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NHL handicapper Pete Truszkowski is back with three picks for Thursday's NHL slate

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vegas Golden Knights

BET: Golden Knights to Win in Regulation @ -120

BET: Over 6 Goals @ -118

I’m not sure whether game one of this series was supposed to be encouraging for either team.

Vegas was their usual self, dominating the puck possession, scoring chances, shot attempts, quality of chances and basically controlling the game. They won by a score of 4-1 after outshooting Chicago 34-20.

Basically, this is what you’d expect from a one seed against a team who had zero chance of making the real planned postseason back in March.

On the other hand, Chicago played defense and kept Vegas below their season average in terms of high danger chances. The defense of the Blackhawks is their achilles heel and why almost nobody is giving them a real chance.

Corey Crawford, Chicago’s goaltender, was disappointing in game one. He gift-wrapped two goals for the Golden Knights, and if Chicago wants to have any chance of pulling the upset, he needs to put in an elite performance and not be detrimental.

Patrick Kane struggled for Chicago; when he was on the ice they had under 30% of the shot attempts and scoring chances. Kane is the most talented player in this series and the Blackhawks are relying on him to make gamebreaking plays.

So what was real?

I think Vegas will only improve. I don’t think Chicago is capable of putting in a defensive effort like that every night. Remember, the first period of this game had no goals before Vegas notched four in the last two periods. It took them a while to get going, but Vegas eventually filled the net.

It’s never a good idea to lay -200, so we’re going to bet on Vegas to win the game during regulation time. In addition, I think both teams continue to open things up and the game goes over the total of 6, which is down from 6.5 in game one.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins

BET: Hurricanes Moneyline @ +125

Carolina and the Bruins have gone through a bit of a whirlwind here in the past couple of days. Carolina eliminated the NY Rangers on Tuesday night of last week. Boston played their final round-robin game on Sunday. That means that the Hurricanes have had four extra days of rest.

This game was supposed to originally face-off on Tuesday. It was moved to Wednesday after the Tampa Bay/Columbus game went to quintuple overtime.

The Hurricanes and the Bruins themselves played a double overtime game on Wednesday. They will return to the ice on Thursday in a game that will be sure to test their legs and stamina.

Boston was the better team against Carolina in game one and they deserved to win the game in double overtime. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Bruins sleep-walked through the round-robin games looking back in hindsight.

Nevertheless, I do think it takes a team a few periods to get going after not playing for a week. Carolina is a very good team that can compete with even the best version of Boston. In this situation, where the legs and endurance of the teams will be tested, I think the advantage goes to Carolina.

Carolina is a younger team than Boston. Boston relies heavily on veterans such as Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Zdeno Chara. Carolina’s core is younger and plays a quicker pace. The four days extra of rest that I mentioned earlier should also play a factor. Carolina should be able to last longer as they have more in reserve.

I like the Hurricanes at their price here. +125 is good value for a team in a desperate spot where they should have a physical advantage.

Prop Pick

Andrei Svechnikov (Carolina) over 2.5 shots on goal  @ +112

Svechnikov has gone over this total three times in four games this postseason. Plus money is a good value, especially when the guy tasked with shutting down his line, Zdeno Chara, is on the wrong side of 40 playing back-to-back days after a double overtime game.

Thursday's NHL Leans

Lean: Dallas Stars ML @ -106

I thought Dallas was too small of a favorite in game one, but they lost outright. They have moved to more of a pick’em in game two. Dallas was the superior team by quite a bit during the regular season but Calgary looks to be in a good spot while Dallas is struggling to get going. If Ben Bishop doesn’t start for Dallas, I probably lay off. If he’s in net, I feel better about making this bet.


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