The 2013-14 NHL season starts on Wednesday, October 4th. We’re taking an early look at the NHL odds, projecting some lines and examining whether there’s any value betting the lines well in advance. Here’s a look at the four opening night matchups:
Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Canadiens run to the Eastern Conference final and the Maple Leafs failure to make the postseason probably means that the lines will tilt towards Montreal in this spot. Toronto will probably still be favored but in the -120 neighborhood. Regardless of where these teams are in the pecking order, they play each other very tight. I would expect a very spirited effort from the Maple Leafs on opening night. Remember, they started the 2013-14 season guns a blazing (10-4-0) and I expect them to shoot out of the gates again. This is an opportunity to measure themselves against the best and they should take advantage. As long as they’re not favored by more than -120, I like the value and their chances.
Value: Toronto -120 or less
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins
The Flyers and Bruins will square off in one of the highlight matches on opening night. The Bruins return mostly the same team intact minus the services of Jarome Iginla. They’ll still be a stellar defensive team this season but likely won’t score as many goals as they did in 2013-14. As for the Flyers, they’re a tough team to figure out. They should have had a better year last season than they did but a horrible start really cost them. But even though they straightened themselves out and eventually got in the playoffs, they never really looked elite at any point. Steve Mason secured their goaltending woes and given the offensive weapons they have, that should have made them a top-four team in the East. That never transpired. Until we see them play like that, we can’t really speculate.
Expect the Bruins to be big favorites in this spot and rightfully so. The Flyers are too risky of a bet here. The under would be the only thing to consider but there’s probably no value on the lines here.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames
This is a matchup of two teams that are rebuilding but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Canucks as a small favorite. They made the bigger splash in the offseason with the signings of Ryan Miller and Radim Vrbata. However, the Flames are the team that’s heading in right direction much faster. They finished up the 2013-14 season 19-13-0, which is quite positive considering they started with just 16 wins in their first 50 games. They added Jonas Hiller in the offseason, which should secure their biggest weakness. If the Flames are a dog here or laying -120 or less, the value lies with them.
Value: Flames at -120 or less
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
The Kings are going to be a favorite in this game and expect the Sharks to offer good value on the lines. The Kings are the reigning Stanley Cup champs while the Sharks are supposedly a team in turmoil. They needed to make changes but didn’t.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sharks come away with this game; the value is clearly with them. There’s no sense in overpaying with the Kings. The Sharks will be eyeing revenge after blowing a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs, so look for them to be more motivated than the Kings in this spot.