Finally! The NHL hockey season is here! Saturday’s games marked the first NHL hockey in nearly a year, as 26 of the 30 teams hit the ice for the opening games of the season. Today’s slate boasts a meager six games compared to yesterday, but we will see Calgary, San Jose, Edmonton and Buffalo begin their 2013 campaigns, as well as see the Stars and Wild battle it out for a 2-0 start and the Rangers host the Penguins in a high-profile match-up. It should be another fun day of hockey, so you won’t want to miss the action–on NBC, or on the betting lines. Here are today’s quick picks.
San Jose Sharks -1.5 at Calgary Flames +1.5
The lockout shortened season can only benefit a team like the Flames, which are coming into this season with fairly low expectations as a team that is still in rebuilding mode. The Sharks, on the other hand, are looking to build off a successful, but somewhat disappointing 2011-2012 that saw them earn a playoff berth, but get eliminated early. Look for San Jose to get its season started off right and earn the win by covering -1.5, while Calgary still searches for an early season identity.
Pittsburgh Penguins +1.5 at New York Rangers -1.5
The Penguins were one of the Stanley Cup favorites coming into the season and they certainly looked good against in-state rival Philadelphia in yesterday’s opener, winning 3-1. Meanwhile, the Rangers couldn’t get anything going offensively against Boston, losing 3-1.
The Rangers will have to manage more than the 21 shots on goal they had yesterday to defeat the Penguins. The home ice should serve them well, as they went 27-12-2 at Madison Square Garden last season. The reigning Atlantic Division champs saw new star acquisition Rick Nash notch his first point in a Ranger uniform yesterday, but expect some more production going forward.
Look for the Rangers to get things going early and pick up their first win of the season by covering -1.5. They should have an even stronger team this year have already dusted the cobwebs off from yesterday’s loss.
Dallas Stars +1.5 at Minnesota Wild -1.5
Both the Stars and the Wild got off to 1-0 starts yesterday, but after several significant offseason acquisitions, the Wild bulked up the roster and will look to make a serious run this season. With home ice and a vastly improved team from last season, look for the Wild to earn their second win in two days and cover -1.5 today.
Edmonton Oilers +1.5 at Vancouver Canucks -1.5
After spending several consecutive seasons in the cellar of the Western Conference, the Oilers are hoping to see an improved team hit the ice in 2013. The Oilers will be on the road today, where they struggled last season, but they will be up against the Canucks, a team looking to rebound off a 7-3 loss to Anaheim.
The Canucks looked pretty pathetic yesterday, but I like them today at home against a team that is clearly trying to rebuild. Edmonton did start last season strong before tanking down the stretch, but I don’t think they’ll be able to upset Vancouver on the road today by covering -1.5.
Chicago Blackhawks -1.5 at Phoenix Coyotes +1.5
The Blackhawks’ confidence is already on the rise coming off a win over the defending Stanley Cup champions in the season opener 5-2, while the Coyotes managed three goals in their opener, but fell in Dallas 4-3. The Blackhawks could easily be a much bigger favorite in this one, so take the Blackhawks to cover -1.5, even on the road,