So pumped for hockey to be back. There’s still preseason games going on for most of the league but today and tomorrow we get an early start to the NHL regular season with two NHL Global Series games in Prague, Czech Republic between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks.
Last year was my best ever betting on hockey, winning a ton of money and making people who actually stuck with me and read this blog a solid amount. I refined my process a bit more of breaking down games and it proved to be successful. I’m always trying to learn better ways to look at games, analyze stats and then still go on my feel for two teams on how that game is going to play out. Let’s have another great year and start it off hot! There’s always a bit of a slow start to the season as teams find their identity and get in the groove, so as usual I’ll be treading more lightly on the early couple months of the season and ramp it up as it becomes more predictable for me.
Predators vs. Sharks (2:00)
Last season the Nashville Predators finished the year in fifth place of the Central Division, making the Western Conference playoffs in the second Wild Card spot with a 45-30-7 record. They were the sacrificial lamb in the first round to the Stanley Cup Champion, just as Daryl Suter predicted, getting swept by the Avalanche after a waste of eight days. In the regular season last year the Preds were twelfth in the NHL in scoring, averaging 3.2 goals per game, very efficient in shooting percentage (10.7%) while generating an average of 29.74 shots per game, ninth fewest in the league. They had the fifth best power play in the league with a 24.4% efficiency. Despite having a fantastic goalie in Juuse Saros, who could be a Vezina candidate, they weren’t as great as you would expect defensively, as they allowed an average of 3.05 goals per game, 16th most in the NHL. Their penalty kill was 79.2%, 15th worst in the league. Nashville made two significant offseason moves adding solid veterans to their lineup, acquiring defenseman Ryan McDonagh from the Tampa Bay Lightning and signing forward Nino Niederreiter. Both of them are solid additions that should help their back end improve in front of Saros.
The Sharks had a big fall from their playoff runs from a few years ago and were pretty bad last year, finishing last season in twelfth place in the West and missing the playoffs with a 32-37-13 record. This team was bad last year and I can’t see them getting any better this season. I’d expect them to being a likely lottery team this year. San Jose will have a new bench boss, with former Rangers coach David Quinn taking over as the new head coach. In the offseason, the Sharks lost one of their long time franchise players in Brent Burns in a trade to Carolina, getting forward Steven Lorentz, a goalie prospect and a draft pick in return. Last year, the Sharks were pretty bad on both ends of the ice. They had one of the worst offenses in the league, averaging just 2.57 goals per game, third fewest in the NHL. That’s not a huge surprise seeing that they only generated an average of 29.27 shots per game, seventh fewest in the league. Their power play only scored on 19% of their chances, eleventh fewest in the NHL and I’d expect that to get worse without Burns this year. San Jose wasn’t great on the back end last year either, allowing an average of 3.18 goals per game, twelfth most in the league. Shockingly, the Sharks’ penalty kill was very good last season, second best in the NHL, killing off 85.2% of their penalties.
These two Western Conference teams played three times with the Preds sweeping the Sharks and shutting them out twice. They won 3-1 at home on October 26, blew out the Sharks with an 8-0 victory in San Jose on March 5th and then getting a 1-0 overtime win in a double shutout at home on April 12th.
I really like the Predators to start off the season with a win today in Prague, but I don’t think the moneyline is worth betting on at -190 and will take the Preds in regulation for half a unit at the more affordable -115 price. I’d lean the under, but not enough to bet on it.
.5u Predators in regulation (-115)
Record: 0-0 (0 units)
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