Last night we kicked off the NHL season in the USA with two game and I went 2-1 to win 0.44 units. Tonight we have six games, let’s crush these for two profitable nights in a row!
Hurricanes vs. Blue Jackets (7:00)
Both of these teams made significant changes to their lineups in the offseason. After a Blue Jackets picked up one of the most sought after free agents in the NHL, Johnny Hockey. Gaudreau surprised a lot of people going to Columbus but he’ll make a huge impact on the Jackets lineup, scoring 115 points (40 goals, 75 assists) with Calgary last season. Last season the Blue Jackets finished in tenth place in the Eastern Conference, missing the playoffs with a lousy 37-38-7 record. Columbus was a team I bet a lot of overs on last year, since they had a decent enough offense, averaging 3.15 goals per game but a terrible defense with bad goaltending, allowing a fifth most in the NHL average of 3.62 goals per game. Their power play wasn’t efficient, scoring on just 18.6% of those opportunities and their penalty kill wasn’t much better at 78.6%. They definitely improved offensively in the offseason adding Gaudreau, but they didn’t do anything to address goaltending and they have rookie goalie Daniil Tarasov confirmed between the pipes tonight with Elvis Merzlikins out with illness. Carolina was a very good team last season, winning the Metropolitan Division with a 54-20-8 record. They beat the Bruins in seven games in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Rangers in seven games in the second round. They made a pretty big splash in the offseason as well, acquiring Brent Burns from the Sharks to replace Vinny Trochek, who went to the Rangers. They’ll also get better mid season, when newly acquired forward Max Pacioretty comes back from injury. Last season the Canes were very good on both ends of the ice. They had the ninth highest scoring offense in the NHL, averaging 3.38 goals per game and had the best defense in the league, allowing just 2.44 goals per game. They had the 13th best power play in the league, capitalizing at at 22% rate and the best penalty kill in the NHL, killing off an impressive 88% on their penalties. Freddy Andersen was one of the best goalies in the NHL last season with a 2.17 GAA and .922 save percentage. These teams played each other four times last season with the Hurricanes winning three of those four games. The moneyline on this game is too expensive for me to bet, especially this early in the season but the Canes should definitely win. I’ll take the Hurricanes in regulation for half a unit.
Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs (7:00)
This big divisional rivalry didn’t have much luster last season with the skill of these teams, but by the second round of the playoffs both of these teams were in the same spot…the golf course. The Habs were the worst team in the NHL last season with a 22-49-11 record. They’re a young team with talent but they’re just not ready to compete yet and I’d expect this season to be pretty close to as abysmal. After hiring Martin St. Louis midway through last season, he got the team going and they did play much better than they did earlier in the season, the skill just isn’t there. Last year, the Canadiens had the sixth lowest scoring offense in the NHL averaging just 2.66 goals per game and they allowed the most goals in the league, an average of 3.87 goals per game. They had the second worst power play in the league, scoring at just a 13.7%. rate and their 75.5% penalty kill was sixth worst in the league. In the offseason they drafted Juraj Slafkovsky first overall, traded to get Kirby Dach from the Blackhawks, added defenseman Mike Matheson and took the salary dump of Evgenii Dadonov from Vegas. Despite some slumps and goaltending issues, the Leafs were a fantastic team last regular season, finishing in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 54-21-7 record. Austen Matthews and the Leafs offense were the second best in the NHL, averaging 3.8 goals per game. They had the best power play in the league, scoring at a 27.3% rate. Their penalty kill was pretty good too, eighth best in the NHL at 82.1%. Defensively Toronto wasn’t great, allowing an average of 3.07 goals per game and they addressed their goaltending issues in the offseason bringing in veteran Matt Murray and young goalie Ilya Samsonov. Despite such a difference in talent, these rivals split their four games last season. The moneyline is too expensive for me to trust the Leafs here but I’ll take the Leafs in regulation and Leafs TT over 3.5 for half a unit each.
