The NHL’s Winter Classic was held in a non-cold weather city for the first time last week on New Year’s Day with Dallas hosting at the Cotton Bowl and rallying to beat Nashville. It’s back to a cold-weather location for Jan. 1, 2021, as the Minnesota Wild will host for the first time. It will be at Target Field. The league has yet to decide the opponent, but a Central Division rival is likely. Here’s a look at two intriguing early-week NHL Betting matchups. Check back for Mybookie NHL odds.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – January 6th Edition
Pittsburgh Bruins vs Las Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas is led by netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, who began his career in Pittsburgh. Fleury was the No. 1 overall pick in 2003 and during his 13 seasons with the team won Stanley Cup championships in 2009, 2016 and 2017. On June 21, 2017, with the emergence of Matt Murray, Fleury waived his no trade and no movement clauses to be left exposed by the Penguins in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, where he was subsequently selected by the Golden Knights.
This wraps up the season series between the franchises. On Oct. 19, Pittsburgh lost 3-0 at home to Vegas. Fleury stopped 29 shots against his former team. “Last time I was in Pittsburgh, I let in five goals,” Fleury said. “I wanted to make sure that wasn’t happening again.” Fleury allowed five goals on 38 shots in a 5-4 loss against the Penguins in his initial return to Pittsburgh on Feb. 6, 2018. He didn’t start when Vegas last played in Pittsburgh on Oct. 11, 2018.
Paul Stastny scored a power-play goal in the second period, and William Karlsson and Mark Stone added empty-netters in the final 90 seconds. The Penguins played without six regulars, including five of their top nine forwards and a defenseman from their No. 1 pairing. Tristan Jarry made 21 saves for Pittsburgh.
Why the Penguins should be your NHL Betting pick?The Penguins have been hammered by injuries this season and were hit by another major one last week. Jake Guentzel will miss 4-6 months following surgery on his right shoulder. There’s a chance that he’d be available at some point during the playoffs. Guentzel had 20 goals and 43 points in 39 games this season. Last season, Guentzel was the first 40-goal scorer not named Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby since James Neal scored 40 in 2011-2012.
Guentzel was hurt when slammed into the boards last Monday vs. Ottawa. Coach Mike Sullivan described Guentzel — who helped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2017 — as “one of the elite players in the league.” Pittsburgh is expected to be active in the trade market with the loss of Guentzel. The trade deadline is Feb. 24.
Believe it or not, the Pens also have had stars Crosby and Malkin both playing for a grand total of four periods this season.
Buffalo Sabres vs St. Louis Blues
Last meeting of the season between these clubs. On Dec. 10 in Buffalo, the Sabres won 5-2. Jack Eichel scored two goals, and Sam Reinhart, Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons each had a goal. Eichel put the Sabres ahead 3-2 about six minutes into the third period. He Eichel scored into an empty net with two seconds remaining. Linus Ullmark made 28 saves. Troy Brouwer and Alex Pietrangelo had goals for the Blues. Jake Allen stopped 28 shots.
Buffalo is without one of its key players in winger Jeff Skinner. He suffered an upper-body injury in Friday’s game against the Boston Bruins following a collision with David Pastrnak in front of the Sabres bench. It was an ugly way for Skinner’s 700th NHL game to end. Skinner has struggled this season while recording 11 goals and 19 points in 39 games. He got a $72 million contract in the offseason and had started to play better of late. The Sabres are also without forwards Johan Larsson (lower body), Tage Thompson (upper body) and Vladimir Sobotka (knee) due to injury.
Why the Blues should be your NHL Betting Pick?The Blues have survived well without their star forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who had shoulder surgery in late October. Tarasenko isn’t sure if he will be able to return before the end of the regular season but could help the team in the playoffs – assuming the defending Stanley Cup champions make it.
St. Louis hosts the All-Star Game later this month. Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly and Jordan Binnington will represent the Blues for the Central Division at the game. All-Star Weekend will be held Jan. 24-25 at Enterprise Center, marking the first time since 1988 that St. Louis has played host to the event. Binnington will be making his first NHL All-Star appearance after arriving in the NHL midway through last season. The Blues’ goaltender became the first rookie goalie in NHL history to collect all 16 wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs en route to capturing the championship.