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Expert NHL insight and picks from Pete Truszkowski on Tuesday's slate

Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars Predictions

I think we have a bit of recency bias going on here.

Dallas was an elite team in the league this past season. They might have the best combination of defense and goaltending in the sport. It’s true they didn’t look particularly impressive in their round robin games, finishing with the 3 seed in the Western Conference. Nevertheless, the Calgary Flames are not the Colorado Avalanche or Vegas Golden Knights.

Speaking of Calgary, the word I would use to describe that team would be “average.” It’s not a bad thing. They have a mediocre offense, ranking 13th in expected goals scored per 60 minutes. On the other side of the puck, they ranked 16th in expected goals against per 60 minutes. Their team save percentage at even strength was .919, good for 15th in the 31 team league.

They looked like a solid team against Winnipeg, eliminating them in four games. There’s a lot of reasons for that.

  1. They looked solid because they are solid. This is a decent hockey team. They are a middle of the pack team. There’s nothing to be ashamed of there.
  2. Winnipeg might have been the worst team to make the 24 team tournament. Winnipeg had a lower expected goals percentage than the Detroit Red Wings this past season.
  3. Early in game one of the series, Winnipeg lost two of their elite forwards in Patrik Laine and Mark Scheifele.

So yes, Calgary took care of business but it doesn’t change the fact that while Calgary is solid across the board and is definitely a team that can compete, Dallas is an elite team especially in terms of keeping the opponent off the scoresheet.

I personally think Dallas should be closer to a -130 favorite, so I’m gobbling up the Stars at the current price all day long.

The Pick: Dallas Stars ML (-110)

Carolina Hurricanes vs Boston Bruins Predictions

Talk about two teams who had their stocks go in complete opposite directions during the first week of the NHL tournament.

Boston was the best team in hockey before the pandemic caused mayhem on our world. They would have easily been the number one overall seed in the league and second place wasn’t particularly close to them.

Yet here we are in August and Boston enters the NHL playoffs as a four seed after losing all three of their games in the round-robin tournament used to determine seeding.

On one hand, there’s no home-ice advantage to worry about so there’s less concern over seeding.

On the other hand, you now have to face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes instead of a potential easier matchup against a team like Montreal.

Also, there’s the whole thing about showing the world something after not playing a game for four and a half months. It’s impossible to judge Boston right now. Did they care at all about their seed? Can they just flip a switch when the games get real on Tuesday? Are they struggling to get in to game shape following the break? We really do not know and cannot accurately ask that question.

On the other side of the ice, you have Carolina. Carolina was the only team in the NHL to sweep their first round opponent in the qualifying round. They looked absolutely dominant disposing of the New York Rangers.

The news potentially gets even better for them, as arguably their most important player, Dougie Hamilton inches closer to a return and will be a game-time-decision for Tuesday’s game.

This is a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Boston swept Carolina in 4 games to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Here we are, 14-plus months later, a global pandemic in between the matchups and these two teams could not be in different places right now. I don’t think it’s possible to back Boston at this price with how they’ve looked.

Carolina has shown that they are ready to go in this tournament. There is a revenge angle at play here as well. They might also get a boost from their best player returning. Let’s go with the dog.

The pick: Carolina Hurricanes ML (+120)

Chicago Blackhawks vs Las Vegas Golden Knights Predictions

Chicago pulled off the upset against Edmonton, but this is a completely different animal. Chicago can score but they have extreme issues keeping the opponent out of their zone and out of their net. I like the over in this game as I did with every Blackhawks game against the Oilers. However, I think there’s more value in betting over 1.5 goals in the first period at -138. All four games in the Blackhawks series against Edmonton went over this number and I don’t think it stops on Tuesday against Vegas.

LEAN: Over 1.5 goals in 1st period (-138)

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Tampa Bay Lightning Predictions

Tampa will be without Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos in all likelihood. As we witness in the Columbus vs Toronto series, Columbus will sell out and play defense against teams that clearly have more talent than they do. With Columbus’ risk aversion and safe style of play coupled with Tampa Bay missing two elite talents, I think this game goes under the total of 5.5 goals.

LEAN: Under 5.5 total goals (-130)


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