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We’re back! After an offseason that seemed short, action-packed, and achingly long all at once, the NHL season has finally resumed in the middle of spooky season. Every season is filled with hope and anticipation for what may be, but this year there are a handful of teams that appear to be destined for the basement before the first puck is dropped. Will there prove to be more parity than last season, when playoff seeds were settled seemingly halfway through the year?
Montreal Canadiens (+1.5) vs Toronto Maple Leafs
After going 0-6-2 in the preseason, betting against the Montreal Canadiens seems like an easy proposition as we enter this season, especially against a powerhouse cup contender like the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, no matter the talent gap between these two teams, they always play each other tight.
Can the Canadiens beat the Leafs this early in the season with such a green defence? Probably not, but they should find ways to keep the game closer than it should be, especially with how well Cole Caufield has played against the Leafs in his career. Which brings us to…
Cole Caufield to score anytime vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Last year’s start to the season was a nightmare for young Caufield. Heralded as the easy favourite for the Calder Trophy before the season began, Caufield was hurt in training camp, undercut by his coach when it came to usage, lacking in confidence, and scored just a single goal in 30 games.
The rest of the season he was on fire, though, scoring 22 times in 37 games, and he’s started off on the same foot in preseason, scoring in each game he has played in. Look for a much different start for the pint-sized sniper this year.
Cale Makar to score anytime vs Chicago Blackhawks
Makar is coming off one of the most successful seasons any defenceman has ever had in NHL history, winning the Norris Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, and Stanley Cup. This year he has 28 games to make history once again.
If Makar is able to collect 20 points in his first 28 games this season, he will best Sergei Zubov as the fastest defenceman in NHL history to 200 points. If he can do that in 21 games or fewer, he’ll be the first to do so in under 200 contests. Expect Makar to play like he was shot out of a cannon to start the season.
Boston Bruins to beat Washington Capitals
Missing Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy for a large chunk of the season is going to hurt the Bruins significantly, but they’re a team that seems to thrive on discipline and rising up for each other. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci back in the fold, and Pavel Zacha added to the roster for depth down the middle, the Bruins are still an intimidating opponent.
The Capitals had a strong preseason, but I’m not convinced that they’re anything more than they were last year: former contenders desperately trying to hang on to an aging core for one last shot. The fact is they haven’t looked like a contender since they won the cup.
The Bruins, meanwhile, consistently put forward incredibly dominant regular season teams no matter what roster losses they suffer.