National Lacrosse League Betting Picks and Odds: NLL Week 1 Best Bets
New York Riptide vs Philly Wings
The 2023-24 National Lacrosse League season is finally here! The 21-week schedule kicks off with five games during the league’s annual “Faceoff Weekend” and I have bets for three of those games.
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National Lacrosse League Odds, Picks
Halifax Thunderbirds (-2.5) vs. Saskatchewan Rush
|Friday · 7 p.m. ET
Odds via bet365. Sign up with Action's bet365 bonus code to get bonus bets for all the upcoming National Lacrosse League matches!
The season starts with a matchup between the Halifax Thunderbirds and Saskatchewan Rush. Halifax is a 1.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks, but 2.5-point favorite at bet365. The total is currently 24.5 at most sportsbooks.
I was actually pretty high on this Halifax team heading into this season, despite trading away Chris Boushy and some of their veterans getting a year older. While they’ve had first-round exits in the playoffs two seasons in a row at the hands of the Toronto Rock, the new league format that eliminated conferences should benefit them if they finish in the top half of the league (and potentially avoid playing Buffalo or Toronto in the first round).
Yet, they’ll likely start the season without three of their six leading scorers from last season. Boushy is now in Toronto and Randy Staats and Eric Fannell were all on the PUP list as of this morning. Cody Jamieson was recently activated from the PUP list, but he could be somewhat banged up as well even with the news that he’ll be in the lineup.
Halifax still has other playmakers, but may need to rely on its defense, which performed under expectations last season. This could be a defensive slugfest to start the season, and that favors the 2.5-point underdog.
The Rush got younger this offseason, acquiring Victoria natives Zach Manns and Adam Jay from Toronto and Patrick Dodds from Panther City. While they traded two of their top four leading scorers in Mark Matthews and Dan Lintner to Toronto, the built-in chemistry between Manns and Dodds along with veteran forwards Robert Church and Ryan Keenan should be able to still produce.
However, Saskatchewan’s biggest strength this season should be on the defensive end. Jay is a nice addition to a team that will be without either Kyle Rubisch or Chris Corbeil for the first time since 2012. Yet, Bobby Kidd III showed promise in his second season last year and both Holden Garlent and Mike Messenger provide a veteran presence for the young Rush defense.
The biggest addition to the defense is arguably goaltender Frank Scigliano, who is looking to bounce back after a shaky season last year. If he can return to 2021-22 season form, the Rush should improve this season.
Given the injuries to Halifax and current upside of Saskatchewan, I think there is value in betting the Rush to cover the 2.5-point spread (-150) on bet365 and I even like betting a 0.5 unit on their moneyline odds at +170.
Picks: Rush +2.5 (1 unit), Rush ML (0.5 unit)
Vancouver Warriors vs. Panther City Lacrosse Club (-1.5)
|Panther City Odds
|Friday · 10 p.m. ET
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook. When betting lacrosse, register with Action Network's Caesars Sportsbook promo code today for a sign-up offer.
The late-night Friday matchup features a team that I’m expecting to improve and another that should regress this season. Panther City is a 1.5-point favorite and the total is 22.5.
Panther City has been competitive in just their first two seasons as a club, even making the playoffs last year with a 10-8 record. However, this offseason they saw 2021-22 Rookie of the Year finalist Patrick Dodds and Nathan Grennon depart and traded defender Liam Byrnes at the end of last season.
Acquiring Callum Crawford last season was a big move and Will Maclom and Jonathan Donville have proven to be as good as advertised, but I don’t think this team will match its 202-23 success. As impressive as Nick Damude has been in net, they didn’t do a whole lot to strengthen their defense and I expect a bit of regression this year given their arguably tougher schedule.
Meanwhile, the Warriors completely revamped their roster this offseason. While Mitch Jones was traded to Philadelphia last season, Shawn Evans retired and Logan Schuss departed in free agency, the offense added forward Kevin Crowley in free agency and retained three of their top four leading scorers in Keegan Bal, Adam Charalambides and Kyle Killen.
The defense should also improve, with veteran goaltender Aaron Bold staying on after joining the team later in the 2022-23 season and defenders Ryan Dilks and Matt Beers coming over in free agency. The team also has high expectations for rookie defender and 2022 third-overall pick Owen Grant joining fellow young defenseman Reid Bowering.
The biggest upgrade for Vancouver may be at the head coaching position. Long-time Calgary Roughnecks head coach Curt Malawsky chose to be closer to home and take over coaching duties of the Warriors this offseason.
The 2023 NLL Coach of the Year posted a 90-80 regular season record during his time as Calgary’s head coach, making the playoffs in eight of nine seasons and appearing in two NLL Championship Finals. If anyone can turn this Warriors team around, it’s him.
The Warriors opened as high as +210 on the moneyline before getting steamed down, but I think there’s still value in betting them on the moneyline at +140 or better. Currently Caesars is offering the longest odds at +145. Bet this new-look Warriors team to get an outright win on Friday night.
Pick: Warriors ML
New York Riptide vs. Philadelphia Wings (-1.5)
|New York Odds
|Saturday · 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via bet365
How about we bet a total for the final game of the weekend? The New York Riptide host the Philadelphia Wings to open the season and while most sportsbooks have the total at 24.5, bet365 is offering a 22.5.
The Wings' offense looks to be even better than in years past. They’ll get a full season of Mitch Jones and also added Rochester’s second-leading scorer Holden Cattoni who joins his brother Taite, who showed promise last year. A roster consisting of Jones, both Cattonis, Joe Resetarits, Ben McIntosh and Blaze Riorden should have no problems scoring.
While Scott Dominey is a welcomed addition, head coach Paul Day didn’t do much to fix one of their glaring issues in previous seasons: transition defense. They also traded away Trevor Baptiste, who provided an edge at faceoff and in transition.
Even though Baptiste’s absence may not be as impactful as some other moves, I don’t expect to see much improvement out of this defense even with Zach Higgins in the cage.
Meanwhile, the Riptide has similar issues on the backend. New York traded Dominey, their leader in caused turnovers, lost Dan MacRae to retirement and didn’t re-sign Chad Cummings. While Cameron Dunkerley looked to be an improvement over Steve Orleman, I still have questions about this defense that allowed the second-most goals against last year.
This offense — which scored 10+ points in 13 of 18 games last year — will be just fine. They added Kiel Matisz to replace the loss of Tyler Digby and return their top three leading scorers in MVP candidate Jeff Teat, Connor Kernan and Reilly O’Connor. They should be able to have success against this Wings defense.
Furthermore, these teams have averaged a combined 24.2 goals per game in their past five meetings and have surpassed this total four of those five times. Expect a lot of scoring on Saturday and bet this total to go over 22.5 (-120 on bet365).
Pick: Over 22.5