NHL Picks: Canucks at Predators Game 4 Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/5/2011
For some ridiculous reason, there is only one NHL or NBA playoff game on Thursday night and I don’t think it has anything to do with Cinco de Mayo. The NBA, frankly, should be ashamed of itself for going dark for a night. With that said, we preview your lone playoff betting option on Thursday, Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference semifinals: Vancouver at Nashville.
This series has received the least publicity by far of any of the four conference semifinals, but that’s understandable. You have the lone Canadian team remaining and the small-market, faceless Predators. But it has been the most competitive of the four semifinals by far: Every game has been a one-goal affair and the last two have gone to overtime. In fact, I’ll predict the final score right now for Game 4 (OK, not really): 4-3. The first three games went 1-0, 2-1, 3-2. Even with my limited math skills I can see the trend there. But there’s no way these two combine for seven goals with the way Nashville is rather offensively challenged and how good Predators netminder Pekka Rinne has been.
Canucks at Predators Betting Story Lines
Vancouver actually has had offensive problems all playoffs dating back to the Blackhawks series. But there was good news for Canucks backers and bad news for Vancouver opponents in Game 3 on Tuesday.
Ryan Kesler had emerged as Vancouver’s best offensive player not named Sedin this year and was a big reason the team led the NHL in goals. He scored 41 goals – 15 more than ever before – and was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward. Some would call him the team MVP because he scored and did the dirty work. But Kesler entered Tuesday’s game with no goals in this year’s playoffs and only three in 32 career postseason games. He was easily the hero of Game 3 with two goals – including the controversial overtime winner after what the Preds think was a fake penalty – and an assist. Kesler's power-play goals were Vancouver's first of the series with the man advantage. If he starts lighting the lamp, then Vancouver is the team to beat in these playoffs as it was expected to be going in.
Rinne, meanwhile, is basically standing on his head to make this series close. The Vezina Trophy finalist has now stopped 105 of the 110 shots he's faced, including 44 of 47 on Tuesday night. It’s possible, however, that the Canucks could start to wear him down with all those shots and time in the offensive zone. Vancouver has dominated the action in all but about two periods of Game 2.
And the Predators appear like they will be shorthanded for Game 4. Gritty Steve Sullivan sustained a lower-body injury in Game 3 and reportedly will have to miss tonight’s game. Either J.P. Dumont or more likely Colin Wilson is expected to replace Sullivan, who had two goals and an assist in the playoffs so far. And the Preds are toast if they don’t get something from their No. 1 line of center Mike Fisher and wings Patric Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn. None of the three have any points in the series. Kostitsyn, Nashville’s leading goal scorer during the regular season, has no goals on eight shots in the playoffs.
Canucks at Predators Odds and Trends
Vancouver has opened at -125 with Nashville at +105 on NHL odds. The total is 5.
The Canucks are 6-1 in their past seven as a road favorite of -110 to -150.
Nashville is 5-1 in its past six after scoring two goals or less in its previous game.
The ‘under’ is 10-2-1 in Vancouver’s past 13 following a win.
The ‘over’ is 5-0-2 in Nashville’s past seven at home.
The ‘under’ is 6-0-1 in the past seven meetings.
Road team is 4-1 in the past five.
NHL Picks: Canucks at Predators Predictions
The ‘under’ seems like a lock to me unless Rinne somehow gets injured – Nashville is probably incapable of scoring more than two goals and I can’t see Rinne giving up more than three again, so at worst you push. But this screams a 2-1 game to me, with Vancouver winning and then going home to finish things off.
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