The NHL drops the puck on the 2021 season tonight. Although it won’t be as different as the playoffs in the bubble last year, this year’s going to still be pretty different than a typical year. There won’t be fans in the stands (besides Dallas, Arizona and Florida which will have a limited capacity), but teams will be playing a shortened, divisional only schedule in their own barns. The divisions for the year have been realigned and have a baseball style schedule of multiple games in a row against the same teams. These teams are gonna hate each other playing so many times through the year.
I’ve been pretty successful in the past on betting hockey, especially during the season but have had some bad swings in the regular season. I’m changing up my gambling approach to the NHL a bit this season and am going to try to write up daily breakdowns of each game and what I’m seeing. Most nights, especially when there’s huge slates like tomorrow, my breakdowns will probably be a lot shorter than todays.
Flyers vs. Penguins (5:30pm)
The Flyers are one of the top contenders out of the East this year. Pittsburgh has lost some talent over the past few years but still have some of the best players in the league. Last year, these in state rivals met three times with the Pens winning 7-1, 4-3 and then the Flyers winning in a 3-0 shutout. I think Tristan Jarry did a solid job last year in net and should be decent now stepping up to his starting role for Pittsburgh with Matt Murray going to Ottawa in the offseason. Tonight though, I think the Flyers outscore the Pens and Carter Hart, one of the best young goalies in the show starts this season with a win. I’m taking the Flyers here for a unit at a cheap price of only -115.
Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens (7:00pm)
Despite having some of the best players in the NHL, the Leafs are a disappointed year in and year out. And last year was no different. That being said, they’re my pick this year to win the North (all Canada) division. Montreal’s a young team that I expect to improve this year, and backed by Carey Price in net, you can’t bet against the Habs. Last year when these teams played, Montreal swept the Leafs, 6-5, 5-2 and 2-1. I’m laying off this game.
Lightning vs. Blackhawks (8:00pm)
The Stanley Cup champ Lightning are clearly still one of the best teams in hockey in every aspect. The Blackhawks on the other hand were one of the worst in the league last year and this year they lose their two time cup champ goaltender in Crawford and their captain, Jonathan Toews is out with health issues. Last year these teams split their season series 4-2 Tampa and 5-2 Chicago. I don’t see how Tampa could lose this game to open the season as they raise their Cup banner. The moneyline on the Bolts is expensive at -250 tonight, so I’m splitting it up with half unit on the ML and half unit on the puck line. I’d probably lean the over here as I think former Vegas backup Malcolm Subban I think is gonna get beat pretty hard here, but I don’t really expect the Blackhawks to score much on Vazzy, so I’m skipping the high over at 6.5.
Oilers vs. Canucks (10:00pm)
The Oilers despite having the two best players in the league last year in McDavid and Draisaitl, weren’t good in the postseason and got bounced in the bonus play-in round of the playoffs last year. Vancouver did the opposite and especially when Thatcher Demko got the nod in net, made a run in the playoffs ahead of schedule with all their young talent. I’d guess both these teams have a decent season. Last year these teams met four times and split the series: 3-2 EDM, 5-2 VAN, 3-2 EDM, 4-2 VAN. I’m not touching this game but it should be a good one to watch.
Avalanche vs. Blues (10:30pm)
The Avs are my pick to win the Stanley Cup this year. They were a wagon last year and got bounced in the playoffs faced with a ton of bad injury luck. I think the Blues still have a solid team but they’re not as stellar as the miracle team that won the Cup two years ago. This should be a good, close game. I’m taking the Avs ML at -140 for half a unit. I’ll be looking at the over on this one live once the game starts, these teams went over in 3 of their 4 regular season matchups last year, although with Binnington in net betting the over on STL always scares me so I’ll see how this game starts before betting the over 6 pregame.
1u Flyers ML (-115)
.5u Tampa ML (-250)
.5u Tampa -1.5 (+105)
.5u Avs ML (-140)
Record: 0-0 (0 units, clean start to begin the year)
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