Opening night of the NHL season is less than a month away. The NHL odds are posted for that first Thursday, so let’s take a look to see if there’s any value.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Canadiens and Maple Leafs are two of the biggest rivals in the NHL. These two Original Six teams go back and forth quite a bit, so the strategy is going to be the same: bet the dog.
The two teams return virtually unchanged. The Leafs are going to give up a ton of shots per game – again – and are only going to be successful if they can outscore their opponents. As for the Canadiens, scoring is their weakness, albeit a small one on a very complete team. With the Habs having a huge edge in net and being virtual equal everywhere else, they are the better play in this spot. Don’t be concerned too much about home-ice advantage. Montreal was 23-15-3 on the road last season.
Also, this is a bit of a payback game as the Leafs went into Montreal in the season opener last year and won. When making your NHL picks, keep in mind the Habs will be looking to return the favor here.
NHL Pick: Canadiens
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins
The Bruins tend to have the Philadelphia Flyers number as they’re happy to play Philly’s physical brand of hockey. The issue comes up where the Bruins are excellent on defense and the Flyers can’t match them there. Both teams are virtually unchanged from last season, so I wouldn’t expect much of a change in this series. The Boston Bruins won all three meetings last season, outscoring the Flyers 15-6. They scored at least four goals in every meeting. If you don’t feel like laying a ton of juice, which is never a good idea in the NHL, take the over.
NHL Pick: Over
San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
The San Jose Sharks are definitely going to want some revenge in this one after blowing a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Kings last season. The Kings, of course, went on to become the Stanley Cup champions.
Even though the Sharks haven’t made the wholesale changes to their roster as they promised, rest assured that they’ve had this game circled all offseason. They should be highly motivated to get the win. I’ll take a shot with them in this spot – even though the Kings will be raising the banner on opening night.
NHL Pick: Lean With The Sharks
Vancouver Canucks vs. Calgary Flames
The Flames are a team I like as they finished last season on a solid 19-13-0 run over their last 32 games. They seemingly turned a corner in the Bob Hartley era. They have an excellent young core of forwards and now have a reliable goaltender in Jonas Hiller. Vancouver is a team that’s trending downwards. They did sign Ryan Miller but that might not change much. He backstopped a horrible Buffalo Sabres team for years.
NHL Pick: Flames