NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Previews for May 8
Playoff hockey continues Sunday with the race for the Stanley Cup taking stage all day long.
We are previewing two of the most intriguing matchups on deck for Sunday with predictions on the winner of each. You can find live odds in the sportsbook now.
Toronto vs. Tampa Bay
The defending Stanley Cup Champions host Toronto in Game 4 of their first round series. The Lightning are -1.5 goal favorites and -120 on the moneyline. The Maple Leafs are even money to win outright and the Over/Under Total Goals is 6.5 (Over -105, Under -115).
The series has lived up to the hype as one of the most anticipated of these playoffs. The Leafs dominated the first game, winning 5-0 going away. Tampa responded with their own 5-goal game in Game 2, evening the series.
Auston Matthews and Matthew Marner have been one of the best duos on the ice early in the postseason, both ranking atop the league in points. To win its first series since 2004 against the two-time defending champions of all teams, Toronto cannot afford to let up on the road. This was the fourth best scoring team in the NHL this season, but Tampa found its stride late in the year.
It looked like a changing of the guard in Tampa Bay for much of the season. The Lightning seem to have put that behind them heading into this playoff run. They are favored in this game but came into the series as underdogs to win it. It does not appear they will be able to slow Toronto down, giving up more than 2.5 goals per game this season. Instead, the team will remain aggressive on the net.
Tampa Bay was a moneyline favorite 71 times this season and still walked away with 48 outright wins in those games. Toronto will eventually take this series. It is going the distance though. Take the Lightning to win at home with Toronto covering the spread and Total Goals going Over.
Minnesota vs. St. Louis
Minnesota and St. Louis meet Sunday night in another closely matched series. The Central Division rivals are very familiar with each other, though the Blues have dominated the Wild with a 13-2-1 head-to-head record going their way.
St. Louis is a -1.5 goal favorite and -125 to win outright Sunday. The Wild are +105 on the moneyline and the Total Goals Over/Under is 6.5 (Over +100, Under -120).
While the history between these teams greatly favors St. Louis, both of these teams were playing on another level toward the end of the regular season. The Wild have the highest points percentage in the league since mid March, nearly a whole point ahead of the closest competitors in Florida, Toronto and Edmonton. Nevermind the fact that Minnesota is strong and deep in the net after bringing Marc-Andre Fleury on board.
The Blues are known for a potent offense as well. That is not to say they are not without a defensive presence. The team added Nick Leddy midseason to shore itself up on the back end and his contributions have been two-fold. He gives the team an enforcer it was missing and brings an unexpected jolt to the offense. The Blues are a little shakier at the goal of course, but that does not mean it is necessarily a weakness. Jordan Binnington has maintained the starting role but it seems only a matter of time before St. Louis gives Ville Husso a shot at shaking things up.
We like the Wild to come out of this series the winner but we are rolling with St. Louis in this game. The Blues were 24-17 against the spread this season and will improve on that in this game, which will go Under 6.5 goals.