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NHL Playoffs Game 4 Betting Odds, Preview: The Flames Are in Trouble

Credit:

Sergei Belski, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Mark Giordano

Well, last night was something.

The Columbus Blue Jackets started the night by completing a historic sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Presidents’ Trophy winners. Perhaps the most stunning part of that series is that Columbus deserved the result. The Blue Jackets drew up a terrific gameplan and executed it brilliantly, leaving the Lightning with more questions than answers after a record-setting season.

Not long after Columbus won, the New York Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1, to wrap up a sweep of their own. While not on the same shock-level as the happenings in Ohio, the Isles’ clincher was also stunning.

There are no elimination games on Wednesday night, but Toronto, Nashville and Colorado can each take  a 3-1 lead with a victory in Game 4.

Here’s what’s on tap for tonight.

NHL Playoffs Betting Odds, Picks

  • Boston Bruins (+105) at Toronto Maple Leafs (-115), 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN
  • Nashville Predators (+110) at Dallas Stars (-120), 8 p.m. ET on USA
  • Calgary Flames (-105) at Colorado Avalanche (-105), 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN

All three games tonight are projected to be close. The Stars are the biggest favorite on the slate at just -120.

The Maple Leafs lead the Bruins, 2-1, heading into Game 4. The Leafs have wrestled home-ice advantage away from Boston and a win for the Buds tonight would, in all likelihood, put this series away.

In terms of expected goals, the Leafs have a slight edge over Boston through the first three games. Toronto has created 6.65 xGF at 5-on-5 compared to Boston’s 6.13.

The Maple Leafs have done a great job at dictating the style of these games, turning them into high-event contests, and if the B’s can’t get back to the smothering style that works for them, the Buds should get through.

That starts with Boston’s top line. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been pretty quiet throughout this series and if they aren’t going, the Bruins won’t be able to contend with the talented Leafs.

Boston will get Marcus Johansson back for Wednesday night’s game while the Leafs will still be without Nazem Kadri. Johansson isn’t a game-breaker by any means, but he’s an effective checking-line forward and provides Boston the opportunity to spread it’s talent around the lineup.

Once again I’m not interested in this game from a betting standpoint, as there is just too much volatility with injuries and suspensions, but it should be a lot of fun to watch.

The most surprising team in the Western Conference bracket has been the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs barely made the postseason and accumulated the fewest points of any team in the dance, but none of that matters now.

Colorado is now up 2-1 on No. 1 seed Calgary after a dominant — and I mean dominant — Game 3 win.  Not only did the Avs win, 6-2, but they created 5.5 expected goals compared to just 1.9 for Calgary.

The most surprising part of the way this series has played out is that Calgary, one of the league’s strongest teams at 5-on-5 in the regular season, has been thoroughly outplayed by the Avs, who were largely mediocre through the 82-game marathon.

The Avalanche closed last game at +105 and their price for Wednesday is -105. If the Flames end up on the plus-side of the line, I’ll grab them but as of right now this game looks like a pass from me.

The one game I am getting involved in tonight is Game 4 between the Predators and Stars in Dallas.

Even though Nashville was lucky to win Game 3, thanks to some heroic goaltending from Pekka Rinne and some not-so-heroic goaltending from Ben Bishop, I’m backing them again on Wednesday night.

The Stars were the better team at 5-on-5 on Monday but that is not usually how their games go. Dallas created 20 more shot attempts and 18 more scoring chances than Nashville but the Preds were able to escape with the win.

The Stars have home-ice advantage tonight but I still think Nashville’s superiority at 5-on-5 turns this game into a coin flip. With that being the case, I’ll take the better team at plus money.

The bet: Nashville Predators +105

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