Capitals vs. Bruins (7:00)
This should be a fantastic game to kick off the season on TNT between these two talented Eastern Conference teams who both made the playoffs last year in the Wild Card spots, both losing in the first round. The Bruins last season went 51-26-5 and ended up losing in the first round to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. In the offseason, the B’s acquired Pavel Zacha from the Devils, brought back David Krejci after a season in his home country of Czechia and most importantly they brought back captain Patrice Bergeron for one last ride. They’ll be without Brad Marchant to start the season, who is still recovering from hip surgery. Last year the Bruins offense was around league average, scoring an average of 3.09 goals per game. They were one of the best defensive teams in the NHL, averaging 2.66 goals per game. Their power play had a 21.2% efficiency and they had the ninth best penalty kill in the league at 81.3%. The Capitals went 44-26-12 last year, making the playoffs and losing in six games in the first round to the President’s Trophy winning Florida Panthers. Alex Ovechkin continued to climb closer to Gretzky’s all time goals record, putting 50 of them in the back of the net last year. The Caps will be without two of their best players in Nick Backstrom, who had hip surgery in the offseason and Tom Wilson, who tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs last year. Washington made key moves at goaltending, bringing in Darcy Kuemper to be their number one, who just won the Cup in Colorado and Charlie Lindgren to back him up. Along with that they brought in Dylan Strome, Henrik Borgstrom, and Erik Gustafsson from Chicago and Connor Brown from Ottawa. Last year the Caps were pretty good on both ends of the ice. They scored the tenth most goals in the league, an average of 3.29 goals per game and allowed a twelfth fewest average of 2.95 goals per game. Surprisingly their power play was the tenth worst in the league with a 18.8% efficiency despite Ovi ripping clap bombs from the top of the circle. Their penalty kill was twelfth best in the NHL killing off 80.4% of their penalties. In the three games these teams played last season, the B’s won two of them and all three games went over 5.5. I’d give a slight lean to Ovi and the Caps here at home tonight, but not enough to bet on what I expect to be a pretty close game and easily the best one on tonight’s slate. I’d also lean the over but I’ll stay off it this early in the season with two teams that have potential to be good defensively with solid goaltending.
Avalanche vs. Blackhawks (9:30)
The Avalanche were incredible last season, winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001. They were easily the best team in the league last year and as favorites to win the Cup from day 1 of the season to the night that they lifted Lord Stanley, no other team in the league was as deserving of it. Colorado locked up first place in the Western Conference pretty early with a 56-19-7 record, ending the regular season just three points short of Florida for the President’s Trophy. On their way to lifting the Cup, they swept Nashville in the first round, beat the Blues in six games in the second round, swept McDavid and the Oilers and then beat the Bolts in six games to ruin their hopes of three peat. They once again open the season as favorite to win the Cup. Last year the Avs had the fourth highest scoring offense in the NHL, averaging 3.76 goals per game and they allowed the tenth fewest goals in hockey, an average of 2.83 goals per game. Their power play was seventh best in the league, scoring on 24% of their chances and their penalty kill had a 79.7% kill rate. Of course a team that good had to lose some key pieces in the offseason with Nazem Kadri (87 points in 71 games), Andre Burakovsky (over 60 points) and goaltender Darcy Kuemper. They brought in Alexandar Georgiev from the Rangers to join Pavel Francous in the goalie room and acquired forward Evan Rodrigues. Although I don’t think they go back to back and win the Cup again, I’d still expect them to be a fantastic team this year. The Blackhawks on the other hand were horrendous and that organization keeps getting worse and worse. Chicago went 28-42-12 last season and they were one of the worst teams in the NHL on both ends of the ice. They got even worse in the offseason and I am shocked that Patrick Kane is still on this team and will more than likely be dealt away before the trade deadline in what’s sure to be a blockbuster move involving arguable the best American born hockey player we’ve ever seen, who took them to raising three Stanley Cups. They traded away 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat (which was a horrendous trade for Chicago) and former first round pick Kirby Dach during the draft, additionally the lost Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, Erik Gustafsson, Henrik Borgstrom, Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia. They brought in forwards Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou and goaltender Petr Mrazek to fill their net. Last year the Hawks had the fourth lowest scoring offense in the NHL, averaging only 2.6 goals per game while allowing a seventh most in the NHL average of 3.52 goals per game. This team is going to get even worst this year, especially when Kane leaves and they’re one of my picks to be a lottery team. Last year, as a surprise to no one, the Avs swept their season series against the Blackhawks and won all four games they played. It’s insane that the moneyline on an opening night game is -425, but that line is actually pretty accurate. The Avs should crush Chicago for a very easy win tonight but I can’t bet that price on the ML or even the regulation line. I will take a half unit shot on the Avalanche puck line though.
