NHL Betting Preview – Saturday, January 16
Saturdays are routinely busy days in the NHL and loaded with plenty of games. The first Saturday of the 2021 season is no different. There are 10 games on the slate and I am ready to provide my strongest betting opinions on this massive Saturday schedule of NHL action from a betting perspective.
San Jose Sharks @ Arizona Coyotes
I’m going right back to the well with the Arizona Coyotes in spite of losing with them on Thursday as the Coyotes erased a 3-1 deficit to the Sharks in the 3rd Period but failed to complete the comeback and lost 4-3 in a shootout. San Jose got solid offensive contributions from a couple players they will be counting upon all season to produce for them, Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane who each notched three points in the victory.
The defense which is the major concern with this team held the fort for most of the game until Arizona struck for those two late goals in the 3rd Period to tie the game. Martin Jones who has not played well the last couple seasons in goal for the Sharks stepped up with a terrific performance turning aside 36 of 37 shots from the Coyotes. However, I will need to see that kind of solid effort to keep the puck out of their own net twice in a row before I suddenly buy into San Jose.
Arizona had their chances to win the game in overtime but couldn’t cash in prior to San Jose winning the game in a shootout. The Coyotes didn’t play that well in the first period but I thought they had the better of the play for the majority of the final two periods. San Jose got their share of chances but just failed to connect on many of them. I expect things to change here in the rematch. When I feel the better team lost the first game between two teams playing each other in back-to-back games, I’m going to be more likely to back the team that lost the first game. For more insight into my hockey betting strategy, check out my guide here.
I still have Arizona power rated as the better team. I think they are better on the blue line and in goal with Darcy Kuemper and one thing we have become used to in recent seasons is Martin Jones being unable to follow up a great game with another one. I like Arizona to bounce back and win this game.
Montreal Canadiens @ Edmonton Oilers
The Montreal Canadiens lost a hard fought, intense, back and forth game with their arch rival Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday night. Montreal started the game in control as they jumped out to a 3-1 lead but penalty trouble plagued the Canadiens late in the 2nd Period and the Leafs got on the board with a pair of power play goals to tie the game and that’s when the game really started to shift toward Toronto. Montreal got a great performance despite the loss from their offseason acquisition Josh Anderson who they got in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets sending Max Domi the other way. Anderson notched two goals and their second line center Nick Suzuki also chipped in with a goal. Montreal was better than Toronto for extended portions of the game when the game was played at even strength but the penalty problems really hurt their cause.
The Edmonton Oilers bounced back from a season opening loss to the Vancouver Canucks to beat that same Vancouver team in the rematch on Thursday night by a score of 5-2. As he so often does, Connor McDavid led the way registering the first hat trick of the NHL season and the Oilers tightened up their play at the defensive end of the ice which will once again remain the key to them having a successful season.
They can score goals but the focus remains being able to play better defensive hockey which has always been one of the main characteristics of teams coached by current Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. I am still worried about Edmonton’s goaltending tandem of Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen being able to hold up and play well throughout the season. Both are older netminders and neither one has had the propensity to put forth a stretch of excellence in between the pipes. Carey Price for Montreal is simply a better goaltender than either of the two options for Edmonton and I expect the Habs defense overall this season to be better than they showed in their season opening defeat against Toronto starting here on Saturday night. I will side with the Montreal Canadiens to get the road win.
New York Islanders @ New York Rangers
The NY Islanders showed to the NY Rangers why they got all the way to the Eastern Conference Final last season. The Isles staunch defense shut down the very dangerous Rangers offensive attack completely as the Isles got out to a quick early lead and coasted from there to a decisive 4-0 shutout win. The Islanders held the Rangers to just 24 shots on goal in the victory and the Rangers got into penalty trouble for most of the game that prevented them from getting into much of a rhythm throughout the entire game.
I am not going to be a prisoner of the moment though. I predicted this NY Rangers team would be improved and I think we’ll see this team really step up their game in all areas here. The Rangers defensively are a work in progress on the blue line but they do have two very sturdy goaltenders in Igor Shesterkin as well as Alexandar Georgiev.
The New York Islanders are a very tough team to beat when they get a lead and they showed it on Thursday as they quickly lead 2-0 and didn’t look back and really turned the neutral zone into a quagmire making it difficult for the Rangers skilled forwards to make creative plays with the puck through the middle of the ice.
I expect the NY Rangers to come out of the gate strong in this game and in the process have a solid chance at least to score the first goal which will take the NY Islanders out of their preferred comfort zone which is playing with the lead. It’s surely worth noting the Rangers are still 4-2 in the last 6 meetings between these New York rivals even after Thursday’s loss. I’ll back the Rangers to win and I will also go with the over in this game at 5.5 thinking the game will have a good chance of opening up at both ends of the ice should the Rangers grab the lead.
NY Rangers +102
NY Islanders/NY Rangers Over 5.5 -125
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Ottawa Senators
I dropped the Toronto -1.5 goals bet last night in this game between these two teams in the Battle Of Ontario but did cash over 6.5 in that one as the Senators pulled the upset as +180 underdogs and knocked off the Leafs by a score of 5-3. Ottawa showed they will be a hard working team that has enough offensive upside to be able to score goals and find the back of the net.
The Senators have enough forwards that can threaten opposing teams with Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson, Derek Stepan and Evgenii Dadonov among others and they capitalized on their chances. Ottawa is a very young team that will be a tough out but I don’t expect them to be a playoff bound team and when teams really bring their ‘A’ game against the Senators that is when this Ottawa team will likely struggle to put wins on the board.
We didn’t see the Leafs ‘A’ game on Friday night but now is the time for Toronto to respond with a much better game. Head coach Sheldon Keefe wasn’t thrilled with his team’s effort and performance in the postgame comments after the fact and to be honest goaltender Frederik Andersen has not had a great first couple games so Jack Campbell likely getting his first start of the season for Toronto in this game on Saturday night could be a good thing for the team.
Campbell was very good in the second half of the season last year after the Leafs got him at the trade deadline from the Los Angeles Kings and he had a very strong training camp and scrimmage game performance with the Leafs prior to the start of this season. I think he will step up and deliver the goods here for Toronto. One of the spots I will routinely look to bet this season is the superior team winning the rematch if they lost the first game between the two teams. Toronto fits that profile here and I will be backing them one more time on the puck line laying -1.5 goals at approximately +130.
Toronto PL -1.5 +130