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NHL handicapper Pete Truszkowki gets the week started with two picks for Monday's games

Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

BET: Lightning Moneyline @ -117

Has there been a harder team to read in these playoffs than the Boston Bruins? The league’s best team during the regular season has been Jekyll and Hyde throughout the Return to Play tournament. It started with a brutal round robin seeding tournament. Then, they dominated the underrated Carolina Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay might be the best team in the league, but Boston looks completely overmatched in this series thus far. Boston came out early and took a 3-0 lead in Game One of the series and held on to win. Ever since they scored that third goal, it’s been all Lightning.

I’ve always expected to see this series go the length and for the first time I’m starting to doubt that. At this point, it’s hard to argue the fact that the Lightning have been better than Boston in this series. However, it hasn’t been as dramatic as the score lines represent. Game Three saw Tampa pillage Boston by a score of 7-1. Game Four was a more respectable 3-1 score line.

Tampa Bay was the better team in both of these games, don’t get me wrong. However, in terms of expected goals, both games were under 55% in favor of Tampa Bay. Boston’s biggest issue stems from their goaltending.

Jaroslav Halak hasn’t been able to make a big save for Boston. In fact, he’s given up some back-breaking goals in this series. There was no better example of that than the second Tampa Bay goal in Game Four. Halak basically whiffed on the shot with his glove to give the Lightning a lead they never relinquished.

On the other end, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been extremely solid. There is no question who the better goalie has been. Halak hasn’t been a starter in nearly half a decade and it is easier to hide your warts when you are a backup.

I’m torn because I think I might be giving up on the Bruins too early here. However, the Bubble has produced some shorter series. An older team like the Bruins might just be ready to return to their kids and families. That’s baseless speculation of course, but we’ve seen some older teams go down quickly in series.

Tampa has been the better team in this series. They’ve gotten better goaltending. And I’m not entirely convinced that Boston isn’t already thinking about going home. At the short number, I’ll bet on the favorite.

Dallas Stars vs. Colorado Avalanche

BET: Dallas vs. Colorado Over 6 @ +100

Well, what a surprise. Game Five of the Stars vs. Avalanche series is an elimination game, and it’s not the team most expected to face an elimination game this quickly in the series.

Colorado was a substantial -225 series favorite to eliminate Dallas, but here we are and Dallas has a three game to one series lead. How has Dallas done it?

Well, Colorado’s goalie can’t make a save.

Game Four was basically over ten minutes into the game. Dallas had put three goals on the board before Colorado even put a shot on the board. Pavel Francouz, the Avalanche goalie, could not help his team survive their slow start. In fact, him bobbling an early shot and spitting out a gross rebound sparked the explosion from the Stars.

Francouz was not expected to be this bad when he took over for the injured Philipp Grubauer in Game One. In fact, during the regular season, he was slightly better than Grubauer in terms of save percentage, goals against average, and goals saved above expectation. However, he’s only stopped 86.2% of the Dallas shots he’s faced thus far in the series.

You’re not going to win playoff games that way. Goals are way too valuable to be giving away.

All four previous games in this series have gone over, and it’s for good reason. In fact, most of these games have flown over and not been particularly close to the total.

Colorado might have the best player remaining in this tournament in Nathan MacKinnon. He has eight points in four games in this series already. He can dominate a game, and in terms of shot attempts and expected goals, he does that basically every night already.

Anton Khudobin has not been great for Dallas in net, but he has been better than Francouz. He was beat four times in Game Four by the Avalanche who have gotten contributions from the likes of Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin over the past couple of games. If players in addition to MacKinnon’s line start scoring, it’s a good sign for Colorado.

On the Dallas side, their top line centered by Tyler Seguin has had a great series. The trio with Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn has 17 points in four games thus far. Joe Pavelski and the second line has been the Stars’ best in terms of generating scoring chances and shot attempts. Players like Roope Hintz and Radek Faksa are getting on the board as well, which shows a balanced Dallas attack.

Two offenses who are getting production from up and down the line-up. One goalie who has been brutal, and one who’s been average at best. Four straight games have gone over the total. We are not going against the streak here. No need to pick a winning team when you can just root for offense.


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