Oilers vs. Canucks (10:00)
Last season the Oilers had their best season in the McDavid era, going all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they got swept by the eventually Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. Edmonton, lead by the best player in all of hockey in Connor McDavid and another incredible superstar in Leon Draisaitl, finished the regular season in second place in the Pacific Division with a 49-27-6 record. In the first round they beat the Kings in seven games, dominated the battle of Alberta in the second round to knock off the Flames in five games before getting swept by the Avs. McDavid, Draisaitl and their Oilers had the seventh highest scoring offense in the NHL, averaging 3.48 goals per game and they were dominant on the power play, scoring on 26% of those chances. They struggled defensively and in goal through parts of the season, allowing an average of 3.06 goals per game and just outscored their problems. To address some of those issues, they brought in Jack Campbell from Toronto to be their starting goalie and they traded away Zach Kassian to clear up cap space to be able to resign some of their key players that needed new contracts. I’d expect the Oilers to continue to ride the momentum of their great season last year. The Canucks went on a few great runs last season after a horrible start and they played like an entirely different team after hiring Bruce “there he is” Boudreau in December. They ultimately fell short of making the playoffs, finishing tenth in the West with a 40-30-12 record. Vancouver was a very good defensive team, allowing an average of just 2.82 goals per game, eighth fewest in the NHL backstopped by a great goaltender in Thatcher Demko. They weren’t great offensively though, averaging 3 goals per game. The Canucks had the ninth best power play in the league, scoring on 23.5% of their PP chances but despite them being a very good defensive team, they had the second worst penalty kill in the league at 74.9%. In the offseason they made some moves to improve their offense adding Curtis Lazar, Ilya Mikheyev and most notable, Andrei Kuzmenko who was second in scoring in the KHL last season over in Russia. Last season these teams played four times with the Oilers sweeping the season series and all four of those games stayed under 5.5 goals. I’ll lay the juice and take the Oilers ML for half a unit. I’d lean the under as well, but not enough to bet on it.
Ducks vs. Kraken (10:00)
Last season the Seattle Kraken made their debut as an NHL expansion team and their inaugural season did not go well in the slightest. They proved out that there’s definitely a solid market for hockey in Seattle but the product on the ice wasn’t great. They finished third worst in the NHL last year with a 27-49-6 record. Seattle’s offense was fourth worst in the NHL last season, averaging 2.6 goals per game and they allowed a ninth most in the NHL average of 3.46 goals per game. They had the fourth most inefficient power play, scoring on only 14.5% of their chances and the second worst penalty kill, killing off only 74.9% of their penalties. They improved in the offseason and should definitely better this year than they were last year, adding fourth overall pick (who was projected to go first) Shane Wright in the draft, forward Andre Burakowsky from Colorado, forward Oliver Bjorkstrand from Columbus, defenseman Justin Schultz from the Caps and veteran backup goalie Martin Jones. The Ducks were a lot of fun to watch this season with magic on the stick of rookie forward Trevor Zegras who’s now the cover boy of NHL 23 from Michigan style goals to creatively insane over the goal assists. But at the end of the day, they weren’t a great team finishing 13th in the Western Conference with a 31-37-14 record. Anaheim allowed a tenth most in the NHL average of 3.24 goals per game and they only scored a ninth fewest in the NHL average of 2.78 goals per game. The Ducks power play was decent, scoring 21.9% of the time and their penalty kill was tenth best in the league at 80.8%. In the offseason they brought in Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano along with a the best free agent defenseman John Klingberg. They lost their face of the franchise, Ryan Getzlaf, who retired and they didn’t give qualifying offers to Sonny Milano and Sam Steel, so they’re gone too. I don’t see the Ducks making playoffs but they should be able to improve this season with another year under the belt of their young stars. In the three games these teams played last season, the Ducks won two of those games. I’d lean Anaheim opens the season with a win tonight but I don’t like it enough to force a bet on this game between two lower end teams so I’ll just stay off it.
Bonus Parlay: Along with all my straight bets, I’ll also throw in a parlay of Canes ML, Leafs ML, Avs in regulation and Oilers ML for half a unit, boosted on DraftKings Sportsbook.
.5u Hurricanes in regulation (-170)
.5u Leafs in regulation (-150)
.5u Leafs TT over 3.5 (-165)
.5u Avalanche -1.5 (-150)
.5u Oilers ML (-184)
.5u parlay: Hurricanes ML, Avalanche in regulation, Oilers ML (+462, boosted)
Record: 3-2 (+0.39 units)
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