8-10: So the Coyotes trap the Pens and catch them sleeping to the tune of a 3-0 loss. Unfortunately for the Pens, backup Brent Johnson actually played great. He only let in two powerplay goals and should’ve received more offensive support upfront. The Habs also came out flat. Carey Price’s great start to the season was wiped out quickly in front of his home audience. I’m not giving Luongo full credit, Montreal was out of it before they could even muster up some kind of attack. Lots of games today so let’s get picking!
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Phoenix Coyotes +140 at Buffalo Sabres -160
The Coyotes are in first place! Their trapping held the Penguin’s offense to a season low 24 shots and shut them out on 5 powerplay opportunities. The Penguins didn’t help their cause though, giving the Coyotes 9 powerplay opportunities and allowing them to score on 2 of them. Without those powerplay opportunities, the Coyotes probably don’t put a puck past Johnson so I can’t expect them to put up much offense against a premier goalie in Ryan Miller. Fortunately for the Coyotes, Ilya Bryzgalov has played well this season, allowing 3 goals in two games. Buffalo scored one lowly (powerplay) goal against Montreal and is capable of more offense. However, seeing the way the Coyotes are jamming up the neutral zone with their d-men and forcing opponents to dump the puck, Buffalo should have trouble trying to get their offense kick started. If Bryzgalov and Miller don’t start, I’ll probably change this pick.
Pick: Under 5.5 goals -105
New York Islanders +140 at Ottawa Senators -160
In their home opener, the Islanders took the Pens to a shootout and eventually surrendered the victory. Most importantly for the Islanders, they held the Pens’ offense to only 3 goals on 42 shots and also potted 3 goals past Marc-Andre Fleury. This speaks trouble for the Sens who haven’t mustered up more than 2 goals per game against both the Leafs and the Rangers. Pascal Leclaire played well for the Sens on Tuesday, holding the Leafs to 1 goal and the Sens will turn to him again in their home opener. Either Martin Biron or Dwayne Roloson will get the nod for the Islanders, either way a major upgrade over last season. The Islanders have their best shot at an upset here as the Senators don’t look like a rejuvenated team so far in the season.
Pick: Isles +140
Pittsburgh Penguins +125 at Philadelphia Flyers -145
The Penguins, who seem to be the theme of the post so far, have looked stale in their last two starts while the Flyers have looked incredibly strong so far this year. They’ve showed they can play an offensive game (vs. Washington) or a defensive game (vs. Carolina) but either way they’ll be shutting opponents down. This is the best chance for the Flyers to earn early redemption after the Pens eliminated them in the playoffs last season en route to the Cup and I expect them to play a strong game. Not sure which Pens team will show up but based on their recent performance, Philly looks like a lock to take this one at home.
Pick: Flyers -145
New York Rangers +155 at Washington Capitals -175
Last game Jose Theodore started for Washington, he played a solid game against the Bruins, holding them to 1 goal in their season opener. The Caps have also been offensive superpowers so far, averaging an astounding 5 goals per game with a 33% powerplay percentage. The Rangers are a revamped team under John Tortorella but are still a far cry from Washington’s potential. Caps redeem themselves after a tough loss in Philly on Tuesday.
Pick: Caps -175
Chicago Blackhawks +135 at Detroit Red Wings -155
These division foes started their season in Europe and will kick off a game in a position they both didn’t expect to be in this early in the season. The Wings are mired in a minor goaltending controversy after both Osgood and Howard coughed up softies in back-to-back losses against the Blues in Stockholm. However, finding ways to win without relying on their goalie is nothing new for Detroit, who has dominated Chicago 7-1 in their last 8 at home. Detroit has possibly the most solid defensive core and two-way forwards in the league and can shut down opposing offenses while also contributing a considerable scoring threat. Cristobal Huet is starting for the Hawks after allowing 4 in a loss to Florida. One important factor for the Wings to overcome is going to be their PK (56%) matched up against the Chicago PP (38%). The Hawks are also without Dave Bolland, Ben Eager, Marian Hossa, Adam Burish, and possibly Troy Brouwer. Those injuries take a shot at the depth of the Hawks’ forwards, who will be dressing D Jordan Hendry on the 4th line. The Wings haven’t been bit by the injury bug yet and it puts them in good position to win their real home opener.
Pick: Wings -155
The late games don’t really jump out at me. Too much to watch at 7!