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Finally, the NHL is back! And like David Puddy at a Devils game, I can hardly contain myself.
The best advice I can give for these opening few days is to exercise caution. Some of these teams haven't played in over 10 months, and there are a lot more variables at play this year than ever before, many of which are impossible to quantify right now.
That being said, there will also be opportunities in these opening days and weeks to pounce on inefficiencies in the market before books adjust, so let's dive into the first couple of nights and see what we like.
The Canucks visit the Oilers for a season-opening back-to-back. I'll be on the Oilers on Wednesday if, as assumed, Braden Holtby starts the opener. Holtby was abysmal last season, posting the second-worst GSAA (-16.81) in the league. He also had a high-danger save percentage of just .780.
That doesn't bode well for a Vancouver team that was often bailed out by Jacob Markstrom, who posted an 11.45 GSAA and .838 HDSV% in 2019-20.
Edmonton has its own questions in goal and on the blue line, but this is a squad that can generate offense with the best of them. The Oilers offer good value at a short price with Holtby between the pipes. There in turn could be solid value on the Canucks on Thursday at plus money with Thatcher Demko in net.
Pick: Oilers -130
I'm expecting big things out of MacKenzie Blackwood this season. Overall, this young, hungry Devils team has a lot to prove, and it should be more competitive in a very tough East Division than many are giving New Jersey credit for. Meanwhile, the Bruins come in without David Pastrnak for the first month of the campaign and a worrisome lack of depth on the blue line.
If this line is anything to go by, it looks like Boston is being overvalued early on. This Bruins team isn't going to be nearly as good as in years past against very strong competition in the East. I'll gladly take a discount on the Devils in their home opener.
Pick: Devils (+155)
Big things are expected of the Rangers this year. They're going to be a very fun team to watch, but it's also going to take some time for them to truly hit their stride given how little hockey they've played over the last 10 months. They will score a lot, but this is still a club that ranked dead last in 2019-20 in expected goals against and allowed the most high-danger chances in the NHL.
The Rangers' lack of continuity won't be an issue for the Islanders. They're a fundamentally sound team that played deep into the 2020 playoffs. The Isles are well-coached, deep down the middle, and primed for a strong start this season.
Pick: Islanders (-110)
Maybe I'm missing something here, but these odds are way off. A line of -115 implies just a 53.5% chance for the Wild to win this game when in reality it's closer to 58%, or -138. Minnesota is far from a complete team, but the Wild are as deep as ever on the back end and will be much improved offensively.
However, this is more of a bet against the Kings than anything. Los Angeles, in the midst of a rebuild, owns one of the league's worst rosters. The Kings' top six is hard to look at, while Jonathan Quick's best days are well behind him. It's going to be a long season for L.A., but there are much better days ahead for a franchise that's done an excellent job reloading the prospect pool.
Pick: Wild (-115)
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, loves a juicy puck line, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.