We’re still very early into the NHL betting season, but already there are some trend lines. Entering Thursday night’s slate, goal-scoring is up over last year -- 3.25 goals per game on average per team, up from the 2.97 overall of last season), while saves percentage of goalies is down (.904, from .912).
Ice hockey betting fans should keep that in mind with my top five best bets for games this weekend, which will include team plays and over-under bets on goals for that particular game.
Edmonton (0-2-0) allowed an average of 4.5 goals per game in their first two contests, while the Rangers (1-3-0) allowed an average of 4.
NHL scoring champion Connor McDavid of the Oilers is due for a bust-out game, having only put up a (for him) pedestrian three points in the two losses. <>/p>
Given that scorers usually have the advantage early in a season while coaches are still catching up in ways to slow the game down in more “playoff” styles, this is a good bet to be a high-scoring affair at Madison Square Garden.
Rangers coach David Quinn is getting close to three goals a game from his offense, and Edmonton’s defense and goaltending remain a worry. I like the Oilers to win at +147 at 888Sport.
888Sport , has the struggling Arizona Coyotes as the early favorite over the visiting Buffalo Sabres Saturday.
True, Buffalo was the worst team in the NHL last season, but No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin already has helped the Sabres get out to a respectable 2-2-0 start, while Arizona scored only three goals in their first three games. They didn’t score at all in the first two.
The Sabres have a lot more offensive firepower now, with the addition of Dahlin on the back end and former Hurricane Jeff Skinner up front. Jack Eichel is off to a good start as well.
The Sabres’ defense and goaltending remain worrisome, but they’re a team that is hungry to get back to respectability, while the Coyotes seem perpetually mired in mediocrity.
I like the Sabres in something of an upset play here, and will take them at +190 to win in regulation at 888Sport.
The Colorado Avalanche put up six goals Thursday night in an easy win in Buffalo, and Karamba has a tempting +130 on Colorado winning against the Flames at the Pepsi Center.
It’ll be a surprise if the Avalanche doesn’t get at least five goals on its own in this one. I see something like a 5-3 final for the Avs. They are a fast, talented team with arguably the top line in the Western Conference (Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen).
The Flames can score some goals too, with Johnny Gaudreau and newcomer James Neal. It hurts the Flames, though, that defender Travis Hamonic remains out a while with facial fractures.
I like the Avs a ton in this one. Bet them at +130 with 888Sport.
The Montreal Canadiens held a reunion of the 1993 team that won the Stanley Cup - the last Canadian team to win one. So how did the current Canadiens respond to all that feelgood nostalgia in the building? They got shut out 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Habs play the Penguins Saturday night in Montreal, and they are a +180 at 888sport. The Habs just can’t score, while the Penguins can. They always can score, right, with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin around?
Pittsburgh is a strong bet to win this one, by at least a couple of goals. It’s been 25 years since a Canadiens team won a Cup, and it’ll be at 26 after this one.
As we advised earlier in the week, you should be leery of the Philadelphia Flyers for a while, with top free-agent signee James van Riemsdyk out 5-6 weeks with a right knee injury. Sure enough, the Flyers got smoked 8-2 at home the next game, at home against San Jose, but got a win against a bad Ottawa team the next outing at least.
Saturday, they play the Vegas Golden Knights at home, and I like the visitors in this one. Why? Because Vegas will be a desperate team. The defending Western Conference champions are out to a 1-4-0 start, one of the losses being their home opener to the Flyers.
Vegas is +165 on 888Sport, so this is a nice underdog play. Philly’s goaltending, with Brian Elliott and, now, Calvin Pickard is kind of a mess. Imagine that -- goaltending problems in Philly?