NHL Betting Preview – Friday, January 15
We have made it through the first two nights of the 2021 NHL season. Moneyline favorites and Overs are 9-6 so far this season albeit still a very small sample size early in the new season. Most of Friday’s games are made up of rematches from games that took place on either Wednesday or Thursday and it will be very interesting to track potential trends that may develop in this unique season when the same two teams do battle for a second straight game. Four of the five games on Friday meet those criteria.
Here are my top plays from Friday’s NHL betting menu.
Washington Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres
One of my winning bets on Thursday night in the NHL was the over in the first meeting between these two teams. Unfortunately, I didn’t make up my mind to bet it until after writing my Thursday article for Line Movement and I excluded it from the last article.
I won’t make that mistake again here. Buffalo is going to be an extreme over team this season that is likely to be involved in plenty of high scoring games. The Sabres have much more offensive depth with the acquisition of Taylor Hall to play on the top line alongside Jack Eichel and we already saw Hall get his first goal with the Sabres last night. Buffalo also got veteran center Eric Staal from the Minnesota Wild and he centers a solid second line with Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart. Tobias Rieder, Dylan Cozens, and Jeff Skinner are bottom-six forwards for this team which displays the type of greater scoring depth they have.
The problem for Buffalo is at the defensive end of the ice. The Sabres were not good at keeping the puck out of their own net last season and they picked up right where they left off in that regard last night surrendering 6 goals to the Washington Capitals in a 6-4 loss. The blue line is very shaky and lacks quality shutdown defenders and the two goalies the Sabres have Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark have rarely displayed that consistency in between the pipes. Both of them had mediocre numbers last season and I’m not sure they will improve that greatly this season especially with a weaker blue line in front of them. That’s trouble against the potent four-line attack of the Washington Capitals who got goals from six different players last night. The over is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings between the Caps and Sabres. I expect a similar result here.
Washington/Buffalo Over 6 -105
Lean to Buffalo +110 as well with potential Washington starts their backup goalie Vitek Vanecek
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators
This matchup could be disastrous for the Ottawa Senators as they open their season hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is no doubt Ottawa is in the midst of a lengthy rebuild that will preclude them from competing for a Stanley Cup anytime soon and now they must try and shut down one of the most explosive offensive teams in the NHL.
The Senators must attempt to do it with one of the weakest defenses in the NHL entering the season. Outside of Thomas Chabot, this team lacks puck-moving ability from the back end and also plus defenders that can break out the puck from the offensive zone and alleviate pressure from the forecheck of opposing teams.
I think we’ll see plenty of instances this season where Ottawa’s blue line is stuck in their own zone having to defend quite a bit. Ottawa signed Matt Murray to be their #1 goalie in the offseason, but Murray is coming off consecutive subpar seasons and now must try and reboot his career playing behind a very shaky and untrustworthy Sens blue line. It’s worth noting that Ottawa ranked 30th out of 31 teams in goals allowed per game last season and only Detroit was worse.
The Senators will have a difficult time slowing down Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares, and the rest of this lethal Maple Leafs forward group. Ottawa does have some solid pieces upfront with Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, and rookie Tim Stutzle who dazzled at the World Junior Hockey Championship. The Senators also acquired Evgenii Dadonov and Derek Stepan to give them some added offensive punch in their top-six forwards.
Toronto is still a work in progress defensively and it showed in their 5-4 OT win against Montreal. The Leafs won but still yielded four goals and north of 30 shots in a very exciting, back and forth affair. I have two bets in this game. I’m taking Toronto -1.5 goals at +130 as I think their offense could overwhelm the Ottawa defense and I’m also liking Over 6.5 goals in this game. There is a decent chance Toronto could score 5 or more goals all by themselves and I also expect Ottawa to find the back of the net at least a couple of times as well.
Toronto PL -1.5 +130
Toronto/Ottawa Over 6.5 -120
St. Louis Blues @ Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche had a very lethargic performance in their first game of the season on Wednesday night against this St. Louis Blues squad as they suffered a 4-1 defeat. Colorado got what they deserved as they were outplayed in the 1st Period and the 3rd Period with the St. Louis Blues having more sustained pressure and offensive zone time while outshooting the Avalanche 26-12 in those two periods combined. The most impressive part of the victory for St. Louis was the fact all their offense came from their depth forwards as none of the big guns contributed to the scoring. All the offense for the Blues came from the third and fourth line with the likes of Jordan Kyrou and Oskar Sundqvist doing the damage. The Avalanche are too good of a team to not respond the right way following that loss where they just didn’t generate enough scoring chances and time in the offensive zone while also suffering multiple defensive lapses which led to multiple goals for the Blues. I expect Colorado to be much better in this game on Friday night. Their even-strength offense was non-existent on Wednesday and the team mentioned postgame on Wednesday needing to be better with their 5-on-5 play in this rematch against St. Louis. I think this is a game where we see Nathan MacKinnon in particular really respond with a big performance for the Colorado Avalanche in this game which he has often done previously when he plays in a game after one where he is held completely off the scoresheet like he was on Wednesday night. I am backing Colorado at -140 to bounce back and get the split of this back-to-back two-game series against St. Louis and in the goalscorer prop market, I am betting Nathan MacKinnon to score a goal which should be anywhere in the +110 to +130 price range.
Nathan MacKinnon to score a goal (price should be somewhere between +110 and +130)