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NHL expert Pete Truszkowski is back with his picks for Wednesday's First Round action

Colorado Avalanche vs. Arizona Coyotes

BET: Avalanche Moneyline (First 60 Minutes/Regulation Time) @ -106

If you’ve been following this column, you know how I felt about Arizona last round. They didn’t deserve to beat Nashville, but they did thanks to tremendous goaltending by Darcy Kuemper and awful goaltending by Juuse Saros for Nashville.

Well, Colorado is about three times the team Nashville was. This is one of the league’s elite teams while Arizona is a team that most likely has no business being in the actual playoffs. If the season was never postponed, Arizona would not have made the playoffs. Colorado was contending to be the number one seed in the conference.

Colorado dramatically outplayed all three of the teams they played in the round-robin tournament including the Vegas Golden Knights who are the best possession team in the league. This is a team in good form and ready to hit the ground running in the first round of these playoffs.

I don’t feel confident laying -180 even though I think this is a tremendous matchup. We have to eat some of the juice, so we’re going to hope that the Avalanche win this game in regulation time. I don’t foresee the Avs needing overtime to take care of Arizona.

New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals

BET: Under 5.5 @ -135

The teacher vs the student. The master vs the pupil.

Rewind two years ago and you’ll see Barry Trotz on the Washington Capitals bench winning a Stanley Cup for the Capitol Region. Next to him on the bench, you’ll see his associate coach Todd Rierden.

Now in 2020, Barry Trotz is the coach of the New York Islanders and Todd Rierden is the new coach of Washington. After Trotz won the Cup with Washington, the Capitals decided not to give him a worthy enough raise and he left to join the Islanders. Ouch.

By all accounts and purposes, these teams play the same system. Trotz’s system was learned by Rierden and he’s kept the framework in place.

On Long Island, Trotz has turned the Islanders into a defense-first team that does not give up a ton of high quality chances. The Islanders struggle to score, but they do their best to keep the puck out of their net. Trotz knows the tendencies of his former coaches and players and will be able to game plan to slow them down.

In game one of this series, with these two coaches being so familiar with each other, and these teams being in the same division, I expect a slow start as the teams feel each other out.

I do like the Islanders at plus-money, but my play in this game is the under. The Islanders will ugly this game up like they always try to do against more skilled teams.

Wednesday's NHL Leans

Vancouver Canucks vs. St. Louis Blues: Under 5.5 Goals @ -130 - St. Louis is a defense first team that struggles to create offense. Vancouver is a top heavy team and St. Louis has the best shutdown forward in the sport. Ryan O’Reilly can take Elias Pettersson out of this game and then Vancouver becomes impotent.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens: Over 5.5 goals @ +125 - Montreal plays at a fast pace and takes a lot of attempts towards the net. Philadelphia is the better team. I can see Montreal scoring a couple goals but Philly outsourcing them. Carey Price didn’t have a great season, but he was tremendous in the first round against Pittsburgh. Nevertheless, I think he’ll regress slightly.


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