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NHL handicapper Pete Truszkowski is back to close out the work week with four picks for Friday's games

Colorado Avalanche vs. Arizona Coyotes

BET: Avalanche to Win in Regulation @ -118

BET: Under 5.5 Goals @ -125

Game one went exactly how you could have expected it to go. Colorado dominated the game from start to finish, but didn’t score until late in the third. When they finally did score, they loosened up and scored three goals in a minute and a half. The 3-0 final score was both representative and not a true representation.

This was a 0-0 game until late in the third period. But Colorado certainly deserved to win the game by 3-4 goals. Colorado had 60% of the shot attempts, 69 percent of the expected goals and 78 percent of high danger chances. The shots on goal were 40 to 14. To put it lightly, the ice was tilted.

The only reason it wasn’t a blowout was the performance of Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper. Goalies like Carey Price and Joonas Korpisalo are getting the headlines in these playoffs, but Kuemper was the reason Arizona advanced past Nashville in round one and he started off with a brilliant performance in game one of this series.

Arizona has little to no offensive bite. They averaged 2.71 goals per game during the regular season, which is third worst amongst the teams that qualified for this tournament.

I think we see another game where Arizona poses no real threat to Colorado. Darcy Kuemper should do enough to keep Arizona somewhat in the game, but they won’t be able to hang on.

I won’t ever lay -190 in hockey, so it’s best to look towards the regulation time/first 60 minutes line.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers

BET: Canadiens Moneyline @ +140

Philadelphia is the one seed. Montreal is the 12 seed. Philadelphia won game one of the series. They are well on their way. All is right in the world, right?

Not so fast my friend.

In game one, Montreal had more expected goals, shot attempts, and high danger scoring chances than Philadelphia. This has been a common refrain for the Canadiens as they are one of the best possession teams in the league. They often struggle due to a lack of finishing talent.

This was the case in game one as they only managed to beat Carter Hart once. Speaking of Carter Hart, he has a .966 save percentage through three games. League average is around .915. No, Carter Hart is not the greatest goalie of all time.

So Montreal is getting unlucky in terms of their shooting percentage and Carter Hart is due for regression in his save percentage. People don’t look past the scoreboard and they’ll see an elite team beat a team that is lucky to be here. What cannot be missed is that Montreal was arguably the better team in game one.

In between games one and two, Montreal had to deal with a scare. Their head coach Claude Julien was air-lifted out of the NHL bubble after he experienced chest pains and had to go to the hospital. Julien will likely miss the remainder of the series and assistant coach Kirk Muller takes over the bench.

I’m not one to put much stock into things like this, especially in the playoffs, but you have a good situation here for Montreal. They played a great game one. They are desperate because they don’t want to go down two games. They are the better possession team. And now, they’re playing for their coach.

I like the underdog here and think we are getting some good value.

St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks

BET: Under 5.5 Goals @ -132

The score-line in game one was 5-2 in favor of Vancouver and you’re probably thinking that Vancouver won a back and forth game full of chances.

Vancouver scored three times on the powerplay which made the difference in this game and put the game over the total. When you look at the regulation numbers, you’ll see that Vancouver had a pathetically low 35 shot attempts.

Vancouver is a one-line team most nights with the line of Elias Pettersson, JT Miller and Brock Boeser carrying the load. Ryan O’Reilly of the Blues is the best defensive forward in hockey and he shut them down in game one. Pettersson had no shots. Boeser scored once on the powerplay and once on a beautiful individual move, but those aren’t the types of plays that are repeatable that we rely on.

Jordan Binnington was the hero of the Blues winning the Stanley Cup in 2019. In game one, he was the hero for Vancouver. The goalie was beat five times on only 22 shots which is just a putrid performance. Binnington is well known for his confidence and his ability to rebound. Anytime he struggled last year, he rebounded in his next game.

I don’t think Vancouver scores three powerplay goals again. I think Jordan Binnington rebounds and makes some saves for the Blues.


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