NHL Betting Preview: Raanta Makes Coyotes A Live Underdog in Dallas
Brad Mayer, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Clayton Keller
Betting Odds: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres
- Bruins moneyline: -135
- Stars moneyline : +115
- Over/Under: 5.5 (-125/+105)
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
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The Boston Bruins got walloped, 7-0, by the Washington Capitals in D.C. on Wednesday night. It was a game to forget for Tuukka Rask, who let in five goals on 19 shots before being lifted for Jaroslav Halak.
These things happen over the course of an 82-game season, of course, but the B’s now face the unenviable task of traveling to Buffalo to face the Sabres.
The Sabres were an absolute disaster in 2017-18 but that ended up netting Buffalo Rasmus Dahlin in the draft. He immediately improved the Sabres’ defense from bad to mediocre, and that’s a big jump.
The Sabres have some serious scoring depth with Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner pacing the forwards. They are strong down the middle and decent on the wings. Carter Hutton was great for the Blues last season, but goalies are fickle, and I wouldn’t say I trust the journeyman to be a No. 1 for an entire season.
There are some natural biases playing a role in this number. First of all, nobody wants to bet on bad teams, and the Sabres were the worst team in the NHL last season. Secondly, bettors will naturally lean toward the Bruins, one of the league’s best teams, thinking that they can’t lose two games in a row or that they will come out extra motivated after being drubbed.
The reality is that this is a team that is on the second night of a back-to-back and it is playing on the road. This game is pretty close to a coin flip, so I’m rolling with the Sabres at +110 or above.
Bet: Buffalo +115
Betting Odds: Arizona Coyotes at Dallas Stars
- Coyotes moneyline: +160
- Stars moneyline : -185
- Over/Under: 5.5 (-130/+110)
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
The Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars both come into the 2018-19 season with raised expectations. While the Stars are expected to contend for a playoff spot in the Central Division, the Coyotes were a trendy sleeper pick in the preseason.
The Coyotes, even without Alex Galchenyuk and Christian Dvorak, still have a solid group of forwards and their defense may end up underrated if Alex Goligoski and Niklas Hjalmarsson find their form.
The crown jewel of the Coyotes’ roster, though, is in goal. The hockey world is expecting big things from Antti Raanta in 2018-19, and he could end up being a top-five goalie this season.
On paper the Stars look like a team that should be known for offense, but under Ken Hitchcock — a coach known for defensive structure — Dallas finished with the second-best xGA/60 (expected goals allowed per 60 minutes at 5v5) in 2017-18. With Hitchcock gone, I expect the Stars to play a more expansive style this season.
The Stars’ biggest strength is right at the top of the lineup card. They have one of the league’s most dynamic lines leading the way (Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov) and John Klingberg is the real deal on defense.
The Stars do lack depth at both ends of the ice, however, and I think the Coyotes’ middle six could give them an advantage.
These odds suggest the Stars win this game nearly 65% of the time. That is a bit high, and I think the Coyotes are a live underdog with Raanta in net.
Bet: Arizona Coyotes +160
Betting Odds: Philadelphia Flyers at Vegas Golden Knights
- Flyers moneyline: +140
- Golden Knights moneyline : -160
- Over/Under: 6 (+100/-120)
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
- Channel: NBCSN
The Golden Knights are back in action for the first time since falling in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. It still feels surreal to write that.
The Flyers made it to the postseason in ’17-18 thanks to their best player, Claude Giroux, putting up MVP-like numbers. Philadelphia is young, but this is a solid team that can roll three scoring lines.
On defense, the Flyers will lean on Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, but this isn’t a bad unit by any stretch. Brian Elliott is a bang-on average NHL goalie, and that’s about all I have to say about that.
Vegas’ top six can hang with almost any team in the NHL, and it only got better with the additions of Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty. The two veterans give the Knights a legitimate second line and should take some of the heat off the top line.
Still, Vegas has holes in its bottom six — the fourth line is a problem — and the back end of its defense. The loss of Nate Schmidt (suspension) weakens an already suspect defense group, and it wouldn’t be wise to expect Marc-Andre Fleury to stand on his head every game.
The Knights are more likely to win, but at +140 the Flyers have my attention. Hockey isn’t a very popular sport to bet, but I expect the public to back Vegas here (and most nights in the early going), so this will be an interesting number to monitor.
Bet: Philadelphia Flyers +140