NHL 4-fold: Top picks for Wednesday's playoff action
The Capitals have the tools to turn their series around, and they head our best bets for the night of postseason games...
Washington Capitals to beat Toronto Maple Leafs –
The Capitals are struggling in the playoffs once again.
The regular season’s best team are heavily underperforming against a young Maple Leafs team, and are 2-1 down as a result.
Despite the Capitals’ problems, though, you can’t count them out yet.
Washington held a 3-1 lead in Game 3 and they were really productive offensively in the first 25 minutes before botching the latter stages.
They have shown that they can take the control of the game against the inexperienced Leafs, and now just need to do it consistently.
Being down 2-1 in the first round isn’t a new situation for the Caps, who rallied back to beat the Islanders in 2015 from the same scoreline.
Alexander Ovechkin is a potential difference maker in Game 4 and should receive more playing time than his 15 minutes last time out.
Ottawa Senators to beat Boston Bruins –
Ottawa took a massive win and a well-deserved series lead in Game.
The Senators are outshooting the Bruins 88 to 74, and Boston are struggling to cope with a number of injuries.
In Game 3 the Senators scored two power play goals, boosting their overall power-play percentage of 30 – the second best in the playoffs.
And some of their forwards are really hitting form, with Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard and Bobby Ryan all looking confident.
Hoffman scored twice in the last game and should continue to be a real asset in Game 4, having been the team’s second-highest scorer in the regular season with 61 points.
At the moment the Senators are more dangerous offensively and the Bruins will likely have trouble shutting them down.
St Louis Blues to beat Minnesota Wild –
Minnesota’s performances in the regular season were very promising, but now everything seems to be crashing down.
The Wild don’t look like a team that is ready to play playoff hockey and are suffering from lack of effort and leadership.
They have blocked the fewest shots of all the playoff teams, and 31 fewer than their current opponents, the Blues.
The Wild have also been frustrated by St Louis goaltender Jake Allen, who has been phenomenal, allowing just three goals in the series with an amazing save percentage of 97.4.
Minnesota are also having problems with their power play, having scored just once from 11 opportunities.
They had four power plays in Game 3 and fired a blank.
The Wild need to improve drastically in Game 4 if they want to stay alive.
That’s not likely to happen against a hugely confident Blues team that should earn the sweep.
Anaheim Ducks to beat Calgary Flames –
Another sweep is on the cards here as Anaheim are poised to knock Calgary out of the playoffs.
The Ducks are clearly the better team out of these two when playing on even strength. They have scored eight goals in 5v5 situations, while the Flames have just two.
Anaheim shooting percentage of 11.3 is the best of all the playoff teams, while Calgary goaltender Brian Elliot’s save percentage is just 88.7.
The Ducks are also getting more puck possession from faceoffs with an impressive win percentage of 56.4.
Anaheim are just too difficult to handle for the Flames. Expect Calgary’s season to end in this game.