NHL FREE PICKS

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NHL Picks: June 15

By Mitchell Blair

The final quest for hockey’s holy grail is about to get underway and what a battle it should be.  There is no Cinderella team this year as Tampa takes on Colorado.  

I understand how and why the Avalanche are favoured, but I really like the Lightning. This series reminds me a lot of the first time the Oilers played the Islanders in the 80’s. Edmonton was cocky enough to think they were going to win, but they found out what was needed to do that as the Islanders weren’t ready to pass the torch.  

Yes, Colorado has more talented players offensively than what Tampa had to deal with in the Rangers, but let’s remember that another offensively gifted team in the Florida Panthers couldn’t do anything against them. The Lightning have a lot of success because of the work behind their blueline. The Avalanche need to find a way to generate some offence, but Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and the rest of the Tampa defence corps have shown they can clog down and neutralize a talented forward group.  

The Avalanche also need to find a way to solve Andrei Vasilevskiy. Sorry Colorado, this isn’t David Rittich, Connor Ingram, Ville Husso, Mike Smith or Mikko Koskinen, this is the best goaltender the NHL has and he is quickly becoming one of the best all-time. Unless Colorado is bringing a vintage Patrick Roy back, they simply don’t have the goaltending Tampa has in this series. In fact, I think if Tampa is successful in winning the Stanley Cup for the 3rd straight year, Vasilevskiy will get the Conn Smythe Trophy. You can find great value on that at Sports Interaction at +377 by the way.

So you can understand why I really like Tampa to take this series. Colorado has had a long time to get ready for this series after finishing off Edmonton in four straight. I took the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final because I thought Tampa might be suffering from some rink rust and kick the puck around. I see that happening in Game 1, but it will be to the Lightning’s advantage this time.  

In a series this close, I can’t believe the number for the Lightning on the Moneyline. I am all over Tampa in Game 1.  

PICK: Tampa at +135 at bet365

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