We are one week into the season and there are already plenty of teams that have overachieved and underachieved this season based on preseason expectations. Of course, we are still dealing with a very small sample size and overreactions are something I would advise all NHL bettors to avoid. It’s good to note which teams have gotten off to either fast or slow starts but it is not the be all, end all for those teams. Toronto, Philadelphia and Vegas are tied for the most wins in the league while Chicago and Los Angeles are the two winless teams who have played at least one game. Dallas is winless too but they have yet to play a game as they’ve had the start of their regular season schedule delayed due to COVID-19 issues.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the Wednesday NHL betting board and see if we can determine which teams have a good chance to add to the win column tonight.
Edmonton Oilers @ Toronto Maple Leafs
The Edmonton Oilers will look to get back on track in Toronto against the Maple Leafs after dropping two straight home games against the Montreal Canadiens. Edmonton’s defense and goaltending was their problem area last season and those concerns have not dissipated this season. The Oilers have yielded 3.75 goals per game and Mikko Koskinen has had to play every game so far in net with Mike Smith unavailable to play. The surprising part about the Oilers 1-3 start to the season is the downturn in their power play efficiency. Edmonton had the best power play in the NHL last season but they are just 2-for-18 with the man advantage in the first four games of this season including an 0-for-10 with the power play in the two losses against the Canadiens. The Oilers have been guilty of looking for the perfect play and not shooting the puck enough and they vow to try to get back to basics and simplify their power play starting here.
Toronto is also a team that needed to work on defense coming into the season and the last couple games have been much better from the Leafs in terms of keeping the puck out of their own net. They have surrendered just 3 goals in their last two games combined. Meanwhile, Toronto’s power play hasn’t endured the same struggles as they are 6-for-14 and have scored at least one power play goal in each game. The Leafs best players have been that so far with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander all with at least 4 points in the team’s first four games.
I think this is a decent spot for Edmonton to really dig down with a better effort in this game as they begin a four game road trip with two games in Toronto followed by two games in Winnipeg. NHL teams often want to start a road trip on a positive note and as much as Toronto has been better on defense in their last two games but they will be facing a very dangerous top six forward group that can’t be expected to remain in an offensive funk indefinitely when talking about the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. This should be a higher scoring affair. The last two meetings here in Toronto between the Oilers and Leafs have gone over the total and I expect more of the same here.
Edmonton/Toronto Over 6.5 -115
San Jose Sharks @ St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues escaped with the win in a sloppy 5-4 win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. I expect them to be better here and my mission to fade San Jose as often as possible is going to continue here. San Jose has one of the worst defensive and goaltending combinations in the NHL this season and it’s been clearly on display as the team is 28th in the NHL in higher danger scoring chances allowed and the Sharks have a league worst -1.09 expected goals per game differential. They have given up 13 goals in their first three games combined and I think they will once again struggle in their own zone here. The one piece of good news for the Sharks is they’ve been able to score goals which has kept them in each game.
Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture, and Evander Kane all have at least four points for the Sharks. St. Louis is the much better defensive team and although they have given up 12 goals in their last two games combined including that 8-0 debacle against Colorado, the Blues advanced numbers show their blue line has been very unlucky as they’ve given up the 5th fewest high danger scoring opportunities in the NHL here in the early portion of the season. St. Louis got some more depth offensively with the recent signing of Mike Hoffman and he made an impact on Monday night scoring his first goal with the Blues.
San Jose has scored 5 power play goals this season as that unit has been clicking while St. Louis has given up a whopping 8 power play goals to the opposition in just three games. Martin Jones should get the start for San Jose after Devan Dubnyk started in the 5-4 loss to St. Louis on Monday. Meanwhile, Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington owns a mediocre 3.38 GAA and is starting the season struggling like he did much of last season. The first meeting went over the total and I expect this one to be the same way. San Jose is 3-0 to the over this season and that isn’t by accident. I will also bet St. Louis once again to get the better of this San Jose team but will go the regulation route.
St. Louis In Regulation -125
San Jose/St. Louis Over 6 -105
Minnesota Wild @ Anaheim Ducks
The Minnesota Wild rallied from behind to beat the Los Angeles Kings in two straight comeback wins against the LA Kings but they were stymied and shut down by the Anaheim Ducks in a spectacular shutout performance in net by John Gibson on Monday night in a 1-0 loss. If you watched that game, you know that Minnesota should have won as they outplayed Anaheim and outshot the Ducks 34-26 but couldn’t bury any of their chances. Part of the problem is a power outage for Minnesota with the man advantage as the Wild are 0-for-16 on the power play through the first three games of the season. Kirill Kaprizov has been one of the offensive bright spots for Minnesota registering 4 points in three games with the Wild to begin his NHL career. Cam Talbot has also brought some solid goaltending to this point after struggles from Devan Dubnyk last season for Minnesota in net.
Anaheim is exactly as they appear. The Ducks have a decent enough defense and a great goaltender as John Gibson is one of the better goalies in the NHL if he can stay healthy but the team is going to be offensively challenged this season. Anaheim has generated the 3rd fewest high danger scoring chances on offense so far this season and the forward group just doesn’t have a lot of speed or game breaking offensive talent beyond their top two or three forwards. Anaheim has some ugly expected goals numbers after their first three games as they are averaging 1.73 xG per game and 2.79 xG allowed per game which means two things–the Ducks are not generating a lot of quality shots and chances and also that John Gibson’s goaltending is bailing them out and masking the fact they have allowed more quality chances than some would think.
I believe Minnesota is in a solid bounce back spot here as they deserved a better fate in the 1-0 loss to Anaheim on Monday. I’ll bet Minnesota here to avenge that defeat and earn some payback on Wednesday night.