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Star defensemen to shine in Game 1 of Oilers-Canucks

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Jake Guentzel picked up a sweat-free victory for us with his shot prop Tuesday, but things didn't work out with Seth Jarvis or Nathan MacKinnon.

Jarvis was on the ice for 21 of the Hurricanes' shots and more than two expected goals, but none ended up beating Igor Shesterkin. MacKinnon failed to get the job done in the nightcap, missing the net five times and coming up one shot short of his total versus the Stars.

I liked the process - the results simply didn't follow. We'll look to change that with three more plays for Wednesday's NHL card.

Matthew Tkachuk: Over 3.5 shots

The Bruins always seem to bring out the best in Tkachuk when it comes to shooting the puck. He's recorded four or more shots in eight of the past nine home games against Boston, including this year's series opener.

Tkachuk had five shots on eight attempts in a Game 1 defeat while leading all Panthers forwards in ice time.

One important factor in backing Tkachuk: he's skating on the top line with Aleksander Barkov.

Since last season, Tkachuk's averaged 10.4 shots and 19.5 attempts per 60 minutes of five-on-five play with Barkov.

Those numbers are noticeably higher than the 8.5 shots and 16.1 attempts per 60 he's managed with Sam Bennett as his center.

With Tkachuk skating on the top line at even strength and serving as a focal point on the power play - and with the Panthers in desperate need of a win (they can't hit the road down two) - I expect Tkachuk to shoot early and often in this one.

Odds: -140 (playable to -150)

Quinn Hughes: Over 0.5 assists

The screws generally tighten in the playoffs, but I have a hard time believing the Canucks can neutralize this lethal Oilers offense - especially without star goaltender Thatcher Demko.

They'll need to score to keep up, and captain Hughes will have to be one of the primary facilitators. That wasn't a problem in the regular season, as he piled up seven assists and eight points over four head-to-head showings.

Since 2022, Hughes has 11 assists over eight meetings against his Pacific Division rivals.

The Oilers aren't bulletproof defensively - a mediocre Kings offense averaged three goals per game in the opening round - so there should be some goals on the table for the Canucks. Look for Hughes to get involved in the fun.

Odds: -120 (playable to -135)

Evan Bouchard: Over 0.5 assists

The Oilers were an unstoppable force offensively for all but a month during the regular season. They picked up where they left off in the playoffs, netting 22 goals over a five-game series against L.A.

The Canucks did a great job of overcoming the Demko injury in the opening round, but the Predators don't hold a candle to the Oilers in terms of high-end talent. A 1-2 center punch of Ryan O'Reilly and Tommy Novak doesn't quite match Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

I think the favored Oilers are going to cause a world of problems for the Canucks and bring the Demko injury to light.

Given that Bouchard routinely plays 24-plus minutes - a lot of which come behind either McDavid or Draisaitl - he should have ample opportunity to make his mark offensively.

Odds: -130 (playable to -145)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X at @ToddCordell.

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