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Three picks from handicapper Pete Truszkowski on Tuesday's NHL slate

Washington Captials vs New York Islanders Predictions

The Islanders have dominated this series. There’s a reason they have a 3-0 series lead. Anyone at this point who is still favoring the Capitals is doing so based completely off their reputation and the allure of some of the star players on their team.

Vegas agrees; for the first time in this series Washington is an underdog. For transparency’s sake, I am a diehard fan of the NY Islanders and for that reason, I personally will not be betting on them to win this game.

However, as I’ve noted in the past, Washington has spent the majority of this series attempting to play defense and trying to keep the Islanders out of their defensive zone. It hasn’t worked. The Islanders scored four goals in game one and five goals in game two. They only scored twice in game three, but the underlying metrics actually say that might have been their most dominant offensive game as they posted their highest expected goals number in that contest.

The Isles achilles heel has been their special teams. Their powerplay has been underwhelming, converting on under 17% of opportunities in the postseason which is slightly below average. However, their penalty kill is the reason that they haven’t won every game they’ve played in this postseason. The Isles have conceded 5 goals in three games in this series, and three of them are on the penalty kill.

I expect Washington to come out aggressively and take chances as this could be their last game. The Islanders will end up taking a few penalties and the Capitals powerplay could take advantage of the Isles lone weak spot. On the other end of the ice, we’ve already seen the Islanders skating circles around the Capitals defenders.

I think both teams score at least twice in this game. Some books out there are offering over 4.5 at -150. Most books have the line at over/under 5 at around -135. Avoid the books that have the total at 5.5

PICK: Isles/Washington over 5 (-135)

Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars Predictions

This series might look like the closest series of them all thus far on paper.

Tied at two games a piece heading into game 5, we’ve had a game go to overtime and we’ve had another game decided in the final minute of regulation. All but one of the games was a one goal game.

The line in game one of this series was basically a pick’em with both teams going off between -105 and -110. Now as the series has progressed, the line continues to move towards making Dallas a bigger favorite and that’s for good reason.

Despite the close results on the scoreboard, the underlying stats and possession metrics send a different message. Through four games of this series:

Dallas has 217 shot attempts, compared to Calgary’s 156. (58.2%)

Dallas has 38 high danger chances, compared to Calgary’s 21. (64.4%)

Dallas has 8.14 expected goals, compared to Calgary’s 4.22. (65.9%)

So why is this series so close? Dallas likely has the best goaltending duo in the league, but in these playoffs they have struggled. During the regular season, Dallas had a .920 save percentage. In these playoffs, they have an .887 save percentage. Expect more saves from Dallas as we move forward.

I think Dallas is the better team, they’ve been playing like the better team, and there is some value on their line.

PICK: Dallas Stars ML -118

Chicago Blackhawks vs Vegas Golden Knights Predictions

Alright, Chicago got their one win. It was cute. Welcome to the adult table.

Now, Vegas is probably going to take care of business on Tuesday and end their season.

Chicago won game four despite being outshot 49 to 24. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has had a crazy postseason; in 6 of the 8 games he’s played he’s been average to below average. In the two other games (game 5 vs Edmonton as well), he’s literally been the best goalie in hockey history.

We’re gonna expect that Crawford will not make 48 saves in this one.

To show how big of a mismatch this series is: Chicago needed their goalie to make 48 saves. They also needed Vegas’ goaltender Robin Lehner to accidentally head-butt the puck into his own net. All of this to squeak out a 2-1 win that became 3-1 when DeBrincat scored an empty net goal.

Similar to my feelings on Colorado coming out on Monday and taking care of the undeserving underdog, I think Vegas will do the same on Tuesday. I don’t think Vegas will win 7-1 like the Avalanche did, but Vegas does not want to play more games than they have to. They would like to rest up while the other teams in their conference play a potential game 6 or game 7.

I expect a solid performance from the Golden Knights. They are a much better and structured team. I expect them to take care of business and win this game in regulation. Chicago’s season will end with a whimper.

PICK: Vegas To Win In Regulation (-120)


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