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NHL ♦ Stanley Cup Playoffs ♦ Wednesday 4/20/16

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    “Stanley Cup Playoffs”

    Wednesday’s NHL betting preview

    Wednesday night gives us our first elimination game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Washington Capitals looking to put away the Philadelphia Flyers. In the other three games the Panthers, Wild, and Kings look to avoid going down three games to one.

    Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers (A: -175, H: +155, O/U: 5)

    Captials lead series 3-0

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Wednesday, April 20, 2016
    Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Washington Capitals are looking every bit like the team that set a franchise record for wins en route to capturing its second Presidents’ Trophy while the Philadelphia Flyers may be running on empty after motoring to the final wild-card spot following a 15-5-3 run. The Capitals aim to complete a sweep of a best-of seven series for the first time in franchise history on Wednesday when they play Game 4 of their first-round series in Philadelphia.

    Special teams continue to be the story of the series as Washington scored a staggering five times on the power play in Monday’s 6-1 victory in Game 3. The Capitals are 8-for-17 with the man advantage after the first three contests while the Flyers have failed on all 13 of their opportunities. Philadelphia, in fact, has solved Braden Holtby on only two occasions despite unleashing 93 shots on the front-runner for this season’s Vezina Trophy. The biggest scare for Holtby may have come during Tuesday’s practice as a collision with a teammate initially left him favoring his left leg, but coach Barry Trotz told reporters that the goaltender is expected to be in net for Game 4.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, CSN-DC (Washington), CSN Philadelphia

    Brooks Orpik has been ruled out of Wednesday’s contest by Trotz after the defenseman suffered an upper-body injury on a hit from Philadelphia fourth-liner Ryan White. “We just have to play strong, tough, physical and responsible. I mean, that’s what (Orpik) does every time he’s out there, so that’s how we’ll have to do it,” blue-liner Karl Alzner said of the group’s mindset of playing without Orpik, who missed 41 games this season with a lower-body injury. While Matt Niskanen and John Carlson have logged heavy minutes in the series, fellow defenseman Nate Schmidt is expected to see an uptick in ice time and either Mike Weber or Taylor Chorney will draw in the lineup on Wednesday.

    Philadelphia may be shuffling goaltenders after Steve Mason (0-3-0, .852 save percentage) allowed all six goals on Monday, this on the heels of permitting an unfathomable 101-foot tally in Game 2. “If I get the call I’m going to be ready and I’ll try to enjoy it and help my teammates,” backup Michal Neuvirth told reporters on Tuesday. The 28-year-old has only played in two games since March 5, but his 18 wins this season were his most since recording 27 with Washington in 2010-11.


    * Capitals are 4-0 in their last 4 Conference Quarterfinals games.
    * Flyers are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
    * Under is 5-1-1 in Capitals last 7 games following a win.
    * Over is 7-1-3 in Flyers last 11 following a loss of 3 or more goals.
    * Capitals are 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.


    1. Philadelphia F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will sit out Wednesday’s tilt after being suspended one game for his dangerous check from behind on Washington D Dmitry Orlov during Game 3.

    2. Holtby, who recorded an assist in Game 3, has one more point in the series than Flyers captain Claude Giroux (team-leading 67 points in regular season) and RW Wayne Simmonds (career-high 32 goals this season).

    3. The Flyers are one of four NHL teams to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. Philadelphia, which upended Boston in a 2010 second-round series, is joined by Toronto (1942), the New York Islanders (1975) and Los Angeles (2014) in that group.

    PREDICTION: Capitals 5, Flyers 1


    Florida Panthers at New York Islanders (A: -110, H: -110, O/U: 5)

    Islanders lead series 2-1

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Wednesday, April 20, 2016
    Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

    The New York Islanders only need to look back to their first-round loss to Washington in 2015 in an effort to avoid getting ahead of themselves in this year’s set with the Florida Panthers. Both playoff series have followed the same path in the early going, with the Islanders splitting a pair on the road and claiming an overtime victory in the third contest heading into Wednesday’s Game 4 against the visiting Panthers.

