NHL Picks: Opening Day Free Picks

David Lawrence

Saturday, January 19, 2013 1:59 PM GMT

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 1:59 PM GMT

Let’s get the party started with our first set of daily picks, focusing on three key Saturday contests.

NHL Betting: Saturday Picks

The lockout-shortened 2013 season is set to get underway as the 13 teams are in action on Saturday night. 

Record: 0-0

Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers

Somebody is going to have to explain to me why I have to lay juice with the Florida Panthers in this matchup. Yes, I understand that the Panthers are at home in this contest but how I see, the Hurricanes got significantly better in the offseason by adding Jordan Staal and Alex Semin while the Florida Panthers were fairly stagnant.

The Hurricanes look like a bit of a dark horse to me in the East as they could be a credible playoff team and might be a good way to catch the NHL odds sleeping. Their defense was weak last season because they worked the hell out of goaltender Cam Ward but now that he’s had half of a season to recuperate, the Hurricanes should be in good shape.

I don’t believe the hype regarding Florida. Last year, they took advantage of a weak division. This year, everyone is better and they’re not. Take the ‘Canes as a dog.

NHL Picks: Hurricanes +115 at Bet365

[gameodds]7/218103/43/us[/gameodds]

New York Rangers at Boston Bruins

I like the New York Rangers as a road underdog in Boston for a number of reasons. For starters, when you take a look at the two team’s records last year, the Rangers actually played very well on the road (24-12-5) while the Boston Bruins actually had more road wins (25) than home wins (24).

The Bruins are a good team but they have some questions to answer as they enter the season without Tim Thomas in net. Tuukka Rask is more than capable but the Bruins no longer have a quality Plan B to fall back on. It’s either Rask or bust.

Meanwhile, the Rangers should be fired up for their opener as they get to unveil Rick Nash. The Rangers were an Eastern Conference finalist last season but suffered from a lack of goal-scoring. Adding a sniper like Nash should alleviate some of those problems.

With the Rangers being a road dog, it’s too tempting to pass up. The value is good in this matchup.

[gameodds]7/218100/43/us[/gameodds]

NHL Picks: Rangers +114 at Matchbook

Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning nearly made the playoffs last season but unfortunately fell short due to poor goaltending. They allowed more goals per game than any other team in the NHL and that clearly affected their standing and the pockets of those who backed them with their hockey betting.

They hope to have addressed that by trading for Andreas Lindback, a young up-and-coming goaltender who should – at the very least – serve as an upgrade over Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon.

The Lightning find themselves as a slight home dog but that shouldn’t be the case. They are virtually on equal footing with a Washington Capitals team who is in transition. The Caps are introduction a new coach and a new system and betting them as a road favorite – especially considering they were just 16-21-4 on the road last season – is a bit over the top. We’ll stick with the Lightning as a home dog.

NHL Picks: Lightning -105 at Bet365

[gameodds]7/134436/43/us[/gameodds]
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