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NHL picks: Back Ovechkin to take over 4.5 shots vs. Islanders

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August 20th, 2020

Two teams face elimination tonight, as the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue from the bubble cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

The New York Islanders lead their series 3-1 and can close out the Washington Capitals with a victory tonight, while the Dallas Stars will look to send the Calgary Flames packing in Game 6 of their first-round series.

Here are the bets we fancy on the ice tonight.

New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals 

Fri, August 21 2020, 12:00 AM

Washington Capitals

Puck Line

-1.5

Moneyline

-110

Total

O 5

New York Islanders

Puck Line

+1.5

Moneyline

-110

Total

U 5

The Capitals managed to stave off elimination two nights ago, avoiding a series sweep at the hands of the Islanders, but Alex Ovechkin and company face a stiff uphill climb to win and advance to the second round.

Ovechkin has scored in two of seven playoff games since the NHL re-started earlier this month, and has totaled four goals. Ovechkin to score a goal anytime in Thursday’s Game 5 presents intriguing odds at +130. He’s the best scorer of this generation, with more than 700 goals during his career.

A safer play might be to look at his total shots for the game.

In Game 4, with the Capitals needing a win, Ovechkin threw just about everything at the net with seven total shot attempts. Four of those got through for registered shots on goal, and he scored twice as a result.

Three times in the past five games, including the final game of the round robin, Ovechkin has reached five shots on goal or better. 

For his career, Ovechkin has averaged just under five shots on goal per game. He’s a volume shooter – since 2010, no one has had more shots on goal during regular season play than Ovechkin. You will need five from him tonight for this bet to hit, but I expect the Capitals to do everything they can to set up Ovechkin for those opportunities.

NHL free pick: Alex Ovechkin Over 4.5 shots on goal (+105)

Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames

Fri, August 21 2020, 2:30 AM

Calgary Flames

Puck Line

+1.5

Moneyline

+105

Total

O 5

Dallas Stars

Puck Line

-1.5

Moneyline

-125

Total

U 5

There has been no room for error in this series. Unfortunately for the Calgary Flames, the few mistakes they have made have been costly. And now they find themselves down 3-2 in their best-of-seven series with the Dallas Stars, needing a win on Thursday to force a Game 7.

Through five games, this series has produced four one-goal games, including a Game 4 thriller in which the Stars scored with 12 seconds remaining to force overtime, where they eventually won it to tie the series.

The Flames never looked right in Game 5 until the third period. They were outshot badly through two periods before flipping the switch in the final period – after they had fallen behind and were trying desperately to even the game.

If Calgary is to win this game, they’ll need breakout performances from their star players. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan have been mostly quiet in this series. Gaudreau has one goal and three points, while Monahan has just a pair of assists.

That’s not good enough.

The biggest piece that Calgary is missing is agitator/scorer Matthew Tkachuk. He’s missed the last three games due to a suspected injury. If he is unable to play Thursday, the Flames might be done unless the best players currently in their lineup can step up.

If Tkachuk is in, I think the Flames have a fighting chance. That’s a big "if." Without Tkachuk for Calgary, the Stars’ chances of dousing the Flames get even better.

NHL free pick: Stars to win (-125)

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