11-13: I would like the to thank the Flames for convincing bettors everywhere that they are really underdogs with Curtis McElhinney in net. Not to disregard Auld’s good game but the Flames still offer virtually no scoring support for McElhinney, relying on him to come up big, which he hasn’t done yet. Keep an eye on this and see if the trend continues as the season goes on. In the meantime, lots of picks today!
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Atlanta Thrashers +125 at Ottawa Senators -145
The Thrashers are bringing their hot start into Ottawa (2-1-0) to try and make it 3-0-0. Atlanta is averaging 5 goals per game over their first two, providing lots of scoring support for backup Ondrej Pavelec in Kari Lehtonen’s absence. Atlanta overpowered Tampa Bay in their season opener but really took it to the Blues in their home opener on Thursday. Pavelec proved he can handle the Blues and I expect he will have no trouble against the Senators. The Sens are starting backup Brian Elliott tonight who is hoping to build on his fill-in 16-8 2.77 GAA 2008-09 season. Elliott is capable enough of holding off the Thrashers but I worry about the rest of the Senators. Sure the Sens have two wins but they came against the Leafs and Islanders after being hammered by the Rangers. The Thrashers are a playoff-calibre team this year and the Senators haven’t proven they can overcome a real challenge.
Pick: Thrashers +125
Anaheim Ducks +130 at Philadelphia Flyers -150
This game should also be known as the Pronger Cup as Chris Pronger takes on his former team. The Flyers have dominated the Ducks over their last 10 meetings to the tune of 6-3-1 and 3-0 over the last 3 seasons. In addition, the Ducks went 1-5-1 against Atlantic Division opponents last season while Philly went unbeaten, 4-0-3, against Pacific Division opponents. In fact, Anaheim hasn’t won in Philly since 2000. Philly has played every game tough this season, including their 5-4 loss to the Pens on Thursday, and I’m expecting nothing less here. The Ducks finally got their first win Thursday, hammering the Bruins 6-1, but this game will get down to more than just scoring. The Ducks are also at risk of repeating their 2008-09 slow start while the Flyers are starting off strong. They’re gritty and hungry (yep, lame Hartnell joke) and want to redeem themselves after a disappointing home loss.
Pick: Flyers -150
Washington Capitals +105 at Detroit Red Wings -125
Over. Over. Over. Over. Over. Over. I can’t say it enough. When you put Zetterberg and Datsyuk on a line together, they could be the most legitimate scoring threat in the league. Franzen going down will only motivate the Wings to score even more, leading to trouble for Caps starter Jose Theodore (2-5 2.44 GAA lifetime vs. Detroit). Theodore has been the Caps’ best starter so far but their defensive woes are clear, averaging 3.75 goals against per game. Detroit’s D hasn’t been much better, allowing 3.67 goals per game but finally looked better at the Joe against Chicago on Thursday. The game total has gone over in 5 of their last 6 meetings, with the last under dating back to 2003 (Remember that Hasek guy?). To help matters, Osgood has a lifetime 3.14 GAA and a .877 SV% against the Caps.
Pick: Over 6.0 goals -125
Buffalo Sabres +100 at Nashville Predators -120
Buffalo just can’t score this year, it’s as simple as that. They’ve mustered up 3 goals so far in 2 games this season, both at home. Buffalo has also only allowed 3 goals so far in the season. Nashville on the other hand has only allowed 4 goals in 2 games this season while scoring 6. See where I’m going with this? Neither team is looking like an offensive powerhouse and this doesn’t appear to be a breakout game for either of them. Pekka Rinne gets his first start for Nashville and needs to prove himself after a horrid preseason where he lost his starting job to Dan Ellis’ solid play. Rinne has a 30-save shutout against Buffalo in their only meeting last season. I don’t expect a repeat of that but I do expect him to perform a little better than his preseason effort. Ryan Miller has looked stellar so far this season and gets the start for Buffalo and is 1-2 lifetime with a 3.18 GAA. Of their last 3 meetings, dating back to 2006, the winner of this matchup has gone to the road team and I expect the same result here. Buffalo is 4-1 in their last 5 on the road (dating back to last season) and a solid 4-2 on the road against Nashville.
Pick: Sabres +100 and Under 5.5 goals -120
Columbus Blue Jackets +105 at Phoenix Coyotes -125
Both teams have been semi-surprises after their 2-1 start. Columbus offed Minnesota and Vancouver in solid starts before succumbing to Dany Heatley on Thursday. The Coyotes surprisingly shutout the Penguins before losing a grinding game to Buffalo. The Dave Tippett defense-led Coyotes surprised everyone with their successful attempts to jam opposing offenses up the middle and restrict them from carrying the puck into the zone resulting in very low scoring affairs on their East Cost road trip. If it works, why deviate from it? Ken Hitchcock knows a thing or two about grinding out a hockey game as well and will absolutely focus his giant defensemen on tying up Phoenix’s scorers (Radim Vrbata leads the Coyotes in scoring). Both teams have only had one game (out of three) this season where they have scored more than 3 goals. Steve Mason and Ilya Bryzgalov are more than capable of stopping their fair share of pucks as well despite Mason’s struggles in the desert (0-3 with a 3.77 GAA). In four meetings last season, the total went under in three of them. UPDATE: Garon is starting for the BJs but I still like the under on this. Garon is 5-3 with a 2.36 GAA in his career against Phoenix.
Pick: Under 5.5 goals -115
Scary stat of the day: Vesa Toskala is 6-1 lifetime vs. the Pens. Pittsburgh is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Toronto. Reminder: Toskala has a 4.97 GAA this season.