    “All of us have been through it another year, and that experience goes a long way,” said captain John Tavares, who set up a pair of tallies in New York’s 4-3 overtime win on Sunday to extend his point streak to seven games (six goals, nine assists). “It’s amazing how much more you understand the ebbs and flows of a playoff series, game to game, day to day, even period to period. I think we’re just well prepared.” The Islanders need to up the ante on their preparation for Florida’s Reilly Smith, who has recorded eight points (four goals, four assists) in the series – including three (one goal, two assists) in Game 3. “Reilly was awesome,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “Every game, that line’s been real good for us. He’s contributed big time and put pucks in the net.”

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, USA, SN, TVAS2, FSN Florida, MSG-Plus (New York)

    While Gallant praised the second line of Smith, Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen, the coach was quick to compliment the top line of Jaromir Jagr, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau as well. “They’re playing well, they’re working hard, they’re getting all kinds of chances, so what can you do?” Gallant said of the three players, who have combined for just four points (one goal, three assists). Although Jagr recorded 27 goals and a team-high 66 points in the regular season, the future Hall of Famer has not scored in his last 34 playoff games and has been held without a point in each contest of the series.

    Thomas Hickey didn’t just give New York the upper hand in the series on Sunday, the defenseman also made history by becoming the lone player in franchise history to score both his first career regular-season goal and first playoff tally in overtime. Rookie blue-liner Ryan Pulock also netted his first postseason goal in Game 3 and followed that up with an assist on Shane Prince’s tally six minutes later. “I think at this point right now, this is the best I’ve felt,” Pulock told the team’s website. “Every game you get more comfortable, more confident … to be able to play here quite a bit lately, it’s really helped with that.”


    * Panthers are 1-4 in their last 5 Conference Quarterfinals games.
    * Islanders are 8-1 in their last 9 Wednesday games.
    * Over is 5-0-1 in Panthers last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
    * Over is 4-0 in Islanders last 4 home games.
    * Over is 6-0-1 in the last 7 meetings in New York.


    1. New York RW Kyle Okposo set up a pair of tallies in Game 3 and has two goals and nine assists in his last seven contests.

    2. Florida C Vincent Trocheck (foot) practiced on Tuesday but will not play in Game 4, Gallant told reporters.

    3. The Islanders are 7-2 in series in which they held a 2-1 advantage, losing only to Toronto in 1978 and Washington last year.

    PREDICTION: Islanders 4, Panthers 2


    Dallas Stars at Minnesota Wild (A: -120, H: +100, O/U: 5)

    Stars lead series 2-1

    When: 9:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 20, 2016
    Where: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

    Having withstood a potential knockout blow in their first game on their home ice, the Minnesota Wild used a stirring comeback to climb back into their Western Conference first-round series against the Dallas Stars. Buoyed by an offensive eruption, the Wild look to knot the series when they host Dallas in Wednesday’s Game 4.

    Minnesota appeared on the verge of a quick ouster after falling behind by a pair of goals in the first 4:10 of Game 3, particularly since it scored a combined one goal in a pair of losses at Dallas. “We threw the kitchen sink at them,” forward Erik Haula said after the Wild responded with four unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 victory on Monday night. The top-seeded Stars wilted after their fast start and managed only 17 shots on goal. “That might have been our worst game of the year,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said after his team lost for only the third time in 14 contests.

    TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, Sportsnet 360, TVAS 3, FSN Southwest (Dallas), FSN North/Wisconsin (Minnesota)

    Patrick Sharp, who won three Stanley Cups in the previous six seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, scored twice Monday to stake Dallas to the early lead but called it “an opportunity lost” following Tuesday’s practice session. Stars captain Jamie Benn sat out practice for what Ruff termed a maintenance day while defenseman Kris Russell returned to practice after missing Game 3 due to illness, but it remains uncertain if he will be back in the lineup. Although Kari Lehtonen has started the first three games in net, there remains the possibility of Ruff turning to Antti Niemi, who matched Lehtonen with 25 wins.

