The St. Louis Blues (24-19-7) can lock up a playoff spot with a win over the Anaheim Ducks (16-30-7) on Wednesday and a loss from the Los Angeles Kings. The Blues have dominated the season series, winning five games (all in regulation), while the Ducks have won twice (once in overtime).
Winners in five of their last six, including a 3-1 win over Anaheim on Monday, St. Louis is a strong favorite, checking in at -250. The underdog Ducks are +210. Puck drop is at 8:00 P.M. Eastern.
Anaheim Ducks Preview
Anaheim wasn’t expected to make the playoffs in 2021, but finishing last in the West Division wasn’t what the Ducks had in mind either. Locked into last place, Anaheim is only four points clear of the Buffalo Sabres for last in the league.
The Ducks’ lousy offense musters just 2.19 goals per game, the second-lowest total in the league. Part of the offensive woes comes from Anaheim’s inability to sustain offensive pressure and generate shots. At 26.8 shots per game and a dreadful 9.2% on the power play, the Ducks are statistically the NHL’s worst offensive team.
Surprisingly, despite the offensive ineptitude, John Gibson has been steady as ever in the net. While his 9-19-6 record, 2.95 GAA, and .904 save percentage seem unimpressive, three of his nine wins were shutouts.
On the season, he has 0.32 goals saved above average; for comparison, fellow Ducks netminder Ryan Miller is at a -10.60, fourth-worst in the league. Gibson is expected to start Wednesday’s game.
“We all have no margins for error,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “I think John Gibson lays it on the line every night to try to keep it where they score none. Everyone knows we’re limited in the goal-scoring column. Every night he comes in and does everything he can to keep the other team to zero.”
The list of injured Anaheim players continues to grow, especially with names from the defense corps. Cam Fowler left Monday’s game with a head injury and did not return. Jamie Drysdale (lower body), Hampus Lindholm (wrist), Josh Manson (unspecified), and Andy Welinski (lower body) are all on the injury report and may not play on Wednesday either. Adam Henrique will rejoin the team once he clears COVID-19 protocols.
St. Louis Blues Preview
St. Louis has been a middle-of-the-pack team offensively and defensively this season, only really putting things together in recent weeks. The Blues now rank 13th in goals per game (2.96), ninth in power-play percentage (22.8%), but still 18th in shots on goal per game. At the other end of the ice, St. Louis allows the 11th-most goals per game (3.06) on the 18th most shots (29.9%).
The major pitfall has been the penalty kill. At 76.1% this season, the Blues have the worst PK unit in the division and the fourth-worst in the league. This game could be decided by which unit shows up – Anaheim’s putrid power play or St. Louis’ well-below-par penalty kill.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 5, 2021
Jordan Binnington figures to start Wednesday’s game. In 2021, he has posted a 16-14-6 record, a 2.68 GAA, and a .910 save percentage. His -8.60 GSAA definitely needs improvement for St. Louis to make a deep playoff run.
Torey Krug and Vince Dunn are day-to-day with upper-body injuries. Neither is expected to play Wednesday’s game.
On to the Pick
With a chance to all but secure a playoff berth at home, bank on the Blues to take care of business. However, the -250 odds aren’t favorable enough to make a profitable wager.
Instead, consider taking St. Louis -1.5 goals on the puck line at -105. The Blues have scored three or more goals in each of their last six games, while Anaheim has scored two or fewer goals in seven of its past nine.
Betting Pick: St. Louis Blues -1.5 goals (-105)
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