This article is part of our NHL Picks series.
In the last article we went 1-1 with the Igor Shesterkin going well over 28.5 saves since he got the full 60 minutes as expected, but got the bad beat of a lifetime with Seguin going over his shots on goal in the final minute as his teammate passed up an empty net opportunity to give the shot to Seguin, putting him at 3 shots on goal instead of under the 2.5 that I wrote about. With that in the back of my mind, I want to go for that 2-0 again today.
Tonight's NHL Player Props
Aaron Ekblad OVER 2 Shots On Goal (PrizePicks)
Game 1's of a Playoff series will always be a little less predictable as the trends are not followed as much, but that does not mean there is not still definitive data to look at. In Aaron Ekblad's case, this line is lowered due to a Round 1 series where he only got one or two shots on goal in every game. However, we can use this to our advantage. First off, In Round 1, in Games 3 through 6, he had six or more shot attempts. In 24 games this regular season with six or more shots, there were only three games where he did not get at least two shots on goal, and four games where he did not get at least 3 shots on goal. Next, he had three-or-more powerplay minutes in every 1st Round game. In 67 total games this season, there were only seven games where he got three-or-more powerplay minutes and he did not get at least two shots on goal. That is enough about round 1 and why that doesn't worry me though. Florida is at home today, and Ekblad's home and away split is significant. At home, he has hit two or more shots on goal in 27 of 34 games, and three or more in 23 of 34. Away, he has hit two or more shots on goal in 24 of 33 games, and three or more in 18 of 33. At home, he averages 5.3 Powerplay minutes, compared to the 3.2 he averages away. While the total time on ice does not change much on the season, in the last 10 home games, he averages 26.3 minutes on ice, compared to 22.5 away. So now we have established the opportunity was still there in Round 1, and his numbers are better home compared to away, let's look at the matchup. In three games against Tampa Bay, he has gotten 5, 1, and 2, with all three games coming in December or earlier. However, in the game where he only got one shot on goal, he had six attempts, which I already touched on how good his hit rate is with six-plus shots. In the last three seasons, he has only missed this mark one other time, making it nine of 11 games he got at least two, and in six of those 11 he got three or more. RotoWire has him projected at 2.41 shots on goal.
Pavel Buchnevich OVER 2 Shots On Goal (PrizePicks)
Similar to Ekblad, Pavel Buchnevich had the opportunity you look for in Round 1 but just did not convert like he usually does. He got three shot attempts in every game except for one, and in his only game where he did not, he got less than a minute of Powerplay minutes on ice. In games where he had three or more shot attempts in a game, he has two or more shots in 58 of 64 games and three or more in 41 of 64. In three games against Colorado this season, he has gotten 3, 3 and 4 shots on goal with the most recent game coming less than a month ago. In one of those games he hit his mark despite not a single second of Powerplay minutes on ice.
In both of these props, I put a lot of emphasis on the possibility of a push but I also want to emphasize that I do think the over is the more likely outcome. The reason I stress the potential of a push is to show that the risk is much lower than the upside and makes the picks even stronger in my eyes as I see the possibility of them going under significantly lower than the possibility of them going over.