Last night the NHL season kicked off and I went 2-2 with the Lightning surprisingly losing to the shorthanded Penguins and the Golden Knights making the first game in Seattle Kraken history a loss. Tonight, a five game slate with more ten teams making their season debuts.
Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens (7:00)
Last year (like every year lately), the Leafs were projected to be a contender to go to the Stanley Cup, especially in an easy North Division. In the regular season, the Leafs were 7-3 against the Habs and were 4-3 on the puck line in those games that they won. Statistically, the Leafs were better than Montreal in both goals for and goals against. The Leafs had 3-1 lead over Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs last year before the Habs came all the way back to win that series before riding Carey Price’s incredible play in goal all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they ultimately met their match against the Cup Champ Lightning. This season, the Leafs are largely the same team with an elite offense lead by Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner. The Habs lost talent in the offseason and especially without Carey Price to start the season, I don’t expect them to get that same bottled up magic that they had in the postseason last year. I’ll take Toronto ML for half a unit and regulation for a half unit to cut down some juice here. I’d lean the over in this game, but not enough to bet on it.
Capitals vs. Rangers (7:30)
The Capitals made it to the playoffs last year before getting bounced 4-1 in the first round by the Boston Bruins. The Rangers had a very up and down season with highs and lows but ultimately missed the playoffs. The Caps are lead by the greatest goal scorer of all time in Ovi, complemented by Backstrom. Tonight, they are without Backstrom, who’s out with injury and Ovi isn’t 100% coming off a preseason injury. The Rangers are 6-4 in their last ten matchups against the Caps and Vitek Vanecek doesn’t give me much faith in the Caps goaltending. I’ll take the Rangers here for half a unit.
Avalanche vs. Blackhawks (10:00)
The Avs were the biggest power house in hockey last year, winning the Presidents Cup with the best record in hockey before losing in the West Division finals to the Vegas Golden Knights. This year, they improved their goaltending with Darcy Kuemper coming over from Arizona. The Avs should without question win the Central this season and be a top contender to win the Cup. The Blackhawks improved in the offseason with Vezina goaltender Marc Andre Fleury getting traded to Chicago to Vegas for pretty much nothing and they get Jonathan Toews back, who missed most of last season for medical reasons. Despite those improvements, the Hawks still likely come up short. I’ll take the Avs here for half a unit.
Oilers vs. Canucks (10:00)
The Oilers season came to a surprising end in the first round of the playoffs last year, where they got swept by the Winnipeg Jets. Lead by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, this team could score but on the defensive end, they’re not good and if anything their back end got worse in the offseason. The Canucks have a lot of young talent but have a good way to go to put it all together to have a contender and even if they make the playoffs in a weak Pacific Division, won’t get far. I’d lean the Oilers win this game but not enough to bet on it. I’d also lean the over but I’ll stay off that as well and skip this game entirely.
Ducks vs. Jets (10:00)
Only the Buffalo Sabres were worse than the Anaheim Ducks last season. They were bad on both ends of the ice and are in a rebuilding year that I’d expect for them to contend for a lottery pick with the Sabres. The Jets are backstopped by former Vezina winner Connor Hellebuyck, have a solid top six on their offense and improved their defense with the additions of Brenden Dillon and Nate Schmidt. I think the price on the Jets is way too cheap tonight so I’ll load up on that for 1.5 units.
.5u Toronto ML (-190)
.5u Toronto in regulation (-118)
.5u Rangers ML (-110)
.5u Avalanche ML (-190)
1.5u Jets ML (-140)
Record (Regular Season): 2-2 (-1.54 units)