It’s still really early in the NHL season, but bad starts in this parity-driven league are tough to overcome if playoff aspirations are to become realized.
Several teams are off to really bad starts, including some of the usual suspects (Arizona, Florida, Detroit). But some teams expected to be good have been pretty bad so far. That’s why I’m actually high on a couple of them to rebound with weekend wins.
Desperation is often a hockey team’s best friend. It’s such a tough, physically demanding sport that, when times are good for teams, they tend to take it easy a bit. And, vice-versa.
NHL betting fans should always consider who the truly desperate teams are, even early in a season. These are my top best bets for the weekend:
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was embarrassed in his first outing since Oct. 5 on Thursday night at home against the New York Islanders, allowing six goals before being pulled in the third period.
The Kings are off to a 2-4-1 start, losers of three in a row. While more than 90 percent of the season will be left to play after this game on Saturday, Los Angeles is already six points behind crosstown rival Anaheim for the top spot in the Pacific. They’ll be desperate to win this one.
The Sabres, meanwhile, have dropped two in a row and haven’t looked good at all in doing so. At -112 with 888Sport, take the Kings to break that three-game skid in convincing fashion.
At Karamba, it’s -118 on an over of 6.5. Washington has been scoring at a pretty good clip (24 goals first six games), but also giving up a fair amount too (22). Florida is allowing four goals a game right now. Expect something like a 5-3 game, with the Caps on top.That’s a conservative estimate. I could see Washington getting six or seven.
Alex Ovechkin, the ageless Russian, has six goals so far. Expect a couple more in this one. Florida has a couple guys who can put points on the sheet too, especially the excellent but unheralded Aleksander Barkov. Bet the over with Karamba.
The 4-1-1 Habs are one of the bigger surprises of the year so far. Sure, everyone expected Carey Price to be his usual tough self in goal, but not many expected Montreal to be as good offensively as it’s been.
The Canadiens are averaging a robust 33.8 shots on net so far, eighth-best in the league. They’ve been better than expected defensively too, allowing only 26.3 shots a game. Keep in mind, Montreal remains without the services of top D-man Shea Weber.
Ottawa has been something of a surprise too, with a 3-2-1 record despite a summer of chaos off the ice. Ottawa just doesn’t have the personnel to sustain a winning record much longer. Take the Habs at +155 with 888Sport in their visit to Ottawa.
The Toronto Maple Leafs lost for just the second time Thursday night, getting shut out at home by Pittsburgh. I think they will come out blazing, therefore, against a Blue club that has been poor out of the gate.
The Maple Leafs figure to come out flying to atone for that loss, at home on a “Hockey Night in Canada” night.
The Blues? So far, their offseason strategy of spending a lot on high-priced imports hasn’t panned out. There are rumblings that coach Mike Yeo could be in some trouble with another loss or two, but players rarely rally around a coach that’s been around a few years like he has now. Usually, they starting tuning the coach out.
At -106 with 888Sport, the Leafs are a safe play here.
Here comes that word again: desperate. The Stars have lost two in a row, after a hot start, but have home ice Friday night against the Minnesota Wild, which won its last game and has gotten back to respectability after a bad start.
I think the Wild go into this one just happy to be there, while the Stars have all kinds of pressure on them to stop this little skid before it turns into a slide.
Expect a big game from the Stars’ top line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov against a Wild team that has slowed down a lot in the last year or so. 888Sport has the Stars at just +102,, so this is a great play in my book.