NHL FREE PICKS

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NHL Picks: May 21

by Michel Harty

With only one game on the slate today, we head to St. Louis where the Blues and Avalanche will play Game 3 at the Enterprise Center. Coming off a shockingly dominant win in Game 2, the Blues look to reclaim home-ice advantage against the Western Conference powerhouse.

After breezing through Nashville in the opening round, the Avalanche finally got their first test of adversity in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. In all 5 of their previous wins, the Avalanche controlled the play, they outchanced, and rightfully outscored their opponent. Game 2 wasn’t a result of poor puck luck or a bad bounce, they simply got outplayed. When you dig deep into the numbers, this game turned out exactly as it should have. St. Louis finished the game with a XGoal share advantage of 4.68 to 1.38. When you look at the even strength numbers, it's even more telling as Colorado failed to register a XGoal Share of 1. For a team with that kind of fire power, it’s quite the shocking result. The trio of Mackinnon, Rantanen and Nichuskin were held in check, which won't happen on too many nights. Blues Goaltender Jordan Binnington, who had a lackluster regular season to say the least, has seemingly found his groove. Hockey fans famously remember Binningtons “Do I look nervous?” interview from the 2019 cup run. That confidence and swagger that forced the Blues to sign the goaltender to a lengthy contract is back in a big way, as he is top 3 in both save percentage and goals against average in these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With the series now returning to St. Louis, head coach Craig Berube will have the luxury of getting last change. This is a massive advantage when you can now match elite two way center Ryan O’Reilly anytime the Avs put out the Mackinnon trio. The O’Reilly line, which is flanked by David Perron and Pavel Buchnevich led the way in Game 2 with an XGoal differential of 0.54 according to MoneyPuck.com. With O’Reilly all but certain to get the Mackinnon matchup, that leaves Nazem Kadri and Garbiel Landeskog who will look to pick up the scoring with the more favourable matchup. In Game 2, that line generated 12 shot attempts compared to 4 against, they will need to be just as good if not better for the Avalanche here in these next 2 games to help take pressure off of Nathan Mackinnon.

While St. Louis will have the matchup edge and the crowd behind them, I can’t say I feel very confident in a repeat performance. This Colorado team is far too talented to lay another egg in a Cup or bust year. I am also still skeptical of the Jordan Binnington revenge tour that seems to be taking place right now. Given how poorly a regular season he had, which included losing the starting job, I think the Avalanche will find of way solving him early and often. Not that a team like this needs any more motivation, but Mackinnon seemingly challenged his group with his post game comments after Game 2. Look for a motivated Avalanche team to come out and dominate like they have all season.

RECCOMENDED WAGER: AVALANCHE 3 WAY MONEYLINE (+105) at bet365

OTHER RECCOMENDED WAGERS:

-Nazem Kadri OVER 3.5 Shots on Goal (+120) at bet365

Kadri trio will be getting the more favourable matchup. Generated 5 attempts last game, and 14 in Game 1. Look for Kadri to keep firing as he has all season long.

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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