NHL picks, odds for Lightning vs. Panthers, Avalanche vs. Blues

The second-round series between the Colorado Avalanche and the St. Louis Blues took an angry turn Saturday night. Colorado won 5-2, but post-game storylines involved Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri and Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington. During the game, Binnington injured his knee when Kadri and Calle Rosen of St. Louis ran into him early in the first period. Kadri is used to being a dirty player and the Blues know it.

Binnington will miss the rest of the series with the injury and the Blues aren’t happy about that.

After the match, during an interview with TNT, Kadri had a water bottle thrown by Binnington on his way, Athleticismreported Peter Baugh.

The Avalanche also lost defenseman Sam Girard for the playoffs after he broke his sternum during the game. He’s a key defenseman to move the puck on their Avs’ second pair, so losing him could affect them this series and the rest of the playoffs if they advance.

There will be plenty of fireworks in this match 4 on Monday night.

Before the Avalanche and Blues face off, the Tampa Bay Lightning can become the first team to advance to the Conference Finals.

They have the opportunity to sweep the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers on Monday night following the Bolts’ 5-1 victory Sunday afternoon in Tampa. Florida was the top-scoring team in the regular season, averaging more than four goals per game. They only scored three goals in three games against Tampa Bay.

If Tampa Bay wins, it will be its sixth conference final in the past eight years.

Schedule for Monday’s Stanley Cup playoffs:

  • Game 4: Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning – 7 p.m. ET – TNT, CBC, SN
  • Game 4: Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues – 9:30 p.m. ET – TNT, CBC, SN

Every day during the Stanley Cup playoffs, The Athletic writers will make their picks, straight. We put our picks, TV schedule and coverage for all series, plus the latest ratings, all in one place for fans to easily digest and follow. Our in-depth NHL coverage is linked under the picks. For live NHL odds from BetMGM, click here.

Panthers in Lightning

Team Moneyline Total

+100

O 6.5 (+100)

-120

U 6.5 (-120)

Game 3: Lightning 5, Panthers 1 | Tampa Bay leads 3-0

Recap by Shayna Goldman

Who was the guy: Nikita Kucherov made the difference in this series. His goal and three assists in Game 3 earn him seven points in the second round, 15 points in 10 playoff games. While he might be expected to be more of a scorer, it’s stellar passing that makes him so dangerous throughout the playoffs – watch his setup with Corey Perry in Game 1, on the winner by Ross Colton in Game 2, or Steven Stamkos’ score in Game 3. season.

What was the key: There’s a level of urgency and desperation from the Lightning (you see, us nerds can talk about feelings and emotions too!), and a lot of it comes from their defenders.

There was Ryan McDonagh who put his stick in the way of Jonathan Huberdeau’s power play luck. And Jan Rutta clearing the puck from the blue paint before it could cross the goal line late in the third. Plus timely blocks from Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev. Don’t forget that the winning goal was scored by a more defensive defender in Erik Cernak.

Blocking shots is not always a perfect defensive measure. Sometimes it’s just reactionary after a defender can’t stop a shot from happening in the first place. Still, it should be noted that the team trying to avoid being on the brink of elimination only had four blocks between the six defenders while Hedman matched that individually. These efforts – between blocks and defensive plays to force Florida to miss the net – explain why these teams were almost tied in shots on goal (36-35), despite the Panthers generating 12 more attempts than their opponents).

Key stat: Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 2.0 goals above expectations in all situations via NaturalStatTrick. It’s equal to the goal differential before the Lightning scored two empty nets to seal their victory.

WRITER TO TAKE

Jesse Granger

Sean McIndoe

Shayna Goldman

Dom Luszczyszyn

Kevin Kurz

Sean Kind


Avalanche at the Blues

Team Moneyline Total

-160

O 6.5 (-115)

+135

U 6.5 (-105)

Game 3: Avalanche 5, Blues 2 | Colorado leads 2-1

Recap by Sean Gentille

Who was the guy? Blues fans aren’t going to like it, but — to use an expression from the great Jeremy Rutherford — the guy of the night was Nazem Kadri. Was Kadri’s Game 3 impact 100% healthy? Not enough. Was it immense and undeniable? You bet.

We’ll start with the obvious. Kadri accidentally knocked down Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington in the first period, knocking the prodigal St. Louis starter out of the game. Binnington, who had been quite good since taking over from Ville Husso in the first round, came away with an obvious lower body injury. Husso came in and quickly allowed a goal for Logan O’Connor – who could have been offside after Josh Manson knocked a puck in the air near the St. Louis blue line, but that’s another story.

You can be the judge here, and it’s really a beholder situation. The puck was close, and Kadri got the worst of the collision with St. Louis’ Calle Rosen, but… it’s Nazem Kadri and it’s the playoffs. The track record counts for something. Hard to say for sure, anyway. Nor is it an escape. I was on Team He did it on purpose until I watched the replay multiple times.

Key stat: 0.68. That’s the difference in expected goal percentage in all situations between the teams in this game, per Natural Stat Trick. It doesn’t come any closer than that. It’s a nice and tidy way to sum up the series so far. St. Louis won, for what it’s worth, 50.34 to 49.66.

When it was over: After Gabriel Landeskog scored to make it 4-2 at Colorado with 2:08 to go, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko had a prime chance along the goal line that Kuemper managed. That, well and truly, felt like the end. Kuemper finished with 26 saves on 28 shots.

Avalanche worry meter: 🙃🙃 … They haven’t been great, but a lead is a lead.

Blues Worry Meter: 😬😬😬 … They’re a better game against the Avs than a lot of people thought, but a 2-1 deficit without the hot hand in the net seems like a problem.

WRITER TO TAKE

Jesse Granger

Sean McIndoe

Shayna Goldman

Dom Luszczyszyn

Kevin Kurz

Sean Kind


NHL playoff predictions: scout, coach and executive pick second-round winners

More Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage: News | Podcasts | Odds

(Photo by Vladimir Tarasenko and Darcy Kuemper: Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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