Read our 2013-14 Stanley Cup Future Odds Update for an early edge in this season's games!
To get you ready, we’ve got the Anaheim-Colorado game singled off in its own preview and below we’ve got rundowns and picks of the other two games.
The Flyers are one of the more underrated teams entering the 2013-14 season. On one hand, it is entirely possible that they struggle to score and their goaltending remains flawed. However, what’s likely closer to the truth is that their offense, which dropped off significantly last season, gets back to business. They ranked third in goals scored in the NHL in each of the previous two years before that. With Claude Giroux, Vincent Lecavalier, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier and more, this team will light the lamp early and often.
As for their goaltending and defense, the Flyers should be better by default. Ilya Bryzgalov’s .900 save percentage ranked him 39th in the NHL. Offseason acquisition Ray Emery and holdover Steve Mason can be mediocre and still beat those numbers. As for the Flyers blue line, as long as they stay healthy, they be much better too.
All of that adds up to a play for Philadelphia on Thursday night. They need to make an early statement and a playoff team like Toronto – who is in an early back-to-back situation – is the perfect victim. Take the Flyers with your NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Pick the Flyers -130 to win, at Bet365
Don't forget to mark down on your calendar Key Dates for the 2013-14 NHL Season!
Buffalo Sabres @ Detroit Red Wings
The Buffalo Sabres were a bad team in the lockout-shortened season and it’s hard to imagine them being much better nowadays. Their salary cap is still a bit of a mess and until they can get players like Ryan Miller off the books – and maybe Thomas Vanek too – they will be a so-so squad. Buffalo finished dead last in the Northeast Division last year while scoring just 125 and allowing 143. They also started selling the team for parts at the trade deadline and have done little to replace that talent.
On the flip side, experts making their sports picks know that Detroit enters the season going in a different direction. They nearly defeated the Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs last season and have only improved since. They relied upon a lot of young blue liners who should be better with another year of experience. On top of that, they added some good forwards like Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson via free agency.
Overall, this is a bit of a mismatch. Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard has won three straight versus Buffalo, allowing just four goals on 96 shots.
It’s early in the season and everyone will be confident, so I don’t want to lay a ton of juice on the NHL odds with Detroit. That being the case, I’ll take a shot with the puck line to knock down the price a little bit.
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