Seems like just yesterday the St. Louis Blues won the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, but the new NHL betting season is already upon us come Wednesday. Here’s a look at two intriguing matchups this week. Check back for the latest NHL odds.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – October 1st Edition
Washington Capitals at St. Louis Blues
- When: Wednesday, 8 PM ET
- TV: NBC Sports Network
- Live Stream: NHL.tv
The past two Stanley Cup champions face off and the Blues will raise their championship banner. One of the Blues’ best attributes on their Stanley Cup-winning team was the balance in their lineup.
Brayden Schenn will center Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz on the Blues’ top line going into the regular season. Meanwhile, the team last week acquired Justin Faulk from Carolina. The team traded defenseman Joel Edmundson and prospect Dominik Bokk to Carolina for the defenseman. Not only did the Blues trade for him, but they also inked him to a seven-year deal worth $45.5M. He has played eight seasons and a total of 559 games, all with the Hurricanes. In his career, he has scored 85 goals and added 173 assists for a total of 258 points.
Faulk should reinforce a defense that was already very good. Along with the Canes, the Blues gave up the third-fewest shots per game during the 2018-19 regular season, and along with the Arizona Coyotes, they gave up the fifth-fewest goals. And during the playoffs, only the Canes surrendered fewer shots per game among teams that played at least five games. The addition of Faulk to a blue-line group that already includes Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko makes the St. Louis rearguard one of the best in hockey.
Hamstrung by the cap, the Blues stood pat for most of the offseason other than Faulk. They let free agent (and hometown boy) Patrick Maroon walk in free agency; the rugged forward signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Caps made a few tweaks to their lineup this summer. Perhaps the biggest came on the blue line, where Washington swapped top-four regular Matt Niskanen for Radko Gudas. It’s looking like blueliner Michal Kempny (hamstring) won’t play Wednesday.
Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning
- When: Thursday, 7 PM ET
- TV: NHL Network
- Live Stream: NHL.tv
The Lightning were the best team in the NHL last regular season by a mile but were shocked in a first-round playoff sweep by Columbus. Tampa Bay became the first team in the expansion era, which began in 1967-68, to go winless in the first round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season. The Bolts are favored to win the Cup this season, though. Nikita Kucherov won the Hart and Pearson trophies, along with the scoring title at 128 points last year.
Center Brayden Point (hip) won’t be ready for Tampa Bay’s season opener on Thursday, however. He was signed to a three-year, $20.25 million contract this offseason. Point had 92 points last season. In addition, new GM Julien BriseBois Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy with a $76 million, eight-year contract, added Curtis McElhinney as backup goalie, made bargain signings with Kevin Shattenkirk and 2019 Cup winner Patrick Maroon and kept Tampa Bay’s skilled core together under the $81.5 million cap.
Cedric Paquette (undisclosed) is expected to miss the first few games of the regular season. Paquette was injured in Saturday’s preseason game versus Florida. Tyler Johnson didn’t take part in Monday’s practice and he’s regarded as day-to-day. Johnson was hurt in Saturday’s game against Florida. Young Carter Verhaeghe will make his NHL debut on Thursday. Verhaeghe has made the Lightning roster out of training camp. He skated on the third line with Mathieu Joseph and Yanni Gourde on Monday.
What about the Panthers?
Panthers winger Brett Connolly is expected to be good to go for Thursday’s season opener. Connolly had been dealing with an injury and he is taking it day by day, but he was back on the ice for Monday’s practice. “It looks like he’s going to be more than ready for opening night,” said coach Joel Quenneville referring to Connolly. He skated on a line with Vincent Trocheck and Mike Hoffman.
Florida’s big offseason move was signing former Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to a seven-year contract. Bobrovsky, 30, appeared in 62 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, posting a 37-24-1 record, .913 save percentage, 2.58 goals against average and a league-leading, career-best nine shutouts. In the postseason, the 6-foot-2, 182-pound native of Novokuznetsk, Russia, played in all 10 of Columbus’ playoff games, owning six wins, a .925 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average.
Bobrovsky owns the second-highest save percentage in the league (.921) among NHL goaltenders who have appeared in at least 300 games since the 2012-13 season.
Expert NHL Betting Picks
Back Blues and Lightning.