There are just two games in the NHL tonight with the Golden Knights visiting the Kings out West and the Tampa Bay Lightning traveling to New York to take on the Rangers. Both games rate out as incredibly close contests with the Rangers and Kings both sitting as small home favorites at -115 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Golden Knights -105
These two teams are about as even as you can get in the preseason rankings and projections. Both squads project for around 95-97 points with Vegas sporting a 96.5 over/under on points on DraftKings Sportsbook and the Kings a 95.5 total. Both teams also featured very lackluster special teams play in 2021-22, sitting below average in penalty-kill and power-play efficiency. However, both teams ended the season inside the top 10 in five on five xGF% (expected goal percentage).
Ultimately when two teams are projecting this close, I like going with the underdog, and that feels like the best play here. Vegas has a brand new coach, showed well as a team in the preseason —with new goaltender Logan Thompson posting a .924 save percentage in three games of work — and should be the side with the chip on their shoulder early after bombing out of the playoff race late last year. The Kings weren’t a dominant home team last year either and will be facing a new system with Bruce Cassidy now in charge for the Golden Knights. Take the bigger odds on Vegas to start the new season with a win.
Neither of these teams were very good in preseason, but it is worth noting that it was New York who compiled the better record. The Rangers also enter this game healthier with Jacob Trouba (questionable) the only real question mark on their roster for opening night. Tampa Bay is without a critical part of their top six with center Anthony Cirelli out, and their defense is going to be a patchwork affair with Ian Cole (suspended) gone and Zach Bogosian injured. The Rangers ran into a wall in the conference finals last season but have won four straight regular season home games against the Lightning, with Igor Shesterkin posting a 1.30 GAA and 3-0 record against them last season as well.
The time to fade Tampa Bay has traditionally been early in the season the past couple of years and I see no reason that trend stops now. New York went 27-10-4 at home last year and their odds remain more than reasonable considering that trend from last season. The moneyline at -115 is good enough to take (and play down to -120) and the Rangers -1.5 puck line at +210 is in play as well.
Over 3.5 shots +100
The Kings allowed the second-fewest shots on net per game last season but we have some major splits with Eichel that make his over worth taking on tonight. Eichel averaged a healthy 3.94 shots per game with Vegas in 2021-22 but was even more prolific in that department on the road where he averaged 4.42 shots per game in 19 road starts. Eichel is also slated to start the year with Phil Kessel as one of his wingers at five-on-five. Kessel dished out 44 assists last season, and as a veteran, should be looking to set his new center up as much as possible early in the season. With plus money and Eichel’s strong road splits in this category from last season, taking the over on the 3.5 total shots looks promising.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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