Another 18 teams get their season underway tonight and the Canucks and Oilers are already back for the second game in their regular season series!
Find all of our free NHL picks for the 10 scheduled games below!
Washington Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres – 7PM ET
The Capitals and the Sabres are set to get their 2021 seasons underway in an Eastern Conference matchup on Thursday night. Finishing the 2019/20 season on 68 points, the Sabres were one of the four Eastern Conference teams to not make the playoffs, whereas the Capitals finished on top of the Metropolitan Division with 90 points, before being knocked out in Round 1 of the playoffs by the Islanders.
Off the back of their poor 2019/20 season, the Sabres recruited 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner Taylor Hall. However, despite the marquee signing Buffalo have not improved their depth enough to be considered a genuine playoff threat and will likely be dealt a harsh reality check when they face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, who have made the playoffs 12 out of their past 13 seasons, 10 of which also saw them win their division.
NHL Pick – Washington Capitals (-136)
NHL Spread – Washington Capitals -1.5 (+180)
Game Totals Pick – Over 6 (-115)
Taylor Hall is set to make his Sabres debut tomorrow night. 🤩
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 14, 2021
Boston Bruins @ New Jersey Devils – 7PM ET
2019/20’s best regular season team, the Boston Bruins, will travel to New Jersey to take on the Devils in both team season openers. The Bruins and the Devils couldn’t have had more contrasting seasons last year, with Boston recording a league high 100 points to finish at the top of the Atlantic Division, while New Jersey were the only Metropolitan Division team not to make the playoffs, finishing the season on 68 points.
As good as they were, the Bruins were knocked out of the playoffs in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. There is a lot to like about the Devils this season with Jack Hughes (19 years old) and Nico Hischier (22 years old) looking to be dynamic cornerstones to build around for years to come.
However, despite the many changes Boston made this offseason they still have Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak in goals, which will make it tough for the inexperienced Devils to score against the Bruins. Rask and Halak let through a league low 174 goals last season. Boston to win in a low scoring game.
NHL Pick – Boston Bruins (-150)
NHL Spread – New Jersey Devils +1.5 (-200)
Game Totals Pick – Under 5.5 (+105)
New York Islanders @ New York Rangers – 7PM ET
In the battle of New York, the Rangers and Islanders will get their 2021 seasons underway at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night. Only one point separated the Islanders (80 points) and the Rangers (79 points) in the Metropolitan division last season, with both sides scraping into the playoffs.
The Rangers were defeated by the Hurricanes 0-3 in the Qualifying Round, while the Islanders went on a great playoff run before being defeated in Game 6 of the Conference Finals against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
There is a lot to like about the Rangers this season with the addition of No. 1 overall pick drafting Alexis Lafreniere expected to add to their exciting high scoring (234 goals for last season) brand of hockey.
However, the Islanders were just two wins away from a trip to the Stanley Cup finals and possess the necessary defensive weapons to negate the Rangers exciting style of play, having only allowed 193 goals last season.
NHL Pick – New York Islanders (-110)
NHL Spread – New York Rangers +1.5 (-285)
Game Totals Pick – Under 6 (+100)
Carolina Hurricanes @ Detroit Red Wings – 7.30PM ET
The Carolina Hurricanes will venture to Detroit to face the Red Wings in both teams’ season opener. The 2019/20 season was one to forget for Detroit, finishing the regular season with a league low 39 points, the next fewest points was 62.
The Hurricanes however finished fourth in the Metropolitan Division with 81 points, before their season was ended in Round 1 of the playoffs, going down 4-1 to the Boston Bruins.
The 2021 season will certainly be another rebuilding year for Red Wings (currently +20000 to win the Stanley Cup, the longest odds in the NFL) and it will likely get off to a rough start when they face a Hurricanes team ready to contend for a Stanley Cup.
Even with the game being played in Detroit, the offensive trio of Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen will be too much for the Redwings to handle, and Hurricane’s No. 1 defenseman Dougie Hamilton will make it tough for Detroit to score.
