NHL Picks: Can Defending Champs Hold Off Chicago?

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NHL Picks: Can Defending Champs Hold Off Chicago?
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The NHL opens up in four more American cities this Wednesday. 

Colorado raises their Stanley Cup banner against the Chicago Blackhawks. 

Seattle travels to Anaheim. Boston renews acquaintances against the Washington Capitals.

Finally, the Carolina Hurricanes entertain the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche

We apologize for not doing more comprehensive previews, but our shows will start next week as we detail what to look for on a nightly and season-long basis. Anyway, the Colorado Avalanche will attempt to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

Not often does one see a Stanley Cup team as a moneyline favorite in the futures (+425) and almost at the diametrically opposite minus for their opener. Leave it to the Avalanche to be at -400 (it was as high as -425). 

Expect the Chicago Blackhawks to be fun to watch, the way that they will “tank hard for Bedard” this year. Their Under was something to hammer earlier in the preseason, but they will be picked on for their lack of defensive prowess. The Blackhawks could come close to giving up four goals a game this season. 

They will be asked almost daily when Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are traded. Kane will still put up his points and shots, so his props are viable. The exit of Nazem Kadri is significant, and Gabriel Landeskog is on the IR. That may spice things up some

For this game, American Sports Bettors have some options. The moneyline has a negative value, and the spread is 2.5 goals at almost even is troubling too. Stanley Cup hangovers can sometimes start early. A small wager on will both teams score one or more goals in the first period is +160. Also, tying the Avalanche win to the Over of 6.5 goals at +135 could be a way to find some plus money. 

Finally, if one wants to roll the dice, Chicago is +450 in regulation. Tread carefully there.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes are again favorites to win the Metropolitan Division (+195). Meanwhile, Columbus is expected to be near the bottom, fighting with teams like Philadelphia. While the Blue Jackets added Johnny Gaudreau and re-signed Patrik Laine, the team itself is limited on offensive depth after the trade of Oliver Bjorkstrand. Columbus’ defense allowed more than 35 shots a game too often last year, and little has changed. 

As for Carolina, they are “Stanley Cup or bust” again. After losing to the New York Rangers in seven games, Nino Niederreiter was allowed to walk to Nashville. Little has changed, but the pressure and expectations are the same. The Rod Brind’amour-coached club will be a dominant regular-season team. Expect the Hurricanes to be around 105-110 points again. The playoffs will be the bigger question. 

For as good as Frederik Andersen can be during the regular season, his health is in question far too often. His postseason play is also a bit suspect. Just look at his performances in Toronto and Anaheim. He is fine for the regular season and especially for tonight’s matchup.

Here is where it gets interesting. Boston, and especially New York, exposed Carolina’s penalty kill in the playoffs last season. Did the Hurricanes make adjustments? Their top-ranked kill will be tested by Laine and Gaudreau, often along with Zach Werenski. 

With some interesting anytime goal scorer props here, why not look at Patrik Laine (+160) with a Sebastian Aho first goal at +1100. Carolina’s -275 moneyline is a little cost prohibitive, and the -105 spread for -1.5 goals. 

For now, goal props are the fun way to go while betting small fractions of a unit. Getting the lay of the early NHL land is helpful. 

Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals

The Bruins and Capitals are both teams sorting out things. Boston has a few key injuries to Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy. Meanwhile, Washington awaits the full return of Tom Wilson and, eventually, Nicklas Backstrom. 

Washington brought in goaltender Darcy Kuemper in the offseason, signing him to a five-year deal. Their attempt to stabilize goaltending while keeping the same defense will tax the forwards. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin gets closer to the goals record. First is the 800-goal milestone. First things first are tonight against the Boston Bruins. Washington heads to Toronto tomorrow night. Keep that in mind. 

Boston sent Bruce Cassidy packing to bring Jim Montgomery as head coach. Montgomery was a promising coach before personal problems forced him out of Dallas. It will be interesting to see what he brings in his second chance. At least he does get Taylor Hall back tonight from injury. The biggest question will be how Montgomery uses his “Czech Line” of David Krejci, David Pastrnak, and Pavel Zacha. Washington may have problems handling them. 

Jeremy Swayman versus Darcy Kuemper favors Boston here, but goals could be more likely (23 in the three combined meetings). Again, look to the David Pastrnak, and Alex Ovechkin shot props. If last night taught us anything, shooters will shoot early on. Scrap the moneyline and total bets and stick with the props here. 

Seattle Kraken at Anaheim Ducks 

Two up-and-coming teams that are likely to end up near the bottom of the Pacific Division are the Kraken and the Ducks. These teams do have fantasy hockey upside and some betting potential. Seattle has an outside chance of coming close to the playoffs if their goaltending can stop a puck at an average rate. 

The Kraken made a few smart moves, but the main one was acquiring Oliver Bjorkstrand for two mid-round picks. Adding Andre Burakovsky to the mix will help the forwards as Seattle tries to improve their offense which ranked 29th last season (216 goals). The 292 goals allowed were just as concerning, but shots and chances were held down. It comes down to the goalies stopping pucks there. 

A little continuity will go a long way there. Then, there are the Anaheim Ducks, who are completely removed from the Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf era. Pat Verbeek is assembling a young team with talents like Troy Terry and Trevor Zegras. Oops, we almost forgot Mason McTavish. John Gibson is still in goal for Anaheim. Who knows if or when he will be traded?

The matchup on Wednesday features teams expected to be below .500. The Kraken need their offense to show up late in games and their goaltending. The Ducks need their young players to keep progressing. The Kraken may be a little further along.

The Kraken line has shifted some as they currently have a slight plus-money value of around +105. Taking a flier on their moneyline as a bet is worth a look tonight. 

Some Random Wagers For American Sports Bettors Tonight

Here are some fun wagers:

  • Seattle to win and Game Over 4.5 goals +150
  • Alex Ovechkin Over 3.5 shots -130
  • David Pastrnak Over 3.5 shots -150
  • Sebastian Aho (CAR) anytime goal at +130, first goal at +1100

Good luck, and take a look at our previews and much more. 

All odds today come from BetMGM Sportsbook.

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