    Minnesota coach John Torchetti challenged some of his veteran players to step up their games and he got the desired response as captain Mikko Koivu scored for only the third time in 31 postseason games and Jason Pominville supplied a pair of tallies and an assist. “We could’ve easily stepped back and folded and not responded,” said Pominville, who netted the go-ahead tally before sealing the victory with an empty-net goal. “But we kept pushing and wanted more.” Forward Thomas Vanek participated in Tuesday’s optional skate but will remain sidelined along with leading goal scorer Zach Parise.


    * Stars are 8-2 in their last 10 overall.
    * Wild are 1-7 in their last 8 overall.
    * Under is 4-1 in Stars last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.
    * Over is 8-1 in Wild last 9 when their opponent allows 5 goals or more in their previous game.
    * Over is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in Minnesota.


    1. Benn has at least one point in 11 straight games versus Minnesota.

    2. Pominville’s two tallies on Monday snapped a 13-game goalless drought.

    3. Dallas is 1-for-13 on the power play in the series.

    PREDICTION: Wild 3, Stars 2 (OT)


    Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks (A: +100, H: -120, O/U: 5)

    Sharks lead series 2-1

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Wednesday, April 20, 2016
    Where: SAP Center at San Jose, San Jose, California

    With another historic comeback no longer necessary, the Los Angeles Kings attempt to even their first-round series when they visit the San Jose Sharks for a pivotal Game 4 on Wednesday. Los Angeles opened the matchup by dropping a pair of one-goal decisions at home and were in danger of needing its second rally from an 0-3 deficit versus San Jose in three years before Tanner Pearson scored 3:47 into overtime Monday to keep the club from being pushed to the brink of elimination.

    “It was just about cutting the series in half tonight,” Kings captain Dustin Brown, who assisted on Pearson’s winning goal, told reporters afterward. “That’s what our mindset was coming up here; we accomplished that tonight. Recover and reload for Game 4.” Despite keeping the Sharks off the board after Joe Thornton scored 30 seconds into Game 3, Jonathan Quick and company will need to be better from the drop of the first puck as San Jose has scored on its first shot in each of the first three contests. That has made taking a lead very difficult as Los Angeles has been ahead for a total of only 4 minutes, 2 seconds through the first three games. The Sharks outshot the Kings 23-11 after the first period but continued to struggle at home, where they went 18-20-3 during the regular season.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, USA, CBC, TVA, FSN West (Los Angeles), CSN California (San Jose)

    Los Angeles was superb on the penalty kill in Game 3, keeping San Jose — which ranked third on the power play during the regular season (22.5 percent) — scoreless on five opportunities after allowing two goals on nine chances during the first two contests. “We found a way,” Brown told reporters. “(Quick) made some big saves, blocked shots, couple bobbled pucks on their side — breaks that we needed to get, and that was probably the difference in the game, our PK.” Drew Doughty has yet to record a point in the series but continues to log an extraordinary amount of ice time, playing over 29 minutes in each of the first two games before seeing 35:01 of action Monday.

    Joe Pavelski was kept off the scoresheet in Game 3 for the first time in the series and held to just one shot on goal. The captain recorded three goals and an assist in the first two games after registering four tallies and 10 points in the five regular-season meetings between the Pacific Division rivals. Thornton’s goal on Monday was his 102nd career postseason point, breaking a tie with Scott Gomez and Hall-of-Famer Bernie Federko for 86th place on the all-time list.


    * Kings are 1-4 in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
    * Sharks are 10-2 in their last 12 after scoring 2 goals or less in their previous game.
    * Over is 6-1-2 in Kings last 9 Wednesday games.
    * Under is 12-3-1 in Sharks last 16 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
    * Road team is 7-1 in the last 8 meetings.


    1. Sharks D Paul Martin entered Tuesday leading all players this postseason with 13 blocked shots — one more than Doughty and Chicago’s Niklas Hjalmarsson.

    2. The Kings are 6-10 when trailing 2-1 in a best-of-seven series.

    3. San Jose has lost three straight home playoff meetings with Los Angeles dating to their 2014 first-round showdown.

    PREDICTION: Kings 3, Sharks 2



    NY Islanders-Florida (NYI 2-1)
    Islanders scored 12:31 into OT to grab 2-1 series lead, after they came into series on 1-4 skid against Florida. Panthers split last six visits here. Islanders lost three of last five home games; over is 6-1-1 in their last eight games overall. Panthers won six of last nine games (over 6-3-1 in last ten)- they won three of last five road games. So far in series, NY is 3-9 on power play, Florida 1-7; Panthers were shut out in third period/OT in Game 3, their first scoreless period of series.

