We’re through our first weekend of NHL action and it’s been quite a good feeling to have hockey back. The drama has already begun with a goaltending controversy in Vancouver, a panic setting in for the Philadelphia Flyers and some tough questions being asked of the New York Rangers.
There are seven games on the slate for Monday, so let’s take a closer look at the NHL odds for today's contest:
Record: 7-5 (+225)
Buffalo Sabres vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
While the Toronto Maple Leafs did notch a decent win on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, I still think they need to be challenged a lot more before we get a clear answer on how good they are. The Leafs barely edged a Canadiens team that finished last in the Eastern Conference; I’ll need to see more.
The Buffalo Sabres were far more impressive in my eyes as they thrashed the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Sunday. While Monday night’s game will be a back-to-back situation for them, I see them as having more weapons, more offense and better goaltending than the Maple Leafs. When you add that in with them being an underdog, I’ll happily add them to my NHL picks as that value is too good to pass up.
NHL Pick: Sabres +105
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders
The Tampa Bay Lightning are an underrated team in my eyes as the bettors still seem to be very skeptical of their goaltending. Andreas Lindback played relatively well in a 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday, stopping 27 of 30 shots, and I think that’s just the type of keeping this team needs to make the playoffs.
Tampa Bay has an excellent offense chalk-full of several players that can put the puck in the net. On Saturday, six different players registered multi-point games.
Monday’s matchup with the feeble Islanders will be the Lightning’s first road test and they weren’t a good road team last year, so it won’t be a breeze. However, the Islanders are one of the weakest teams in the NHL and this will prove to be a very manageable task for the Lightning.
NHL Pick: Lightning -105
St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators
The St. Louis Blues looked like they didn’t miss a beat as they routed the Detroit Red Wings 6-0 on Saturday. While the amount of goals they scored was impressive, what I liked was the fact that their top-notch defensive play, which they developed last year, carried over to 2013. Jaroslav Halak registered the shutout and looked every bit as sharp as he did last season. If Halak gets the start, it’s worth noting he has a 1.71 GAA against the Preds in 13 starts while Elliott is at 1.35 in three starts.
I really don’t trust the Predators offense as I think they’ll have a tough time scoring many times this season – including against a team like the Blues. However, Pekka Rinne plays pretty well against the Blues as his GAA was at 1.61 in six starts against the Blues last season.
The UNDER has been a trend in this series with nine of the last 11, 28 of the last 36 meetings in Nashville and 51 of the last 74 overall have stayed under.
NHL Pick: Under 5