NHL Monday best bets: Don't expect fireworks in Tampa
It was a good weekend for our best bets. The Hurricanes came through in regulation Friday and the Avalanche followed it up with a win of their own on Saturday. The Panthers did not come through in Game 3, but we'll happily take two of three and look to keep things moving in the right direction with two plays for Monday's slate.
This series has been really weird. The Panthers have gotten the better of the chances at five-on-five, but Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning's abundance of willing shot-blockers have prevented Panthers players from cashing any of them in.
At the other end of the ice, the Lightning have been opportunistic, especially on the power play. They have scored more goals on the man advantage than the Panthers have across all game states. That's a good recipe for success.
Jumping on the sinking Panthers isn't very appealing, nor is laying the juice on the Lightning to complete a sweep in a series they've been outchanced in at five-on-five. So, we'll look to the total for value.
In the series' three games, the teams have combined for six goals, five goals, and three goals. That's three unders.
Florida is having a tough time capitalizing on its chances at even strength. Tampa Bay is blocking so many shots, and Vasilevskiy has cleaned up the ones that have gotten through. Win or lose, I don't see them putting up a big number in this game.
At the other end, I don't think the Panthers are giving up enough volume to allow a huge number. The Lightning generally play very tight, low-event games when elimination is a possibility - for them or their opponents - and I expect them to stick to that recipe.
Bet: Under 6.5 (-115)
I believe the Avalanche are the best team in hockey, so it should be no surprise I'm going back to the well in Game 4.
Yes, they're on the road against a pesky Blues team. Yes, they just lost one of their better defenders, Sam Girard, to a broken sternum. But they are a well-oiled machine and proved during the regular season that important players can come in and out of the lineup and it won't have much impact on the end results - they'll just keep winning.
As good as Girard can be, Jordan Binnington might well be the bigger loss right now. He did not play well down the stretch of the Blues' regular season, but he flipped the switch in a big way over the last few weeks.
Through six playoff games, Binnington stopped 4.9 goals more than expected for an average of +0.93 per 60 minutes. Put another way, if the Blues gave up three goals worth of chances, Binnington has essentially shaved it down to just two against.
Ville Husso has had the opposite impact. He has saved -0.57 goals above expected per 60. Using the same reference point, if the Blues allowed three goals worth of chances with Husso in net, they'd give up 3.57 goals.
The samples are small, sure, but that's the nature of the playoffs. In their current forms, Binnington has been trimming off goals, while Husso has been tacking on more than deserved.
That is not what you want from your goaltender, especially against a team like the Avalanche. They have so much speed and firepower that even if you defend well, you're still going to give up plenty of chances. Right now, Husso isn't reliably stopping them.
If he can't find the form we saw for the first three-quarters of the regular season, the Blues will be put on the brink Monday.
Bet: Avalanche (-165)
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.