the trio of McDavid, Draistal and Kane off the scoresheet which is no easy task. It goes without saying that if the Oilers have any hopes of coming back in this series they will need to get a game-breaking type performance from 97.
The Oilers’ potent offense ran dry in game 2 after scoring 6 in Game 1. Avs backup goalie Pavel Francouz stopped all 24 shots that came his way. While getting a shutout in this stage of the playoffs is impressive, Francouz didn’t have too heavy of a workload. The Avalanche held the Oilers to 1.06 XGoals, and more impressively held Connor McDavid to a negative XGoal Differential when he was on the ice. One play that really stood out for the viewers was when early in the first period McDavid was barreling down, full steam on Norris Finalist Cale Makar. Makar simply backpedalled, pivoted and poked the puck away. Making it look as if it was a routine play, on a routine player. I think this play made it abundantly clear even for those who don’t follow the Avalanche closely that Makar is a World Class player.
Mike Smith, who for whatever reason has had the yips in Game 1’s throughout the playoffs, bounced back and played a solid game. While I think he will remain in net for Game 3, it would be interesting to see if Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft elects to spark his group and switch to Koskinen. The Avalanche after a scoreless first opened the floodgates in the second and scored 3 goals in under 2 and a half minutes, basically putting the game away. Like he has all year, the always controversial Nazem Kadri led the way and had a monster game. Registering 3 assists, and having the highest contributing XGoal share of any player on the ice, the Oilers will have to make him a focal point in their defensive plans. Given the switch to home-ice, it will be curious to see who Woodcroft elects to put out against the Kadri trio. Whoever it is, will have to do something about the 22 shot attempts that have been generated over the 2 games in Denver.
Given that level of volume, I’m going to go back to the well and back Kadri to register OVER 3.5 shots, he’s cleared this number in back-to-back games. Even with the last change on the road, I’m not overly concerned. His 11 attempts in both games give us plenty of opportunity to have 4 land on the net.
RECOMMENDED WAGER: Nazem Kadri OVER 3.5 Shots on Goal (-111) at bet365
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