Whether it be Mikko Rantanen’s league-leading 21 points, the Montreal Canadiens’ surprisingly strong start, or the L.A. Kings shockingly poor one, the 2018-19 season has already had its fair share of noteworthy talking points.
Now that all 31 teams have hit the double-digit mark in games played, we’re starting to get a stronger sense of where each club stands. And with the contenders continuing to separate themselves from the pretenders, now is as good a time as any to start sprinkling some wagers.
There’s a full 12-game slate on tap for Saturday’s NHL board, with plenty of tasty matchups to sink your teeth – and wallet – into. Below are my gold, silver, and bronze picks with a few side bets that I’m also feeling.
Philadelphia Flyers @ San Jose Sharks – Pick: Sharks
A notoriously stellar home team over the past decade, San Jose has actually been sputtering somewhat at the Shark Tank this season, totalling a slightly pedestrian 2-2-1 record. With that said, the Sharks have been dominant against Philly over the last ten games, going 8-1-1 overall.
As for the Flyers, Dave Hakstol’s men are on the tail end of their west coast swing and have bounced back with wins in their last two after starting the season with losses in seven of their first 11. However, Philly is once again struggling to find even a shadow of a starting netminder (this is a recording), as Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, and Michal Neuvirth have all already seen time in the blue paint this campaign for the Flyers.
Philadelphia has given up the second-most goals in the league next at 50, and I expect that number to rise Saturday night in San Jose.
Edmonton Oilers @ Detroit Red Wings – Pick: Oilers
If you need another reason other than Connor McDavid to take the Oilers against the lowly Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton is fresh off a neat-and-tidy victory over the Blackhawks and have wins in seven of their last 10.
The usual suspects have been the leading the way for the Oil, as McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pace the team in points with 17, 14, and 14, respectively. That trio should have a field day against a rag-tag Detroit blue line that has already given up the second-most goals against in the Eastern Conference this season with 49. Forward Dylan Larkin has been solid for the Wings, posting six goals and eight assists for 14 points through 13 games. But, after that, Detroit leaves a whole lot to be desired at both ends of the rink.
Let’s not over think this one too much, the Oilers are trending in the right direction, and the Red Wings? Well, that new arena is pretty sweet, right?
Columbus Blue Jackets @ L.A. Kings – Pick: Blue Jackets
Jon Tortorella’s squad has had the somewhat unfortunate distinction of being one of those teams that has built the recent reputation of being good but not great. Looking to shed that moniker this season, CBJ has been mostly solid to start the year, posting 14 points through 12 games. Eight of those points have come on the road, the same place the Jackets find themselves Saturday in L.A.
On the other hand, the Kings have been downright bad. Starting No. 1 goaltender Jon Quick has already suffered two injuries, and is now on the shelf for the foreseeable future. The net in Hollywood now belongs to unproven de facto starter Jack Campbell (only 16 career NHL games played) and perennial backup Peter Budaj.
With that and Columbus’ solid 4-1 road record in mind, don’t be shy about throwing down on the Blue Jackets.
New Jersey Devils @ New York Islanders – Pick: Devils
Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres – Pick: Over at 6
Carolina Hurricanes @ Vegas Golden Knights – Pick: Hurricanes
Flip Livingstone is a former NHL writer for theScore with past experience at such outlets as Postmedia, Hockey Night in Canada, and the CBC. You can follow him on Twitter @FlipLivingstone.