The headline is an attention grabber but it holds true, especially to the often misunderstood NHL fans in Las Vegas. The arrival 2017-18 National Hockey League season was preceded by more excitement and anticipation than any other in history.
We get to see the emergence of new superstars like Connor McDavid in Edmonton and little-known Nikita Kucherov in Tampa. The Pittsburgh Penguins are going for the first three-peat since the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980-1983. The question of will the Chicago Blackhawks recover from two straight seasons of first-round playoff exits or is Joel Quenneville’s team going to be another postseason disappointment? Is the Las Vegas market going to flex its muscles, showing the rest of the hockey world their dedication to the sport that many feel shouldn’t be in any desert climate let alone Las Vegas. The good news is by next June all these questions will be answered.
Who could bettors trust the most last season?
The answer is the Ottawa Senators (+15.9 units) and Columbus Blue Jackets (+10.0 units), as they both owned puck-line betting, while the Colorado Avalanche lost over 30 units for their backers, whoever they were.
As expected 58% of all Penguins games went over the ‘total’ while 61.9% of all Sharks games went ‘under’ the number.
What early trends will form this October? Remember how ‘overs’ were cashing at an alarming rate early in 2016 only to see a season-long resurgence for ‘under’ bettors?
Now that we’ve put last season’s betting trends on ice it’s time to take a sneak peek at the 2017-18 opening week starting with opening night on Wednesday, October 4th.
The NHL gives us four games to start, highlighted by the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins opening up their defense of the Stanley Cup against the St. Louis Blues. If the Pens are to win a third straight championship it will be with brand new depth players. Marc-Andre Fleury has taken his talents to Vegas while Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, and Mark Streit have all found new addresses. Great teams win with depth and if Pittsburgh wants to three-peat they must find a way to replenish last year’s crop. The Blues finished 2017 a profitable 5.9 units.
On October 5th, the defending Western Conference Champion Nashville Predators start their season on the road against the Boston Bruins who if you’ve read or watched my season previews is my projected team to beat in the East. Nashville didn’t lose as much as the Penguins in the offseason but gone is James Neal, an expansion casualty, and Mike Fisher who retired.
Nick Bonino did sign a 4 year-$16.4 million dollar after winning a ring with the Pens to help the Predators up the middle.
The city of Las Vegas will light up with the arrival of the Golden Knights but first, they must show their worth on the road against the Dallas Stars on October 6th. The Stars lost bettors 14.4 units last season but with many new additions and the arrival of head coach Ken Hitchcock the Stars are optimistic that they are a legitimate contender in the Central.
October 7th presents a Stanley Cup Final rematch when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Nashville Predators. The Penguins are an 8/1 favorite to win the Stanley Cup with the Predators sitting as the 9th choice at with betting odds of 14/1.
Only one game on October 8th but it’s another 2017 playoff rematch when the Montreal Canadians travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers. Last season, the Rangers handed the Atlantic Division champion a six-game defeat, a loss that seems to have carried over into the preseason for Montreal. Despite winning 55% of their games Montreal delivered a losing season for their puck line supporters (-0.2). This will be the second of 10 home games in the month of October for the Rangers.
We jump out to the West Coast on the October 9th where the Calgary Flames travel to Anaheim for a date with the Ducks. The Ducks bowed out in last year’s Western Conference Final in six games to the Nashville Predators but showed some moxie after winning a pivotal game four at Bridgestone Arena to tie the series up 2-2. It was the Flames (+4.1) not the Predators (-3.0) who returned a profit for bettors.
Finally, opening week comes to an end with the Vegas Golden Knights playing their first regular season home game in franchise history at the T-Mobile Arena against the Arizona Coyotes on October 10th. It’s been a long time coming for a city that deserved a professional franchise years ago.
Sit back and relax as the most anticipated season in NHL history is finally here.