After much anticipation, the NHL 2020-21 season finally got underway with the first puck drops heard around the league on Wednesday, January 13, 2021, as a handful of teams got their belated campaigns off the ground. The next day, Thursday, January 14, 2021, ushers in another rash of season-opening games, one of which features the Anaheim Ducks and the Las Vegas Golden Knights – a pair of Western Division contenders set to get their campaigns going with a two-game set over the next few days. The first of which is the subject of this preview that comes complete with free NHL picks.
Going into the season, the Anaheim Ducks are amongst the longshots in the league, tipped at +7500 with BookMaker in Stanley Cup futures. The Las Vegas Golden Knights, by contrast, are amongst the short odds-on-faves, tipped at +725 with BookMaker in Stanley Cup futures. In keeping with the overriding betting outlook, bookies have gone to press with the Golden Knights heavily favored in their season opener at the expense of the Ducks.
As it is, the Golden Knights are tipped as the significant home faves to win straight up, trading anywhere between -205 to -220, depending on the preferred top-rated sportsbook in question. Separately, the Golden Knights opened as the -1.5 (+120) faves on the puck line, and the total is set to 6 points on the odds board.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Las Vegas Golden Knights
Thursday, January 14, 2021 – 10:00 PM ET at T-Mobile Arena
Anaheim Ducks Against the Odds
It’s been a rough go for the Anaheim Ducks over the last few years. Having missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, expectations are understandably low coming into this season. Wholesale change and various comings and goings within their camp have contributed to their struggles, prompting the stacking of the NHL odds against them. And that betting trend appears to be extended into the upcoming season, as the Ducks are amongst the league’s quintessential longshots in Stanley Cup futures.
The rather depressing market outlook is in part down to the truncated season due to coronavirus, which includes a reshuffle across the board with divisions and conferences adapted to accommodate various health and safety protocols and travel challenges during these unprecedented times. As a result, the Ducks find themselves in a very tough West Division that is stacked with depth and talent. It includes the 2019 champions St. Louis Blues, the top contenders Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the dangerous floaters Colorado Avalanche.
That said, the Ducks aren’t entirely no-hopers. They could prove to be an interesting squad to sport in the betting for several reasons, one of which is stellar goalie John Gibson, who gives Anaheim a punter’s shot in each and every game. As well, Trevor Zegras, Sam Steel, and Max Jones are players to spot, especially if they take the requisite step forward offensively.
How good the Ducks will be this season is up in the air. The date against the highly fancied Golden Knights may well give an early sense of whether the Ducks could potentially be legitimate contenders this season or merely pretenders.
Vegas Golden Knights Have High Expectations
The Las Vegas Golden Knights are coming off a relatively inspiring 2019-20 campaign that was capped off with a conference finals appearance. The Golden Knights lost to the Dallas Stars in a five-game series in the Covid-19 bubble at Edmonton.
Since the Golden Knights joined the league, they’ve been an NHL success story, reaching the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season (lost to Washington Capitals). They’ve been held as one of the top contenders ever since.
This offseason has seen significant departures with Paul Stastny, Nate Schmidt, and Deryk Engelland moving on. But Las Vegas has added Alex Pietrangelo and Carl Dahlstrom to a roster that already includes stellar talent-set led by Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Marc-Andre Fleury.
On paper, the Golden Knights figure to be legitimate contenders this season again, and it would be a right shocker if they don’t come through in some measure on the high expectations that precede them across NHL betting markets. That said, they’ll need to get their campaign off the ground in a positive fashion, if only to make good on preseason projections. The 56-game NHL season is much shorter than previous seasons, offering less wiggle room for error.
NHL Betting Predictions
Whether stats factor in this revamped season is debatable. The Golden Knights boast a 10-2 SU mark against the Ducks, a run of form that includes six games that were decided by a 2-goal margin or higher.
All-time, the Knights have outscored the Ducks 45-24, with an average of 3.75 goals per game If those NHL betting trends hold true, the Golden Knights may well prove to be the smart NHL pick to come through as the -1.5 faves on the puck line.
For those that are on the fence with it being a new season, an opening game that presents with a lot of uncertainty, perhaps betting the totals is the better option. A bet on the OVER 6 may be the better bet for you.
*The picks reflect the line at the moment the writer made the plays, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.