Check out the Betway Insider's NHL picks and predictions page for best bets throughout the 2021-22 NHL season.

Hurricanes to beat Canadiens

Montreal has looked lost early this season and have the misfortune of playing a Hurricanes team with a lot of weapons at its disposal. On top of that, this will be a matchup of teams whose front offices have developed a bit of a boardroom rivalry. The Canadiens once attempted to offer sheet Sebastian Aho, which was matched by the Canes. Then this summer, the Hurricanes successfully signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet that the Canadiens decided not to match. That makes for a more interesting storyline going into the game and might provide a little extra motivation for Kotkaniemi as well after the organization dragged its feet on getting him signed last offseason.

The way the season has been going in Montreal, too, it seems like you can almost guarantee a Kotkaniemi goal. Through their first four games, the Habs have been outscored 15-3. Jonathan Drouin has scored two of those goals and depth defenseman Chris Wideman has the other. It’s been a brutal way to open the season.

Carolina, meanwhile is 2-0 to start the season and will be coming into the game well-rested, having not been in action for five full days. The Canes have some of their top offensive players going already with Andrei Svechnikov leading the way with three goals and an assist through the team’s first two games. With Montreal reeling the way they are, don’t expect the Hurricanes to take it easy on them.

Senators to beat Sharks 

After starting the season 2-1, Ottawa has looked energetic and they should have even more energy as Brady Tkachuk returns to the lineup. He missed the first three games but has  reached a late agreement on a new contract with the Sens. Having a player like that in the lineup is going to make a team that has played well even better.

Meanwhile, the Sharks have turned heads despite low expectations for the season. They’ve won each of their first two games and have managed to score nine goals over those two contests. Former Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson has started the season red hot for San Jose with four points, tied with Timo Meier for the team lead at this early stage.

On paper, this doesn’t look like two teams with a whole lot separating them. Senators goalie Matt Murray is coming off of IR and is expected to start the game. He’s coming off of the worst season of his career and I’m definitely concerned about that, but I also think the Senators are going to go to battle for him to help him start the season on the right foot.

At this early stage of the season, sometimes you’ve just got to go with your gut and I like the home team in this one, especially with Tkachuk in the lineup.

Flames to beat Red Wings 

The Detroit Red Wings have been mostly better than expected to start the season, while the Flames have stumbled out of the gates with a pair of losses. Thursday night’s game marks the beginning of a five-game road swing for the Flames, so the pressure is on to pick up a win against a Red Wings team that has a lot of younger players on it.

Detroit has bounced back well from their first-game meltdown against the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning each of their last two games. It is unclear at press time which goaltender will start for Detroit - Thomas Greiss has had two strong starts to get the wins, but they’ll probably want to get Alex Nedeljkovic some more game time soon. Keep an eye on that as I have a little more confidence in Greiss at the moment.

That said, I think the Flames are going to be going all out for a win in this one. Three straight losses with head coach Darryl Sutter is not a proposition anyone on that team wants to explore. The hard-driving head coach certainly won’t stand for it either. Look for Calgary to try to get the jump early in this one.

Blackhawks to beat Canucks 

At some point, the Blackhawks death spiral is going to end. They’re 0-4 and have not held a lead once over those four games. It’s been a disastrous start, but being on home ice against a team that is going through some similar struggles might help Chicago.

Vancouver is 1-3, coming off a 5-2 loss to the Sabres and 3-1 loss to the Red Wings, two teams that were viewed coming into the season as some of the NHL’s weakest. This is the second-to-last game in a six-game road swing to start the season.

You should see two very desperate teams, but the Blackhawks at least showed some signs of life in the last contest. In fact, they dominated most of the game against the New York Islanders, but couldn’t figure out goalie Ilya Sorokin until it was too late. The Blackhawks controlled 57 per cent of the shot attempts at five-on-five and had a scoring chance advantage of 23-13. They’re starting to get better, or at least looked like they were heading in the right direction before ultimately losing the game 5-1.

Both teams may need a win badly, but I’ll give the slight edge to the home side in this one. If the Blackhawks do lose a fifth straight game, though, you have to wonder if coach Jeremy Colliton’s seat is becoming even hotter.

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