Andrew Berkshire's picks for Tuesday's action include two puck line bets.
Early in the season, it can be tough to get a grasp on which teams are going to rise above the fray. Hockey is the most random sport in terms of results among all the major sports in North America, and the league is engineered to have a lot of parity to keep the regular season entertaining. That’s why you can see a rebuilding team like the Chicago Blackhawks take down a Stanley Cup contender in the Toronto Maple Leafs last night.
Hitting the right underdog on the right night can net you a big win, but who will stand out tonight?
Montreal Canadiens (-1.5) vs Minnesota Wild 3.70
The Canadiens just lost second-line centre Kirby Dach to a knee injury that may keep him out the entire season, so it’s easy to imagine they might be deflated, but they actually kicked it up a notch after Dach left the game against the Blackhawks.
The Canadiens have been surprisingly strong at even strength so far this season, controlling 52.4 per cent of the expected goals and outscoring opponents 6-1. Special teams remain the problem, and losing Dach there won’t help.
The Wild, however, have not hit their stride so far this season, chugging along with an even scoreline at even strength, but an expected goals ratio of just 43.2 per cent at 5-vs-5. I don’t think that means much for the Wild long-term, but they haven’t been playing well in the short-term, and the Canadiens can take advantage on home ice.
Edmonton Oilers (-2.5) vs Nashville Predators 3.60
It’s been a nightmare start to the season for the Edmonton Oilers in terms of results. Head coach Jay Woodcroft is attempting to institute a new defensive system while the Oilers’ best defenceman is just returning from injury in Mattias Ekholm. The result has been their goalies rocking a shocking 75 per cent save percentage in two games.
The news isn’t all bad, though. Edmonton is still killing it outside their own crease, with a 58 per cent control of expected goals in all situations, the fourth-best mark in the league, while sitting third in scoring chance and high-danger scoring chance differential, both above 61 per cent.
Nashville has had a very strong start too, but I think they’re going to be victims of an angry Oilers team here.
Los Angeles Kings to beat Winnipeg Jets 2.65
It hasn’t been the start LA wanted after they made big moves in the summer to set themselves up for cup contention this spring. The Kings are without a win so far as their goaltending has faltered early, yet they’re second in the entire NHL in high-danger scoring chance differential and scoring chance differential overall. They’re doing a lot of good, just not being rewarded.
You could say similar about the Winnipeg Jets, and with Pierre-Luc Dubois making his return to Winnipeg after demanding a trade out, you can expect a jacked crowd and money on the board for both sides. This is going to be a fiery game, but I think the Kings have the slight edge, even on the road.
The Colorado Avalanche have bucked their usual trend of slow starts with two victories to begin the season, and are sitting pretty at third in the NHL in expected goals for percentage at 58.3 per cent in all situations, but not everyone has managed to get on the board yet. After just two games, that’s normal, but who is the most due?
That would be Artturi Lehkonen, who has 11 shots on goal in just a pair of games, and has accumulated 1.87 expected goals. Coming off of a career-high 21 goals and 51 points in just 64 games, Lehkonen has blossomed into the top-six forward who dominates at both ends he always promised to be. He’s going to strike sooner than later.