No question that the marquee game of every NHL regular season is the annual Winter Classic, which is held outdoors each New Year’s Day. This year, the Dallas Stars get to host for the first time and it will be held at the historic Cotton Bowl against Nashville. Here’s a look at two intriguing NHL Betting matchups this week, including the Winter Classic. Check back for NHL odds.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – December 30th edition
NY Islanders vs Washington Capitals
- When: Tuesday, 1 PM ET
- TV: ESPN
- Live Stream: NHL.tv
These are the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division, although the Capitals are starting to pull away a bit. Second meeting between the teams. On Oct. 4 in Brooklyn, the Caps won 2-1. T.J. Oshie scored the tiebreaking goal, and young Caps netminder Ilya Samsonov stopped 25 shots in his NHL debut. He was the 22nd overall pick in 2015 who played for Hershey of the AHL last season. Jakub Vrana also scored for Washington. Devon Toews scored for the Islanders and Semyon Varlamov, making his Islanders debut, made 26 saves. The Islanders pulled Varlamov for an extra skater with about a minute left, but couldn’t get the tying goal.
The Caps lead the NHL in points, yet Coach Todd Reirden isn’t totally thrilled yet. “Far too many penalties, obviously, and if I had to point to one negative [this season], that would be it.” Washington ranks fourth in penalty minutes accumulated. On the bright side, the Capitals are also tied for second place with in penalty kill percentage.
What about the Islanders?New York ended a three-game skid Sunday with a 3-1 upset win at Minnesota. Semyon Varlamov allowed just one goal on 26 shots. Ryan Pulock and Matt Martin scored less than 2 minutes apart early in the third period. Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy had an assist for his 300th career point. The Islanders have allowed a league-low 97 goals through 37 games.
Washington lost 6-4 at Carolina on Saturday. Alex Ovechkin scored his 256th career goal on the power play to move into third place in the all-time standings. Ovechkin was tied with Teemu Selanne for third heading into action Saturday. Dave Andreychuk leads with 274 while Ovechkin is nine behind the second place Brett Hull who has 265. Braden Holtby allowed five goals on just 28 shots. Holtby hasn’t been sharp lately, dropping three of his past four starts.
Right winger Tom Wilson and defenseman Michal Kempny both sat out due to injury/illness. They are questionable for this one.
Nashville Predators vs Dallas Stars
- When: Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC
- Live Stream: NHL.tv
This is the 12th Winter Classic, and while it has lost a bit of luster it’s still a pretty cool event. In this writer’s opinion, though, it belongs outdoors in a cold-weather location and not somewhere like Dallas.
Dallas is the ninth team to play host to the game, joining Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington. Boston, Buffalo and Chicago are the only two-time hosts. Dallas is the 12th team to participate in a Winter Classic game. The Blackhawks lead all NHL clubs with four appearances in the game (2009, 2015, 2017, and 2019).
The Stars and Predators are the 24th and 25th teams to participate in a Winter Classic, Stadium Series or Heritage Classic outdoor game. Only six teams have never participated in an outdoor game: Arizona, Carolina, Columbus, Florida, Tampa Bay and Vegas. Cotton Bowl Stadium is the sixth football venue to host the game and third college football venue to have a Winter Classic, joining Michigan Stadium and Notre Dame Stadium.
The Cotton Bowl previously hosted the Cotton Bowl Classic, a college bowl game traditionally held on New Year’s Day, until that game moved to AT&T Stadium in 2010. Now, it only hosts the annual Texas-Oklahoma game in the Big 12 and the First Responder Bowl.
Fresh LookBoth teams will have unique jerseys for the game. For the Stars, theirs celebrates Texas hockey history and the rich heritage that preceded the Dallas Stars franchise.
It’s the second meeting of the season between these division rivals. On Dec. 14 in Nashville, the Stars won 4-1. Blake Comeau, Roope Hintz, Jamie Oleksiak and Andrew Cogliano each scored and Alexander Radulov had two assists to help the Stars rally from a goal down early in the second period. Anton Khudobin stopped 37 shots. Nashville’s Austin Watson scored the game’s first goal at 1:04 of the second period. The Stars then took over the scoring from there. Pekka Rinne finished with 18 saves.
That was the first meeting between the teams since the Stars eliminated the Predators in the first round of the playoffs last season.