NHL FREE PICKS

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NHL Picks: June 18

By Michael Harty

The Stanley Cup Finals dream matchup certainly lived up to the hype in Game 1, as we needed Overtime to crown a winner. Last year, hockey fans had to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning toy around with the Montreal Canadians for 5 Games with little to no entertainment value. Fast forward a year later, and boy are we gonna have a series on our hands. Colorado used the energy of the crowd and put their blazing speed on display early to jump out to a quick 2-0 lead. The Champs rallied in the second period to score two quick ones of their own to tie the game at 3, showing time and time again the resiliency that has won them 11 straight series. Game 2 on a Saturday night, what more can you ask for? Let’s dive into it.

The Lightning got a big boost to their lineup as Brayden Point returned to action after missing rounds 2 and 3. He appeared to get his full workload as he played just under 18 minutes registering 1 assist in the process. It’s uncertain just how healthy he really is, as we can only speculate on what the injury was. We will see if that extra day between games helps him out. While he certainly didn’t cost them the game, Andrei Vasilevsky was clearly not his usual self that we’ve become so used to seeing over the course of this dominant run. Given up 2 questionable goals, it will be interesting to see how he rebounds for Game 2. Everyone will bring up his stats following a loss, but the Rangers ended up breaking that absurd winning streak, and I think Colorado can follow that trend as well. Although it was only a 5 game sample size (now 6) the team Vasy has struggled against the most in his entire career in Colorado, owning a sub .900 save percentage. The Avs can not afford to let the Lightning steal one on home ice heading back to Amalie Arena.

Colorado, like they’ve done all year, used their speed and skill to fly through the neutral zone and put the Lightning defenceman on their heels early. While the Nichushkin goal may be one that Vasy wants back, it was still created through a relentless forecheck and speed through the neutral zone. Figuring out how to slow down Mackinnon and Co will be paramount for Lightning's success in this series. Although Tampa has no issues giving up shots from the outside, given their goaltender it's a dangerous recipe if you let this young skilled Avs team hem you in your own zone. Like the Leafs, the Avs high octane offence can give you fits off the rush but also in your own defensive end.

Coach Jon Cooper came out and said that the Lightning “didn’t deserve to win” and I agree with that statement. The Avalanche set the tempo from start to finish. While many believe the Lightning will respond simply because they have in the past, I’m not buying it. This Avalanche team is for real, and I think they make a big statement tonight.

RECOMMENDED WAGER: COLORADO AVALANCHE MONEYLINE (-143) at Sports Interaction

Although it’s not a great price, I would consider taking some Brayden Point U2.5 Shots on Goal as well (-161) at Caesars, as I’m not sold he’s 100%. 0 Shot Attempts in Game 1 and poor 5v5 metrics.

One of betstamp’s largest brand values is transparency. Whether you are looking to tail or fade my picks, or potentially just like reading the breakdowns, you can find my full documented betting record here. Best of luck with your bets today.

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