The playoffs are in full swing, and the intensity is already through the roof! There are some incredibly exciting fixtures on the menu today, and we’ve got them all covered here! Have a read below for all our NHL picks.
New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins – 12.00 PM EDT
The Islanders and the Penguins tee off their playoff series in Pittsburgh today, and given how one-sided this matchup has been this season the Islanders need to get off to a strong start.
With just 1 win from their final 5 games, the Islanders did not end their season the way they’d have liked, with their generally rock solid defense making some questionable performances, and their offense not providing at the other end, scoring an average of 1.7 goals from their last 7 defeats.
The Penguins get the home advantage for their first place finish in the division, and there are few teams in the league that would prefer home soil more than the Penguins and Islanders. The Penguins boasted the joint best home record in the NHL (22-4-2), while the Islanders were ranked just behind them in third with a record of 21-3-4 when playing at home in New York.
Carter: “When you get into the playoffs, the urgency needs to be through the roof.” pic.twitter.com/WDnFmTZUZ8
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 15, 2021
While the Islanders didn’t enjoy the best end to their regular season, the Penguins on the other hand crossed the line looking incredibly strong, picking up a huge 7-3 win on the road to the Flyers before returning home for a two game sweep of the Buffalo Sabres.
Jeff Carter, who buried a double hat trick in the first game against the Sabres, was also the hero of the second game, scoring the lone goal of the game for a 1-0 win.
The Penguins have been such a dominant force on home soil, and having beaten the Islanders in 4 of 4 games played in Pittsburgh so far, we see the Penguins winning the opening game comfortably.
Minnesota Wild @ Vegas Golden Knights – 3.00 PM EDT
After the Avalanche clinched the division title from the Golden Knights through goal difference on the final day of the regular season, the Vegas side will play the Wild instead of the Blues in round of the playoffs.
It is a proposition that is unlikely to excite the Knights given that the only team in the West Division that they don’t have a winning record this season against is the Minnesota Wild.
The Wild are coming into the series following back to back defeats to the Blues in St. Louis, their place on the table was already decided, meaning the results were meaningless, however, they conceded 11 goals over the 2 games, not quite the momentum they would like to be rolling into a match of this calibre.
The Knights ended their season with a dominant 6-0 win over the Sharks, marking their 7th shutout of the campaign, the points were shared around the side, with 5 players notching double points in the win, including a 2 goal performance Dylan Sikura.
Mark Stone finished the season leading the Knights for both assists and total points, however, they haven’t come as easily for the captain recently, with just 2 points from his last 5. Stone will need to be at his best against the Wild, which have had the better of the Knights so far this season, fortunately it is a fixture he has done well in, with 11 points from their 8 games.
The home fixture has proven to be the difference between the two sides so far this season, both the Wild and the Knights went 3-1 from their 4 home games, with all but 2 of the games decided by just 1 goal in this tight matchup.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Florida Panthers 7.30 PM EDT
The Panthers swept the Lightning over the final 2 games of the regular season, and with it, they did enough to snatch a second place finish from the hands of their Florida rivals.
The series sweep was a perfect end to the campaign for the Panthers, with their 8-2-0 record over the final 10 games the joint best in the league, and their 6 straight wins the longest active streak in the NHL.
The most recent victory was a 4-0 shutout over the reigning champions, with both teams taking the same amount of shots for the game, Chris Dreidger is largely to thank for his strong performance in net.
Given the fierce rivalry between these two Florida sides this series is one of the most exciting on offer, both teams know each other very well, and after their back and forth head to head record this season we are expecting to see this series go the distance.
“Very excited, it’s the best time of the year. I have an emotional boost and I hope to be able to elevate my game.”
— x – Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 14, 2021
The Panthers got up over the Lightning convincingly in the closing games of the regular season, but the Lightning will be welcoming back Kucherov, Stamkos, Palat and Hedman to the lineup, and with their considerable advantage in the net the Lightning should prevail.
Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks – 10.30 PM EDT
The Flames have had a weekend off since beating the Canucks by a convincing 4-1 last Thursday, they resume the series today and will be playing the final 3 games of the season against each other.
Both Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk scored once, and assisted another for the Flames, picking up their 45th and 39th respective points for their solid campaigns.
The Canucks bounced back from the defeat with an impressive win over the Oilers away from home yesterday, unfortunately, they are now in the unfavourable position of playing in back to back games against a well rested Flames’ outfit.
Matthew Highmore buried 2 goals and J.T Miller picked up a pair of assists in the 4-1 victory, with the Canucks recording a rare 41 shots for the game, facing 31 in return, all but 1 of which Thatcher Demko was there to prevent.
The Canucks did very well to beat the Oilers away from home, but they have struggled incredibly hard when playing twice in two days, and against a team who has not played for 3 days we don’t like their chances today.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.