Had a lot of fun writing out some picks for last nights NHL action, so I figured I’d keep it going with some more picks for tonights action.
Season Record: 4-2
Tail or fade with caution!
Oilers @ Maple Leafs
Pick: Maple Leafs ML (-145)
These two teams played their first of nine matchups this season on Wednesday, and it was a shockingly low-scoring affair. After 40 minutes, the score was just 1-0, and it was not the type of game that anybody expected. The Oilers ended up with a 3-1 win, and I can’t help but feel like the Leafs will be extra motivated to bounce back with a win here. They are playing in their own building, and after a below-average performance on Wednesday, I think they put together a much better outing tonight. The Oilers have a ton of firepower offensively with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but the Leafs played pretty well defensively on Wednesday, holding Edmonton to just 22 total shots. One of their goals was an empty-netter, and Frederik Andersen has been better in his last two starts with save percentages of .905 and .964. The Oilers are not known for their defensive prowess, and even though Auston Matthews may not play tonight (he is questionable) I think the Maple Leafs’ big three of John Tavares, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander can more than handle things offensively. The Oilers were giving up 3.75 goals per game before they allowed just the one to Toronto, and I don’t think they will be able to repeat that performance on the road again. Overall, I just don’t see the Leafs losing back-to-back games at home here, and the Oilers have won just two times in their last nine games in Toronto. I’m taking the Leafs ML.
Predators @ Stars
Pick: Predators ML (-105)
The Dallas Stars will finally start their season tonight as they take the ice in their home arena to face the Nashville Predators. Dallas had 17 players test positive for covid-19, and their season has been delayed up until now. They are the only team that has yet to play a game so far in this young season. That means they could be a bit rusty. Not only that, but they will be without starting goaltender Ben Bishop and starting center Tyler Seguin. The Stars made an impressive postseason run in the bubble, going all the way to the Stanley Cup before falling short to the Lightning. This is still a talented team, but I think it may take a couple games from them to fully get back into the swing of things. Dallas has not played a meaningful game since that Stanley Cup Game 6 on Sept. 28, 2020. On the other side, Nashville has not played since Monday, as their Tuesday game against the Hurricanes was postponed. That puts them in a nice little sweet spot where they have three games of competition under the belt, but are also fairly rested. The Preds are off to a 2-1 start and have 10 goals in three games. Filip Forsberg has found the back of the net in all three, and seven Nashville skaters have multiple points already. Goalie Juuse Saros has been fantastic in his two starts, posting a 2-0 record with a .959 SV% and 1.5 GAA. He will be in net tonight, and I think he does enough to lead Nashville to a win.
Red Wings @ Blackhawks
Picks: Blackhawks ML (-135) and Blackhawks Puck Line -1.5 (+170)
These two original six teams are in for a long year. Both franchises are in rebuilding mode, and last season, Chicago finished last in their division with 72 points in 70 games, while Detroit also finished last in their division with an abysmal 39 points in 71 games. Surprisingly, the Wings are off to a decent start this season with a 2-2 record with wins over the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. Newcomer Bobby Ryan has been impressive and provided a spark offensively with four goals already, and goaltenders Thomas Greiss and Jonathan Bernier have been solid as well. They both have save percentages above .925, and they have held strong through the first few games. It has been a respectable start, but I’m not sure how long it can last. This is still a team that had a -122 goal differential last year, and although Steve Yzerman has started his masterplan, it could take some time. The Blackhawks might be 0-3-1 on the season, but I think they get their first win here against Detroit. This will be the Blackhawks first home game, along with the Red Wings’ first away game. The Hawks had a rough go of it in Tampa, losing 5-1 and 5-2 to the defending Stanley Cup champs, then fell short in back-to-back games in Florida against the Panthers, losing 5-2 and 5-4 in OT. That is a tough first four games, and the Wings are not quite to the level of the Lightning or Panthers. This Blackhawks team has a nice mixture of old veterans and young talent, and I think it will serve them well in this game. Vets like Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Andrew Shaw mesh nicely with youngsters Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, and Dylan Strome. The Hawks may have given up five goals in every game so far this season, but I don’t think this Red Wings offensive attack will be able to muster up that many. The Chicago offense has looked better each game, and I think they finally get into the win column tonight.
I also think they can win by two goals, so I am taking them on the puck line -1.5 as well. Overall, I think Detroit’s defense is a tad slow and Chicago’s forwards can take advantage to create a lot of opportunities for themselves. The Wings are 28th in the league so far with just 24.8 shots per game, and they put up just 14 in the season opener. I think Chicago’s youngsters have a solid night while their defense holds Detroit in check. The possibility of empty-netters always helps too.
Rangers @ Penguins
Pick: Penguins ML (-145) and Penguins Puck Line -1.5 (+160)
The Penguins are off to a 2-2 start, but are coming off back-to-back wins over the Capitals, and they scored nine goals in those two games. Sidney Crosby is off to a hot start with five points (3G, 2A) in four games, and he will be the best player on the ice yet again in this one. The Penguins are a very complete team, and they have six skaters with at least three points so far. On the other side, this Rangers team is still trying to find their identity on the ice. New York entered this season as one of the most interesting teams in the league, and so far it has been a roller coaster. Granted, they are only three games in, but the results for those three games have been all over the place. The Rangers got shutout in their season opener, losing 4-0 to the Islanders. After that, they turned around and won a shutout by a score of 5-0. In their last outing, they lost to the upstart Devils 4-3 even though the Rangers held a big time shot advantage 50-28. This early in the season, it seems we don’t really know exactly what we are going to get from this Rangers team on a night-to-night basis, and for that reason, I’m rolling with the Penguins. They know who they are, and have the more complete team at this point in time. They have also won 15 of the previous 22 matchups against the Rangers, and I think that continues here.
Golden Knights @ Coyotes
Pick: Over 5.5 (-105)
The Golden Knights are off to a fantastic 4-0 start and are putting up four goals per game. Their 16 total goals are fourth in the league thus far, and captain Mark Stone is leading the way with seven points (2G, 5A). Crazy enough, Vegas has been able to put up these strong numbers without being that effective on the power play. Vegas has scored on just one of their 14 power play chances. To me, that shows just how good this team is at even strength, and it’s only a matter of time before they improve their power play numbers. For Arizona, they fell short against this Vegas team twice in Vegas, and tonight they are at home to try to get over the hump. It was clear in those first two games that the Coyotes will have a hard time slowing this Golden Knights team down. Vegas put up four goals on 28 shots in the first meeting, and five goals on 29 shots in the second meeting. I think that means Arizona will have to play with more urgency on the offensive end, and pepper the opposing goaltender with shots on net. It might be difficult to do against a well-balanced Vegas team that is only allowing 1.75 goals against them per game so far, but with a heightened sense of urgency, I think the Coyotes find more success offensively in this one. Give me the Over.
Best of luck. Cheers.
Title Photo: Matt Kincaid / Getty Images