There are nine games on the slate in the NHL Thursday. Four games have puck totals of 6.5 or bigger, with Toronto vs. Washington currently sporting a 7.0 puck total on the DraftKings Sportsbook. The lowest puck total is the Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators, which features a 5.5 total — the only puck total on the slate under 6.0 goals.
The Flyers are going to have a tough time winning more than a handful of games early on with top center Sean Couturier out for multiple weeks. It gets worse for them, though, as they’ve already lost Ryan Ellis for the season, and now winger Cam Atkinson is expected to be out opening night, as well.
Neither side’s goaltending projects as anything special, but the Devils should find more stability with the addition of Vitek Vanecek, who is expected to start in this spot. The home teams in this series won each matchup last year, but New Jersey’s offseason acquisitions of Ondrej Palat and Erik Haula should give them the ability to roll three solid scoring lines.
New Jersey has the better top-end talent at each position and is going up against one of the few teams who don’t have a stronger goaltender. The Devils’ lack of success in recent years is likely keeping these odds reasonable for opening night. Jumping on New Jersey makes sense for their season opener against what figures to be one of the worst teams in the league this year in the Flyers.
Much like the Devils, the Senators are a team we should consider jumping on early in the season against weaker teams while their odds are still reasonable. Ottawa added some major goal-scoring upside in Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, who will give the Senators two legit scoring lines and should boost their upside at five-on-five. Ottawa’s special teams should also see a boost this season, and they’ll be taking on a Sabres squad that was just 20th in penalty-kill percentage last season.
The Senators may also carry an edge in net with the underrated Anton Forsberg set to start. Forsberg had a solid second half for Ottawa and finished the year eighth in save percentage at .917. He was also far better on the road in 2021-22, posting a .924 save percentage in 24 road starts. The odds aren’t giving Ottawa much of an edge, but the talent gap between these teams widened significantly in the offseason. Play the Senators down to -125 if the line moves.
We’ll stick with this Buffalo-Ottawa game for our props, as well. Tuch averaged 2.73 shots on net in 23 home games last season with the Sabres. The winger averaged well over 18 minutes per game, and that number is unlikely to fall this season given he’s entrenched in the top six for Buffalo. The Senators’ improved forward ranks should be a boon for their offense, but they still allowed the sixth-most shots against last season, and that number may not change much in 2022-23, as their defense still figures to be the teams biggest liability. The +110 on offer here is worth going over on, given we have Tuch in a home matchup against a team allows a ton of shots through like Ottawa.
Senators -1.5, Alex DeBrincat over 0.5 goals, Senators over 3.5 goals +475
The Senators have a lot of appeal for parlays, as they have a much deeper top six that should be capable of big nights against weaker opponents. Buffalo had just a 17-18-6 home record last season and lost their only home game vs. Ottawa 3-1. Playing the Senators puck line gives us a nice boost to start off with.
For player props, adding DeBrincat for a goal in this spot is more than reasonable. He was on pace for over 50 goals in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and projects as the team’s leading goal scorer this season. The 3.5 goal total on Ottawa also makes sense to add for a final boost, given we’re taking a Senator goal prop and backing them to cover the puck line. Play for the big Ottawa victory by taking them to cover the puck line, and team total, while banking on a hot start from their best goal scorer, as well.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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