Hockey season is back! Those are some of the best four words in the English language if you ask me. And, on top of it all, our nights will be filled with the NHL back on ESPN and brand new to Turner Sports.
I have become more invested in sports gambling over the past year or so. How invested, you may ask? Last week, I was refreshing the box score to a KHL game in my Uber on my way home from a night out with friends. I love the entertainment and the opportunity to earn some spending money.
Basics of hockey betting
Money line — Winning team
Puck line — Team wins by at least two goals (-1.5 when placing a bet)
Three-way line — Team wins in regulation
Over/under — Total goals scored during a game including overtime but not a shootout
Parlay — A combination of two or more bets
Last night, the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the defending champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in extravagant fashion, 6–2. The Penguins were the underdogs, and playing their money line at plus odds would have been a sweet win. The over also hit (5.5). For the nightcap, the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Seattle Kraken by a score of 4–3. That over (5.5) also hit, however, the Golden Knights, the favorite, did not cover the puck line by only winning by one goal.
Tonight, we have five games on the slate. Let’s dive into my picks.
(All odds courtesy of BetRivers IL)
Montreal Canadiens (+160) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (-186)
In terms of how I make my picks, everyone has their strategy. For me, it is a mix of gut and research.
Both teams are missing arguably their best players tonight in Carey Price for the Montreal Canadiens and Auston Matthews for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens are also without defensemen Shea Weber for the entire year and Joel Edmundson will miss the start of the regular season. Forwards Paul Byron and Mike Hoffman are also on long-term injured reserve. It is a banged-up Canadiens team traveling to Toronto. Mitch Marner is also a game-time decision, but I would expect him to play.
My pick: Over 6. The Maple Leafs have the firepower on offense even without Matthews in the lineup, and the Canadiens have their own sharpshooters in Cole Caufield and Tyler Toffoli. I think goals come early and often tonight in Toronto.
New York Rangers (-107) vs. Washington Capitals (-109)
One thing to note. O/U 6.5 means there must be at least seven goals for the bet to settle as a win. As for the Maple Leafs-Canadiens game, the O/U is set at 6, which also means there must be at least seven goals for a win. However, without the .5, if the game finishes with six total goals, it would be considered a “push” and you get your wagered money back.
First off, neither team have plus odds. I would consider this a toss-up. So, if you would want plus odds on either one of them, you could play the three-way line or the Washington Capitals are -1 at +160. A $10 wager would win $16 and the payout would be $26.
The New York Rangers are locked and loaded. They are healthy and ready to go to battle with their slew of assistant captains. I really like their roster. They made several additions in Barclay Goodrow, Ryan Reaves and former St. Louis Blues forward Samuel Blais. Their back end is solid, led by Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba. And, their goaltending duo of Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev gives new head coach Gerard Gallant options.
As for the Capitals, there are plenty of familiar faces. They will be without Nicklas Backstrom tonight and for the foreseeable future. Vitek Vanecek will tend the pipes tonight, and the Capitals will be ready to prove they are capable of another run at the Cup.
My pick: Capitals three-way +145. I will ride the Capitals on home ice tonight. The building will be electric and Alex Ovechkin will shine on the first regular-season game broadcast on TNT.
Chicago Blackhawks (+170) vs. Colorado Avalanche (-200)
Even with no Nathan MacKinnon tonight after testing positive for COVID-19, the Colorado Avalanche are the heavy favorite at home. It is not shocking considered the Avs are one of the favorites to win it all this year. Their roster is loaded with stars all over the place. This is a team that will be entertaining all year and favored in the majority of their contests.
The Chicago Blackhawks are running out a new-look squad headlined by goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and defensemen Seth Jones. Jonathan Toews is back after missing all of last season with an illness. The rebuild was short-lived in Chicago, and, at least on paper, General Manager Stan Bowman has put together a playoff-contending roster.
My pick: Hawks ML +170. Homer pick? Absolutely. There is plenty of excitement coming into this season, and I am going to ride it on opening night. Fleury will keep them in the game and give them the chance to pull out the victory.
Vancouver Canucks (+160) vs. Edmonton Oilers (-186)
I had to think about this game for a bit. There were a lot of angles I was looking into. First off, I liked the over until I saw Mike Smith was 4–0 with a .937 save percentage for the Edmonton Oilers against the Vancouver Canucks last season. This one is tough. I feel that the Oilers are a deeper team offensively, but I lean toward the Canucks’ defense. But, I had to settle on something to try and win some cash for the weekend shenanigans.
My pick: Oilers three-way -121. Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are one of the best duos in the NHL. In March of last season, The two have combined on an NHL-best 197 goals since 2016–17. Insane! Riding these guys tonight is the safe bet.
Winnipeg Jets (-132) vs. Anaheim Ducks (+112)
O/U: 5.5 +100
It is always hard to pass up an O/U at plus odds, so think about it.
Hey, a road favorite! The Winnipeg Jets have had a winning record on the road for the past five seasons. It is a balanced roster and is destined to finish near the top of the Central Divison. As for the Anaheim Ducks, their roster is nothing special. They have finished toward the bottom of the league the past three seasons. Trevor Zegras will be the highlight of the team this season, as he will be in the race for the Calder Trophy with Cole Caufield and Spencer Knight. Maybe they surprise some people, but right now it does not look like it.
My pick: Jets -1.5. I think they win comfortably. John Gibson is the likely starter in the net for the Ducks, and while he is not a bad goalie, I do not like the defense in front of him. Ride the Jets into the night.
I would parlay:
— Leafs O 6/Jets -1.5 +425
Props I like:
— Canadiens team total including overtime over 2.5 -115
— Toews to have a point +105
— Zegras to score +310
Let’s start off the year with a bang! Happy gambling!
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