Record: 3-7 (-195)
Ottawa Senators vs. Buffalo Sabres
The Ottawa Senators were one of the lowest-scoring teams in the Eastern Conference and one of the best defensive teams. That’s why I’m a bit surprised that they are facing a total of 5.5 and not just five in this game. Last season, their goaltenders produced a 2.08 GAA, which was the best in the Eastern Conference. That should carry over into this season and into Friday night when they face a very subpar Buffalo Sabres team.
Buffalo scored just one goal in their regular season opener in Detroit and quite frankly, I don’t expect their offense to do much this season. They’ll be without Ville Leino for a while (broken rib) and star forward Thomas Vanek has just two assists in his last eight games against Ottawa. I’ll take the under in this game as one my NHL picks.
Pick: Under 5.5 +106 at Pinnacle
New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils
A night after getting shutout, I’ll expect the Devils to play in another low-scoring affair on Friday night. While I eventually expect their offense to be just fine, they did have a lot of turnovers this offseason, which means that it will take some time for the forwards to gel. We’re talking about five or six new faces, so there’s going to be an adjustment period.
Meanwhile, Martin Brodeur is expected to be back in net on Friday after Cory Schneider got the start in the opener. He typically plays well against the Isles. The NHL odds show a total of 5.5 for this game and I’ll take the under.
Pick: Under 5.5 at Bookmaker
Detroit Red Wings vs. Carolina Hurricanes
The Red Wings got their season off to a good start with a 2-1 win over the Sabres on Wednesday night. Now they take their show on the road to Carolina as the Hurricanes prepare for their season opener.
The Red Wings were not a good road team last season but I expect that to change in 2013-14. They finished the season 11-9-4 on the road, which isn’t bad, but that’s because they played much better away from home near the end of the season. The challenge was that they had a number of young players who were getting acclimated and the performances were quite inconsistent in the splits. Now a lot of those young players are more season and the team added some veteran depth (Daniel Alfredsson, Stephen Weiss) in the offseason to bolster the roster.
The Hurricanes are a bit of a wild card as they have some talent and should be better than they were last season (13th in the East) but I’ll need to see it before I believe it. They were just 9-15 at home last year.
In this spot, they’ll be without Tim Gleason (concussion) and Tuomo Ruutu (lower body). The Red Wings have won four of the last five meetings and I’ll take them with my sports picks, expecting that trend to continue.
Pick: Red Wings -115 at Pinnacle