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Pete Truszkowski gives us his pick for Thursday's playoff games including Avalanche vs. Golden Knights

Golden Knights vs. Avalanche - Game 6 NHL Picks

Colorado Avalanche vs. Vegas Golden Knights Predictions

Vegas leads 3-2

The New York Islanders punched their ticket to the NHL’s semi-finals on Wednesday night. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens did the same earlier in the week. Now, one spot remains and it’s going to come down to the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche.

Vegas has the opportunity to punch their ticket in front of their home fans on Thursday. The Golden Knights trailed the series two games to none, but they’ve stormed back to take a 3-2 series lead. Their biggest win to date came in Game Five in Colorado on Tuesday when they erased a 2-0 third period deficit and then watched Mark Stone win the game in overtime.

In these playoffs, when the road team has won game five, they are 6-0 in game six back at home. The latest example was last night when the Isles stomped the Bruins at Nassau Coliseum in game six after winning game 5 in Boston. With crowds now officially becoming a factor, it seems like momentum is real and these Stanley Cup playoffs are proving that. Crowds are crazier than ever with people finally returning to a normal life and teams are taking advantage when on their home ice coming off big wins.

Entering these playoffs, these were the two best teams in the league during the regular season. Vegas finished with the same amount of points as the Avalanche and ranked top ten in most analytical categories. However, most had Colorado in a tier of their own. The Avalanche ranked first in expected goal rate, shot attempt share, high danger chance percentage and 5-on-5 goal differential. They won the President’s Trophy and swept the first round of the playoffs against the St. Louis Blues.

Colorado won the first two games of the series, but midway through game two you could feel a seismic shift. Vegas was clearly the better team the second half of that game but they lost due to a controversial penalty call in overtime. When they returned home for games three and four, they dominated and evened the series. In game five, Vegas showed tremendous heart in battling back from a two goal deficit and then got a huge winning goal from captain Mark Stone. Now, they have an opportunity in their own arena to move on to round three.

The first two games in Sin City were absolutely dominated by the Golden Knights. They had an expected goal advantage of 6.43 to 2.31. Vegas generated 32 high danger chances while the Avs had just nine. Philipp Grubauer kept game three close, but he couldn’t do the same in game four.

Colorado is reeling and they haven’t felt pressure like this all season long. Prior to this series, I would have made Colorado favorites in this game, but there’s no denying that Vegas has outplayed the Avalanche and they have all the momentum.

I was at the Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night and as soon as I walked into the building, I knew Boston had no chance. The Isles’ dominated en route to a 6-2 victory. I expect a similar atmosphere in Vegas where the crowd will be at full capacity with no restrictions. In these playoffs, teams are stepping on the necks of their opponents in spots like this and I expect Vegas to do the same on Thursday night. It seems like sharp bettors agree, with this line being bet all the way from a pick’em on the opening line to Vegas as sizable -135 favorites at time of writing.

The Pick: Vegas ML @ -135 (Click to bet)


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