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NHL: Best Opening Lines and Very Early Picks

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NHL: Best Opening Lines and Very Early Picks
Photo by Rich Lam / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The NHL qualifying rounds begin on Saturday, August 1st, and below we share our opinions on our two best bets. Without further ado, let’s take a long, early look at the most advantageous lines and the sharpest bets.

Neutral Ice with Home Team Advantages

As we prepare to dive headfirst into the uncharted waters of the NHL in August, let’s review the advantages that come with being the home team at a neutral site…sans fans. The higher seed is deemed the home team in three of the five games in the series and, in the games below, the Hurricanes and Islanders have earned that distinction.

Although the familiarity of playing on one’s home ice will be negated, as will the palpable energy wrought by tens of thousands of cheering partisans, the rules mandate that the home team will be allowed to submit its lineup after the visitors which gives the home coach a tactical advantage. Second, the home team is allowed to make the last line change, and third, in faceoffs in the neutral zone, the home player is allowed to put his stick down last before the puck drop.

Okay, so it doesn’t make up for throngs of rabid fans rocking the house, but it does give the higher seed a bit of an advantage as they will be designated as the home team in three of the five games if the series goes that far. Let’s check out our top three NHL picks on Saturday, August 1st.

Igor Shesterkin – Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP

New York Rangers vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Saturday, August 01, 2020 – 01:00 PM EDT at Scotiabank Arena

As we check out the NHL odds over at SBR Odds, we see that BetOnline is offering us the biggest bang for our buck if you favor the underdog New York Rangers at +111 in this matchup. New York is 4-0 against Carolina this season, holding a 17-9 scoring advantage in those four contests combined. The Blueshirts have also won a whopping 10 of their last dozen games against the Canes over the last three seasons. The Rangers’ Artemi Panarin was having a stellar year before the season was halted and did some of his best handiwork against the Hurricanes by notching nine points in his team’s four victories over Carolina this season.

The Rangers have a definite goalie controversy brewing between the reigning king, Henrik Lundqvist, and a hotshot Russian prospect named Igor Shesterkin, who was called up in January only to post a 10-2 mark with a .932 save percentage over his 12 starts. Lundqvist has oodles of playoff experience but Shesterkin has been a force between the pipes. Either way, grab the vig with the pup and cash a ticket in this Game 1 showdown.

Free NHL Pick:

New York Rangers+111
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Adam Pelech - Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

Florida Panthers vs. New York Islanders

Saturday, August 01, 2020 - 01:00 PM EDT at Scotiabank Arena

As we check out the lines at all of the best online sportsbooks on this matchup, we see that 5Dimes is making it easy on our wallets to back the slight favorite in this one by dealing the Islanders at -108 over the Panthers. New York met Florida on three occasions this season and defeated them in each and every one, outscoring the Panthers 8-4 over those three contests combined.

While Florida boasts a potent offense, averaging 3.30 goals per game and ranked sixth in the league, the Islanders own a stingy defense, allowing 2.79 goals against per game, and a penalty-killing unit that held the Panthers at bay this year. And while it is true that both teams were slumping before play was halted in March, it should be known that the Isles will be getting a shot of adrenaline when defenseman Adam Pelech returns after tearing an Achilles in January. Pelech and Ryan Pulock combined as New York’s top defensive pairing so it wasn’t a coincidence that the team began to sputter when Pelech got injured.

Let’s also not forget that the Islanders have a big-time coaching advantage with two-time NHL Coach of the Year, Barry Trotz, behind the bench.

Free NHL Pick:

New York Islanders-108
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