Today's Free Picks for
NHL Series Price
Series begins Wednesday, April 10th.
Posted on April 8th, before the 1st game of this series.
8:00 PM EST. The Blues were one of the biggest stories in the second half after they disposed of the notion that if you are out of it at Thanksgiving, you've got no shot to make the playoffs. Not only did the Blues swim all the way back into contention, but they forced the issue of who would be the Central Division champion into the final Saturday. The biggest reason for the Blue Notes turnaround was goaltender Jordan Binnington, who set a team record for wins by a rookie with 23 and had he been on the roster all season, there's an argument to be made that he would be in not only the Calder conversation, but the Vezina as well. With all the success and high praise the Blues have been getting since the calendar turned to 2019, we suspect their value is now trading at a season high. That the Blues opened this series with the Jets as the betting favorite confirms it.
The criticism of the Jets in the press has not gone unnoticed, as they have been raked over the coals for their propensity to lose games late, including a total meltdown against the Islanders on March 28. That was one of nine games the Jets had the lead in the third period and did not finish. Those losses added up in the second half, as Winnipeg went from a conference winning pace to falling to the second seed in the Central. There were reports of a players-only meeting then wunderkind Patrik Laine had his game torn to shreds after a prolonged scoring slump and a run of errors that cost his team. It’s easy to forget that the winger isn't old enough to drink a beer in the United States. Our take is that the Jets less than stellar second half was due to a combination of boredom and a rash of injuries that most notably included defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey. Head coach Paul Maurice pretty much confirmed that assumption this week, "For our team, I felt for a while, I don’t know what the exact number is, we were maybe 33-16-2 at the end of January, we had a pretty good idea we were making the playoffs. We hit a really heavy grind here, lost some key guys, and some of the fun of it, I think, came out of it for us." Big Buff is back and he led to Jets to a 2-1-1 road trip to finish the season. Winnipeg went to the Western Conference Finals last season and the Jets were dominant in the first two rounds disposing of Minnesota and Nashville respectively before running into Vegas and a hot Marc Andre Fleury between the pipes. For all of the accolades that Binnington has racked up in the second half, Connor Hellebuyck is playing his best hockey of the year. The Jets, too, have picked up the pace despite the insults being hurled their way after outshooting their opposition in three of their last four games.
During the regular season, the Jets won the series 3-1, but if you believe Maurice, these are not the same Blues, "We’ve never played THAT team. Right? When we played them in 2018, they were a different team." The market is volatile and when Winnipeg and St. Louis played in the Manitoba capital in December, the Blues were a +180 pooch. Hell, when the Jets visited St. Louis in October, they were -154 road chalk. Now, in Game 1, the Jets are being offered at a much cheaper price and they are the dog in this series despite owning home ice. How can that be? We also have to wonder what this price would have been if this series had been played a month or two ago. The Blues Note would have no doubt been the dog. Man for man, the Jets are tough to beat in every department. They run four lines deep and are now finally healthy on the blueline with Morrissey returning to practice this week. Hellebuyck has proven he can play when the games really start to matter, while Binnington is the great unknown on this bright stage. The Jets are being sold short here based on the perception that they are not playing well, but that could not be further from the truth. Meanwhile, the Blues are being touted in the press as the team nobody wants to play because they are peaking at the right time. That's nonsense. St. Louis, with many of the same players have been an easy out in the playoffs for years. The real season starts now and the Jets are a trusted commodity that should return a profit.
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WINNIPEG +109 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.18)