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Pete Truszkowski is back with picks for all of Thursday's NHL Playoff games

NHL Playoff Predictions - Thursday, May 27

Thursday’s slate has just two games as the first round of the NHL playoffs is starting to wind down. The Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators are facing elimination while the Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes try to move on to the next round.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens Prediction

Toronto Leads 3-1

Of all first round series, this might be the most boring and disappointing one. The Leafs and Canadiens have a long, storied rivalry. Montreal has shown flashes of being a very good team over the past few years. However, those flashes have been unsustained and they also aren’t present in this series.

If Montreal was on top of their game, we could have had an exciting series with the potential for an upset. Instead of playing their high octane style, the Canadiens have tried turning this series into a low-event coin flip. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, it seems like the Leafs are just fine playing that style as well.

Toronto is rather prohibitive home favorites to close out this series, but there is no value in betting them here. The Leafs do have a recent history of making things more exciting than they should be, so I’d have no problem with taking a +200 shot on the Habs here.

Entering this series, we wondered which version of Carey Price we would get. Price has had a very good series for Montreal, but they just haven’t been able to score goals in support of him. After being shutout in game four, Montreal has just four goals in the first four games of this series.

Jack Campbell has been very solid for the Leafs in his first NHL playoff appearance. He’s posted a +4.2 goals saved above expectation while stopping 96.5% of the shots he’s faced. As mentioned above, he is coming off a shutout in his last game.

The under has hit in three of the four games in this series thus far. It likely should have hit in all four games, but Montreal’s coach Dominique Ducharme decided to pull Carey Price with seven minutes left down three goals in game two.

I see no reason as to why we’ll see an explosion of goals here. Both goalies are playing well and Toronto is perfectly content grinding their way to victory in this series.

Bet: Under 5.5 Goals @ -125

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Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators Prediction

Carolina Leads 3-2

Man, this pandemic thing really made us appreciate the importance of fans in arenas. This series between the Hurricanes and Predators has been tremendous as both arenas are allowing nearly full capacity. The fans have been loud and boisterous.

It’s no surprise that through five games, the home team has won every game in this series. Home ice advantage is alive and well again.

Nashville is a home underdog to keep their season alive, as the Hurricanes were clearly the better team during the regular season and have earned their role as favorites in this series. However, this series has been closer than many expected.

In fact, the 5-on-5 goals in this series are dead equal at ten a piece. The Hurricanes possess a slight edge in terms of expected goal rate, but not one that would be overly obvious should you watch the games. In addition, Nashville has done a great job of limiting Carolina’s high danger chances throughout this series.

The two goaltenders in this series have both fared pretty well, but it seems like as the series has gone on, Juuse Saros for the Predators has been a more steady presence than Alex Nedeljkovic for the Canes. It seems like Nashville’s goals have come slightly easier than Carolina’s. However, the numbers suggest these two goaltenders are near equal.

At this point, it’s hard to ignore the home team in the underdog role looking to keep their season alive. Carolina is likely the better team and I expect them to eventually win this series, but I think the Preds are worthy of a bet to force a game seven.

Bet: Nashville ML @ +124


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