Can Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals go back-to-back this season after claiming the first Stanley Cup trophy in franchise history last season?
Will the Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights make another run at winning it all in just their second season after nearly becoming the first expansion team in North American sports history to do just that a year ago?
With the start of the 2018-19 NHL season set to get underway in just over 48 hours, now is a perfect time for the first group of Top NHL betting picks for the week. We’re going to get started in the nation’s capitol where Alex Ovechkin and the defending champions will host a Boston Bruins team that was phenomenal in its own right last season.
Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week – October 1st Edition
Boston at WashingtonWhen: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 7:30 PM ET Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, District of Columbia NHL Odds: Washington -1.5 / Total: 5.5
Boston went a stellar 50-20-12 last season to finish with the fifth-most points in all of hockey and just one point behind Toronto in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins were elite at both ends of the ice in finishing sixth in scoring (3.3 gpg) and fourth in goals allowed (2.6 gpg).
Boston has a blossoming star in 22-year-old right winger David Pastrnak who finished with a career-high 80 points a year ago and another consistent scorer in veteran right-winger Brad Marchand had 85 points last season to tie his career high. Veteran goalie Tuukka Rask quieted his naysayers by going 31-6-3 with a 2.19 GAA, .923 save percentage and three shutouts from Nov. 29 to the end of the regular season after a slow start.
33-year-old Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals went 49-26-7 last season to before going on to beat Columbus, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Vegas in the playoffs to win it all. The Caps might not be among the very top favorites to win the 2019 Stanley Cup championship, but I think they should be. Washington still has a bunch of talent outside of Ovechkin with guys like 26-year-old center Evgeny Kuznetsov, goaltender in Braden Holtby and veteran center Nicklas Backstrom.
Boston will be a legitimate contender this season and they went an encouraging 22-12-7 on the road last season but Washington went 28-11-2 at home last season and they’ll be more than fired up in their 2018 home opener. Back the Caps to get the big home win in this one.
NHL Betting Pick: Washington 3 Boston 2
Winnipeg at St. LouisWhen: Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET Where: Enterprise Center, St. Louis, Missouri NHL Odds: TBA
Winnipeg was outstanding in going 52-20-10 last season to finish second to Nashville in all of hockey with a whopping 114 points. The Jets were completely phenomenal at both ends of the ice in finishing second in scoring (3.3 gpg) and fifth in goals allowed (2.6 gpg). 20-year-old superstar right-winger Patrik Laine ranks second in goals per game (0.52) since entering the NHL in 2016-17. Center Blake Wheeler and goalie Connor Hellebuyck are now legitimate stars.
St. Louis went 44-32-6 last season to finish in last place in the Central Division but the Blues added a bunch of talent in the offseason and they’ll be looking to reach the postseason at the very least this coming season. Still though, St. Louis isn’t nearly as good as Winnipeg and I believe the Jets are going to come out with a statement-making effort to get their 2018-19 campaign off on the right foot.
NHL Betting Pick: Winnipeg 4 St. Louis 2
Philadelphia at VegasWhen: Thursday, October 4, 2018 at 10:00 PM ET Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada NHL Odds: TBA
Philadelphia went 42-26-14 last season to finish third behind Washington and Pittsburgh in the Metro and reach the playoffs. The Flyers ranked 12th in scoring (3.0 gpg) and 15th in goals allowed (2.9 gpg) and they made a really nice offseason addition by signing veteran forward James van Riemsdyk to go along with star center Claude Giroux (102 points) and right winger Jakub Voracek.
Vegas was the biggest feel-good story in all of sports last year as they nearly became the first expansion team in north American sports history to win their league’s championship in their inaugural campaign. The Knights went 51-24-7 to win the Pacific Division with 109 points. More importantly, the Knights are still loaded, starting with all-star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, center William Karlsson, left winger Jonathan Marchessault and right-winger Reilly Smith. Vegas was outstanding at home last season (29-10-2) while Philadelphia was solid on the road (20-13-8). the Knights will get the big win to kick off their second season in style.
NHL Betting Pick: Vegas 3 Philadelphia 1