For the second time in three days, all three of the remaining Canadian teams will be in action on Sunday.
Friday was a terrific day if you are a fan of Canadian hockey. All three teams pulled out victories to either pull even or take a series lead. Today will prove to be a pivotal day in all three of these series so let's take a look at if the Canadian squads can go 3-0 again.
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Calgary Flames (+100) vs. Dallas Stars (-115)
After dropping Game 2 the night before, the Flames responded very well in Game 3, particularly Cam Talbot. He stopped all 35 shots that he faced to record his second shutout in seven games since the restart.
Even with a 2-1 series lead, the Flames come into Sunday as small underdogs because they are continuously getting outplayed. Dallas has dominated the 5v5 play, producing 55 Scoring Chances to Calgary' 34 (61.8 Scoring Chances For%). The Flames have performed well on special teams, limiting the Stars to just one power-play goal in 10 attempts (10.0%) while converting two of their seven chances (28.6%).
Since Dallas reunited Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov, the trio has been a dominating force in the series. Calgary typically relies on the Mikael Backlund line to slow down the opposition's top players but that becomes much more difficult with Matthew Tkachuk out of the lineup. Flames' head coach Geoff Ward listed Tkachuk as a game-time decision for Game 4 and his return would be a huge boost for the Flames.
Ultimately, Calgary has been too reliant on Talbot and they will need to play better in Game 4 if they have their sights on a 3-1 series lead.
Montreal Canadiens (+110) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (-130)
The Canadiens are coming off of arguably their best game of the entire season. Montreal was buzzing early and the Flyers simply had no answer. Even their 22-year-old phenom Carter Hart couldn't slow down the Habs wrath.
Heading into Game 3, the Flyers are a veteran group that is surely going to respond. Even if they do play better, they still have to solve Carey Price. The 33-year-old netminder has been in vintage form and seems to be applying for Mayor of Pennsylvania. In his first six starts since the restart, Price has given up just nine goals in six games, stopping 185 of the 194 shots (.954 SV%) that he's faced.
Montreal's 5v5 dominance from the regular season has carried over into the bubble. Before the season was paused, they ranked second in the NHL in Expected Goals For%. Through six playoff games, they're in the exact same spot, posting an absurd 70.59 xGF% to this point.
The Habs even-strength dominance isn't new. It's not something that's going away and if Carey Price can continue to play like he's back in his 20's Montreal has a real shot of not only winning Game 3 but the series.
Vancouver Canucks (+115) vs. St. Louis Blues (-135)
One of the most surprising developments from Round 1 is the Canucks taking a 2-0 series lead on the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Even down 0-2, the oddsmakers still really like the Blues in Game 3. St. Louis has carried the bulk of the play at 5v5, but Vancouver has done a surprisingly good job of keeping things to the outside and limiting High-Danger chances so far. Even when the odd high-danger chance gets through, Jacob Markstrom has been there to mop it up. Through six starts he ranks third in HDSV% (.917) and has a .926 SV% overall.
As much as Markstrom has been a difference-maker in this series, Jordan Binnington has been a disappointment. The Richmond Hill, Ontario product has allowed nine goals on 47 shots (.809 SV%) in the series and head coach Craig Berube has to be considering a switch to Jake Allen before this series gets out of hand.
Vancouver is looking like a better team than they were in the regular season and Bo Horvat has turned into a juggernaut in this series, but they still have work to do. They've been a little lucky, shooting at a high percentage and getting ridiculously good goal-tending, two things that historically regress over time. With that said, one more game with some good fortune and they are one win away from bringing out the brooms.
-- Timmy Bits
Headline Photo Credit: KosSportsInc