NHL FREE PICKS

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NHL Picks: May 23

By Michael Spiegel

We’ve got two exciting game fours to look forward to tonight, including a potential elimination game. Tonight, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the opportunity to sweep their way into the Eastern Conference Finals on home ice.

The first three games of this ‘Battle of Florida’ matchup have been quite surprising to some. Going into this second-round matchup, not many would have picked the series underdog, Lightning, to have a 3-0 stranglehold over the President’s Trophy winning Florida Panthers. 

The final scores of the first three games of this series don’t tell the full story. Let’s break down the three games that have led to this sweep opportunity for the Lightning. 

Game 1: Lightning 4 – Panthers 1

Game one was a fairly even affair. After the Lightning tied the game late in the second, they carried that momentum over to the third where they took a 2-1 lead. The score remained the same until Tampa got two powerplay markers with less than five minutes to play. A much more even game than the score reflects.

Game 2: Lightning 2 – Panthers 1

Florida looked to have the edge in game two and we looked to be heading to our first overtime of the series. With the game tied at 1, Ross Colton buried his fifth of the playoffs with just under four seconds left in regulation. If the Panthers do get swept tonight, this might have been the backbreaker. 

Game 3: Lightning 5 – Panthers 1

Two empty netters make this game look a lot worse than it was. The Panthers, known for their miraculous multi-goal comebacks, trailed 3-1 going into the third period. However, Vasilevskiy continued to shut the door, stopping all fifteen shots he faced in the third. While the Lightning played well, Vasilevskiy definitely helped them secure the win in this one, stopping 34 of 35 shots. 

While the games may be more even than the score shows, there’s a clear trend. The Panthers haven’t solved Vasilevskiy. Only tallying 1 goal in each of the first three games is a cause for concern for this Panthers lineup. A team that thrived on their offence in the regular season, and led the NHL in goals for, is now being shut down. After averaging over 4 goals per game in the regular season, they are now averaging less than 3 in the playoffs. Despite this, this series has been much closer than the score may dictate.

It's looking like bad news for the Panthers, as the Lightning are looking to sweep the President’s trophy winners, something that they know all too well as they were put in this situation in 2019. Both teams are going to be desperate to win tonight. The Lightning are going to want to put the Panthers down and not allow them to salvage any hope with a win tonight. The Panthers on the other hand are trying to stave off elimination at the hands of their Florida foes. 

I think we are going to get the closest game of the series so far tonight, with it potentially heading to overtime. There’s tremendous value in the regulation time result for this game, and that’s why I’m picking this game to head to overtime.

Pick: Tie - ML Regulation Time +339 (theScore Bet)

Other notable bets:

Avalanche @ Blues: Blues ML +148 (Sports Interaction): The St. Louis Blues’ hopes ride on the shoulders of Ville Husso after Jordan Binnington suffered a lower-body injury in game 3 that will sideline him for the remainder of the second round. Husso has struggled since his shutout performance in game 1 of the playoffs. He has proved throughout this season that he is a high-calibre goaltender who can help steal games for his squad. He will have to bring back his mid-season form that helped him steal the crease from Binnington if the Blues are to have a chance against the Avs. 

Panthers/Lightning over 6.5 +105 (BetRivers): I think the Panthers don’t go down in this series without a fight. I think they’ll be able to steal a game off of the two-time Stanley Cup champions tonight. While history may not be on their side, I think the Panthers win this one 4-3 in overtime, hitting the over on total goals.

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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