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NHL handicapper Pete Truszkowski kicks off the Second Round with his pick for Avalanche vs. Stars

Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars

BET: Stars Moneyline @ +145

The second round of the NHL playoffs kick off on Saturday night when the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars get together in the Edmonton bubble for game one of their series.

During the regular season, the Avalanche were the 2nd best team in the Western Conference while Dallas was the 4th best team. After the round robin tournament during the opening part of this tournament, Colorado maintained their two seed while Dallas rose to the 3rd seed.

Speaking of the round-robin, these teams actually played each other earlier this month during that tournament. Hopefully for the Dallas Stars, it isn’t a sign of things to come in this series. Colorado defeated Dallas by a score of 4-0. Colorado had over 59% of the shot attempts, 56.5% of high danger chances and 62.8% of expected goals.

However, if we’re going to rely on past results, it would be wrong to leave out the season series results. Dallas defeated Colorado in all four games they played against each other. Colorado’s high scoring offense was held to just 6 goals in those four games. Granted, these games took place what seems like years ago, but the rosters are the same then as they are now.

Speaking of Dallas’ defense, that is what butters their bread. Only the Boston Bruins gave up less goals per game than the Dallas Stars during the regular season. Not only were their results good, their process was solid as well. Their expected goals had them as the 7th best team in terms of expected goals allowed per hour.

During these playoffs, Dallas has given up more goals than they are accustomed to. This can be attributed to their goaltending dropping slightly. Ben Bishop has missed most of the postseason with an injury. Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin is considered one of the best backup goalies in the league and this can be supported by the fact that he posted a .930 save percentage this past season. In the playoffs, that save percentage has dropped to .919. Still a very good number, but Khudobin is only recently starting to round into form.

Dallas as a whole is just getting going. They’ve won three straight games after falling behind the Calgary Flames two games to one. Dallas was the better team in that series and deserved to win.

However, their performance paled in comparison to the performance of the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado needed just five games to take care of the Arizona Coyotes, and I’m surprised they needed that 5th game. The Avalanche won both game four and game five by an identical 7-1 scoreline. This is hockey, not baseball. 7-1 scores aren’t usually a thing.

It’s important to note that Arizona is not a playoff caliber team. If the regular season was never paused, Arizona would have never made the playoffs. Their lack of quality was on full display in their series against the Avalanche. Anyone who thinks that Colorado will be able to drag Dallas around the way they did to Arizona is in for a rude awakening. Dallas is a borderline elite team in this league.

Colorado is obviously led by what some consider the best player in hockey. If he’s not the best, he’s certainly in the top five, and we’re talking about Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon put up 93 points in just 69 games during the regular season, and he followed that up with adding 13 points in the first 8 playoff games. MacKinnon single-handedly closed out the Coyotes, scoring two goals and recording 6 points in the last two games.

While many appreciate Colorado for their offense, it’s easy to sleep on their defense. No team is giving up less goals per game in these playoffs than the Avalanche, averaging conceding just 1.63 times per game. During the regular season, they were a top-6 team in terms of goals allowed.

Both of these teams are very good defensively, but Colorado’s offense is much better than Dallas. Colorado was the NHL’s fourth best team in terms of goals per game, averaging 3.37. Dallas was the 6th worst, finding the net just 2.58 times per game on average.

Colorado obviously is the better team, hence the line in this game and this series. For the game, the Avalanche are -162 to win. For the series, Colorado is -225.

I’m not saying Dallas is going to win, but I think the lines are a little disrespectful in both these cases. Dallas is not the Arizona Coyotes. This will be a well-played series with close games between two good teams.

You have to remember that Dallas is coming off playing a much better hockey team in much closer games. Are they more prepared for battle early in the series? It’s nice to be able to dominate a team like Colorado did, but are they ready to get in there and play real, tough, intense playoff hockey right away? Or will it take time to adjust in their first real challenge?

The line is way too large to even think about betting the Avalanche in this game. If you like the Avalanche side, I would probably play the Dallas Stars team total under 2.5 goals at -138. It’s less juice and if Colorado wins, I think Dallas will be held under 3 goals.

However, personally, I’m taking the value with the Dallas Stars. This is one of the better teams in the league who is playing strong hockey right now. The oddsmakers are drinking the kool-aid of “Colorado just scored 14 goals in their last two games.” This is the definition of buying high on the Avalanche. They always say buy low, not buy high.1`


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