    Philadelphia-Washington (W 3-0)
    Flyers have been outscored 12-2 in losing first three series games; they outshot Caps 41-20 in the first period in series, but lost poise in Gasme 3 at home and gave up four goals on 13 shots. Caps scored five power play goals in total of 18:14 with man advantage. Philly is 0-13 on power play in series, Caps lost three of last five visits here- home side won four of last five series games. Under is 6-3-2 in the last eleven series games, 3-2 in last five played here.

    Minnesota-Dallas (D 2-1)
    Minnesota lost six of last eight games against Dallas- Stars won three of last four visits to Twin Cities. Minnesota lost seven of last eight games overall, outscored 25-12- they scored five goals in Game 3, after scoring total of seven in previous seen games; under is 5-2-3 in their last 10 games. Dallas won eight of last ten games; six of their last eight stayed under. Stars had only 17 shots on goal in Game 3, after having 32-28 in first two games. Dallas is 1-12 on power play (Minnesota is 2-9).

    San Jose-Los Angeles (SJ 2-1)
    Road team won first three series games. San Jose is 7-6 in last 13 series games; road team went 9-4 in those games- Kings won four of last five visits here. Over is 4-2-2 in last eight tilts in series. San Jose won seven of last ten games; five of last seven stayed under. Kings are 5-8 in last 13 games. Sharks are 2-14 on power play in series, Kings 3-11. LA had only five shots on goal in 23:47 of third period and OT, but fifth one found back of net. total of six goals were scored in last two games.

    Playoffs tally: Home: 13-13, Over: 9-8-9


    Hockey Crusher

    Dallas Stars + Minnesota Wild – OVER 5
    (System Record: 72-6, lost last game)
    Overall Record: 72-86-24

    Florida Panthers -103 over New York Islanders

    Los Angeles Kings +105 over San Jose Sharks



    1000* Play Washington -165 over Philadelphia

    1000* Play Florida +120 over New York Islanders



    500* Play Florida +120 over New York Islanders

    500* Play Dallas -110 over Minnesota

    500* Play Los Angeles +120 over San Jose



    Play Florida +120 over New York Islanders

    Play Los Angeles +120 over San Jose



    Sports Insurance Adjusters

    Washington vs Philadelphia
    Over 5 -110



    Game: Dallas Stars (19) @ Minnesota Wild (20)
    Time: Wednesday 04/20 9:35 PM Eastern
    Pick: Minnesota +109 (moneyline)
    A young Dallas team is fortunate to be up 2-1, after a 2-1 win at home in Game 2 and then getting clobbered the last game 5-3. Dallas is on the road again, a young team that is short on defense and is playing only its second postseason series in the past eight years. Dallas has unraveled in the defensive zone for sustained stretches this season, including the last game, ranking #19 in the league in goals allowed. The Stars blew a 2-0 lead in Game 3, going nearly 50 minutes without scoring as the Wild controlled the action, finishing with a 25-17 shots-on-goal advantage. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen had only 20 saves on 24 tries, while Minnesota veteran goalie Dubnyk stopped 14 of 17 shots. The Wild’s interim coach John Torchetti put forwards Kurtis Gabriel and Zac Dalpe on the fourth line and scratched Ryan Carter and Jarret Stoll. Torchetti has been calling for more crashing the net, and the Wild came through, winning the battle of hits and face-offs. Minnesota has the far better defense (ninth in goals allowed), is on an 8-4 run at home in the postseason, plus 10-5 when playing on one day of rest. With the home team 40-16 when these teams clash, grab the home dog and play on Minnesota in Game 4.



    Dallas Stars (-120)
    9:30 ET



    4* San Jose Sharks ML (-120)

    3* Florida Panthers at New York Islanders – UNDER -5 (+110)

    3* Washington Capitals ML (-165)



    4* Florida Panthers



    Capitals / Flames
    OVER 5

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