Just in case you were wondering how weird hockey can be, consider that there are three undefeated teams left in the National Hockey League at the moment: the St. Louis Blues (sure), the Vegas Golden Knights (cute) and the New Jersey Devils (what the?). And that’s not to mention that our good friends, the Colorado Avalanche, who completed a home-and-home sweep over the Boston Bruins, are 3-1 with a +6 goal differential. So yeah, things are a bit wonky out of the gate.
Last night’s action: It was an odd night of hockey, and even though there was no play in this one, we have to start with the Devils doubling up the Leafs 6-3 in Toronto. New Jersey moved to 3-0 thanks to a 47-save performance from Cory Schneider and a 3-on-5 goal by Brian Gibbons. In Anaheim, the Islanders (our pick) were handed an L by the Ducks even though they were outplayed by New York. But we were paid back by the Flames, who defeated the Kings despite being second best for most of the contest. Just another night in the NHL, eh?
It feels like the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing a good team every night, and that trend continues on Thursday as they travel to Amalie Arena to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both the Pens and Bolts are not wanting for goals, but they are both having trouble keeping the puck out of the net to start the year. There’s no reason to get involved in this one.
The undefeated Blues continue their road swing in Sunrise for a tilt with the Florida Panthers. The Panthers have been off since Saturday and have split their first two games. The odds seem on point here, so it’s a pass.
The first play of the day comes in the strength vs. strength showdown between Dallas and Nashville. The Stars’ potent offense will go up against the Preds’ stalwart defense in a Central Division showdown. However, the Predators are missing two of their best rearguards, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, so the wrong team is favored here. The Stars are in range at this number.
The Minnesota Wild are one of four winless teams left in the circuit, and they will hope to open their account with a victory over Chicago. The Blackhawks are an appropriate favorite here and the price seems on the mark, so it’s one we’ll skip.
Another winless team, the Arizona Coyotes, host the Red Wings, who have taken two of three to start the year. Coming off two losses to the Golden Knights, the Coyotes seem underpriced here. Their goaltender, Antti Raanta, was pulled from the game in Vegas on Tuesday night after being shelled for four goals in the first. With all of that, this seems like the market is overreacting a bit. The Coyotes are the pick and play here.
The remaining two winless teams, San Jose and Buffalo, meet in the final game on the card. The Sabres haven’t looked all that great coming out of the gate, but this number suggests they have less than a 40 percent chance of winning the game, which is off. Run with the underdog Sabres here and hope for the best.
(Season to date: 10-7, +6.31u)
[Photo: Kirby Lee, USA Today]