Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:15 PM EST.
WINNIPEG +115 over Edmonton
7:38 PM EST. OT included. The Jets cashed in both Game 1 and Game 2 in Edmonton and while one might be content with that, we see no reason not to keep the pedal to the metal while the Jets have their foot on the throat of the Oilers. Winnipeg's playoff struggles have been well documented from the early days of Jets 1.0 and a seemingly yearly first-round exit at the hands of the Oilers to these “Zombie Thrashers,” who have made the postseason just four times since moving to the Manitoba capital. In only 2018 did the Jets get out of the first round. One of the big reasons for that lack of success can be linked to Winnipeg's dismal 5-13 home playoff record. That mark might be a bit surprising when you consider all the hoopla that comes with a Jets playoff run, including the famed "Winnipeg White-out." There is usually a ton of fanfare as well, with a street festival-style atmosphere outside Bell MTS Place. Winnipeg fans shut down city blocks to party and watch hockey, but this year is much different. While we've read and heard that the Jets will be disadvantaged by the hollow sounds of an empty rink, they have thousands of success-starved fans forced homebound by the third wave of the Pandemic. Even Premier Brian Pallister said these were the "darkest days" for the Keystone State. Could the Jets be that light?
North of the 49th, one cannot help but be a little jealous at the sight of Islanders fans hugging, high fiving and giving each other beer baths on the way to a 4-1 romp over the Penguins yesterday afternoon. However, for the Jets, dare we say this empty arena scenario may benefit them greatly. We've been in the building for a Jets 2.0 playoff game and the atmosphere is electric, no doubt, but with it comes a level of pressure that Winnipeg has had trouble overcoming. The numbers don't lie and the Jets’ home playoff record is not what one thinks of when they tout home-ice advantage. Perhaps the circus that comes with a Jets postseason appearance was a distraction. Maybe 17,000 white towels vigorously whirled overhead caused a change in airflow that sucked the life out of the home side unknowingly, or maybe the Jets just grip their sticks a little tighter this time of year. Regardless, an empty Bell MTS Place just might be what the doctor ordered. No distractions, no excuses, no mercy.
We've written nary a word about the Oilers here, who are down 2-0, but we suspect you'll find an abundance of over-analysis of what ails Connor McDavid and company. Remember after Game 1 when #97 said, "I actually didn't mind our game." Well, after a 1-0 overtime loss in Game 2, "McJesus" has changed his tone it seems, "I wouldn't call it concern, but obviously our desperation has to get up. We've got to be hungry around the net. There are some loose pucks around there that are laying around that are waiting to be put in the net." It sounds like the Oilers might be the one with splinters in their palms.
Lost in the Jets' past playoff failures is that these Oilers have failed to meet expectations year in and year out. How many first round picks does one have to land to make a deep run? The Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle era was over before it was able to get started. The Oilers have burned through coaches and front office staff and landed the biggest franchise lottery ticket since "Sid the Kid" in McDavid and still...notta. One series win over the Sharks in 2017 does not make one immortal. Sure, McDavid can always look back to his 105 points in 56 games as some sort of modern homage to "The Great One," but last we checked, #99 has rings on four fingers and a big reason for that are his playoff scoring records. When the games mattered most, "Gretz" was truly great. In these playoffs, McDavid has been nearly invisible; much of that credit goes to the Jets, who are working their game plan to a "T." "Operation Shutdown #97" has been a success and with Connor Hellebuyck as their last line of defense, it's going to take a major outburst or a huge collapse to dent that armour. All the pressure appears to be on the Oilers here, as there is a sense of impending doom hanging over Oil Country. Can the world's greatest hockey player really be locked down again? Our short answer is "yes. Have a great Sunday. Go Jets go!
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WINNIPEG +115 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.30)