The NHL season is heating up, and I figured I’d try my hand at some gambling picks. I have not posted any NHL picks yet this season, but I will do more moving forward. Follow along @stadium_times and tail or fade with caution!
Devils @ Islanders
Pick: Islanders ML (-160)
The Islanders are off to a 2-1-0 start, and the only time they did not pick up a win was without Semyon Varlamov in net. Varlamov became the first Isles goaltender in history to start a new season with consecutive shutouts. Varlamov stopped 24 shots in a season opening 4-0 win against the Rangers, then turned away 27 shots in a 1-0 win against the Bruins. He is back in net for this one, and although asking for a third-consecutive shutout is tough, I think the Islanders will be able to limit the Devils’ scoring chances as a whole. The Islanders play a very defensive-minded brand of hockey, and the Unders are 3-0 in their games so far this season. For New Jersey, youngster Jack Hughes has been impressive so far this season with six points (2G, 4A) in three games, and he is the main reason why the Devils have yet to lose in regulation his season. NJ is 2-0-1, but I think the Islanders hand them a loss here. The Islanders are too stingy defensively, and Varlamov is hot as ever right now. NJ’s power play has been inefficient so far with just one goal in 10 tries, while their penalty kill has given up four goals in 13 chances. The Devils are just 2-10 in their last 12 trips to Long Island, and I think that trend continues here with an Isles win.
Lightning @ Blue Jackets
Pick: Over 5.5 (-115)
The Lightning have picked up right where they left off last season, following up their Stanley Cup championship with a 2-0 start to this season. Nikita Kucherov may be out with an injury, but this Lightning offensive attack is still one of the best in the league. In two games against the Blackhawks, the Bolts put up 10 goals while allowing just three. Steven Stamkos is leading the way with five points (2G, 3A), and the Bolts have nine skaters with multiple points through those two games. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets have been struggling to start this season. They are 1-2-1, and have not been getting the production they need from their top guys. Pierre Luc-Dubois requested a trade this offseason, and although he wants out of Columbus, he has committed to playing until something is figured out. Luc-Dubois is a very talented player, but is off to a slow start this season with just one point (G) in four games. Similarly, defensemen Zach Werenski and Seth Jones are also struggling out of the gate, as they both have no points yet. The Jackets are 0-for-7 on power play chances, and that is obviously not where they want to be. It’s only a matter of time until these players get on the scoresheet, and I think there is a good chance they do so tonight. It will be Columbus’ first home game, and although the atmosphere is a little bit different, playing in your own barn has to make you a little more comfortable. I think we will see more production from the Jackets top players, and with an offense like Tampa Bay’s, I think this one goes Over.
Jets @ Senators
Pick: Jets ML (-120)
I think this game will come down to goaltending. For Winnipeg, Connor Hellebuyck is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, and so far this season he is boasting a .921 save percentage. He is coming off a very strong performance against the potent Maple Leafs offense, and even though the Jets lost, Hellebuyck had 35 saves on 37 shots before the Leafs added an empty-netter for a 3-1 win. He was making save after save and really frustrated the Toronto forwards. After a game off, he returns to the crease to face a less potent Ottawa offense. The Sens are averaging just 21.5 shots on goal in this short season, and that is second-worst in the league. I expect Hellebuyck to have a solid night. In goal for Ottawa will be Matt Murray. The former Penguin and two-time Stanley Cup winner has gotten off to a rough start to his tenure in Ottawa allowing 10 goals in three games with a save percentage of .890. Murray was in net for the first matchup between these two teams on Tuesday, and after the Sens got up 3-1, he allowed three unanswered goals. In total, he allowed four goals on 28 shots, and the Jets won in OT by a score of 4-3. The Senators managed three goals on 41 shots against Winnipeg backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit, and with Hellebuyck in net tonight, I don’t see him allowing more goals than Murray. I’m on the Jets ML.
Canadiens @ Canucks
Picks: Canadiens ML (-135) and Under 6.5 (-120)
I hate taking Unders in NHL games, but I like it here. These two teams played an overtime thriller that ended with a 6-5 Vancouver victory last night. I do not think we will see a repeat of that. The Canadiens committed six minor penalties, and the Canucks were able to take advantage with three power play goals. I think the Canadiens will clean things up tonight. In goal for the Habs will be Jake Allen, who in his first game of the season held Connor McDavid and the high-flying Oilers offense to just one goal on 26 shots. Along with limiting Vancouver power play chances, I think the Habs are in a good position with Allen to hold the Canucks to a less explosive evening. I think they will get the win.
The Canadiens were able to put five shots past Braden Holtby thanks to a hat-trick from Tyler Toffoli, and Montreal is leading the league with 17 goals scored this season. In goal for Vancouver will be Thatcher Demko, who has posted a less-than-stellar .883 SV% and 4.65 GAA in two games this season. However, I think this is the perfect spot for him to get back on track going up against a Montreal offense that should come back down to Earth. Overall, I think both teams will clean it up defensively tonight, and I think both goalies will hold strong. Give me the Under.
Avalanche @ Kings
Pick: Over 5.5 (-120)
I feel like I could bet the Over on every Avalanche game. Their offense is that talented. Nathan McKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen lead a Colorado offense that has already put up 8 goals in a game this season, and they have the firepower and supporting cast to light the lamp early and often. These two teams played a 3-2 game last night and the Avs managed just three goals on 24 shots. They are capable of much more than that. They should especially be capable of more than that against a Kings squad that is deep into a rebuild and had just 64 points last season. They have yet to get into the win column this year, and Jonathan Quick has given up four goals in each of his two games this season. He has a tough assignment in this one. I am taking the Over pretty much because of Colorado, but the Kings do have some talent offensively that can find the back of the net. Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar each have four points though three games, and former Red Wing Andreas Athanasiou has three goals in three games. Overall, I think we see this one go Over the 5.5 goal total.
Best of luck. Cheers.
Title Photo: Sports Illustrated