NHL Pick – Carolina Hurricanes (-255)
NHL Spread – Carolina Hurricanes -1.5 (+140)
Game Totals Pick – Under 6.5 (-115)
In an East vs West matchup the Nashville Predators will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday Night. Both the Predators and the Blue Jackets clinched playoff positions last season with Columbus finishing fifth in the Metropolitan Division on 81 points, while the Predators finished fifth in the Central Division on 78 points.
Nashville suffered a 4-1 loss to the Coyotes in the Qualifying Round whereas Columbus came up against Tampa Bay in Round 1 and were defeated 4-1. Not much separates the two teams on paper with the predators recording a goal differential of -2 last season, while the Blue Jackets recording a -7.
There is no doubt that Nashville are more dangerous offensively (215 goals for vs 180), however Columbus possess a much tougher defense (187 goals allowed vs 217). Both sides have been inconsistent throughout the past three seasons making this season opener an enticing matchup. We like the Blue Jackets to upset Nashville at home, in a gritty defensive performance.
NHL Pick – Columbus Blue Jackets (+105)
NHL Spread – Columbus Blue Jackets +1.5 (-265)
Game Totals Pick – Under 5.5 (-121)
Calgary Flames @ Winnipeg Jets – 8PM ET
The Winnipeg Jets will host the Calgary Flames in a Western Conference matchup on Thursday Night. The Jets finished fourth in the Central Division after an 80 points last season, while the Flames were just one point behind them, finishing third in the Pacific Divisions.
Thursday’s matchup will be a rematch of last year’s Qualifying Round where the Flames came out victorious 3-1. Calgary were soon eliminated by the Stars in Round 1 of the playoffs, however the Jets will be looking for redemption in their 2021 season opener.
Winnipeg relied heavily on goaltender and 2020 Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck for their success last season and will need Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers to increase their output on offense if the Jets are going to return to the playoffs.
After earning the best record in the Western Conference in 2018/19, the Flames had an off year in 2019/20. Whether they bounce back or not will be determined by the Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan offensive performance and newly signed Jacob Markstrom performance in goal.
Despite the game being in Jets territory, Calgary should get it done against Winnipeg, resetting back to their 2018/19 form after a COVID-19 affected 2019/20 season… that still finished with them beating the Jets in the Qualifying Round.
NHL Pick – Calgary Flames (-110)
NHL Spread – Calgary Flames +1.5 (-281)
Game Totals Pick – Over 5.5 (-110)
Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers – 9PM ET
The Canucks and the Oilers will meet in a back to back for the second game of their regular season series on Thursday night. In what was a tight hustle all night, a 3-2 final period in favour of the Canucks resulted in a 5-3 victory away from home for Vancouver.
Brock Boeser (two goals), Bo Horvat (one goal, one assist), Quinn Hughes (two assists) and Tanner Pearson (two assists) led the way for the Canucks, who got their season off to a perfect 1-0 start.
Despite the loss Edmonton showed a lot of fight in their opening night matchup and will get an immediate chance at redemption on Thursday night at home. There is no doubt that Edmonton is a quality outfit, finishing five points and two places above Vancouver in last year’s Pacific Division and should bounce back in their second straight game against Vancouver at home, leaving both sides at 1-1 after the second game in their regular season series.
NHL Pick – Edmonton Oilers (-131)
NHL Spread – Vancouver Canucks +1.5 (-240)
Game Totals Pick – Under 6 (+115)
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 14, 2021
San Jose Sharks @ Arizona Coyotes – 9PM ET
The San Jose Sharks are on their way to Arizona to open up their season against the Coyotes on Thursday night in a Pacific Division battle. The Sharks finished at the bottom of their division last season with just 63 points, while the Coyotes scraped into the playoffs finishing fifth in the Pacific division with 74 points.
Arizona were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Colorado Avalanche (4-1). Having been an uncompetitive fringe playoff team for the past few seasons, many believe that San Jose are at a crossroads and this year will be when they finally rebuild.
The Sharks still have top end talent in Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Evander Kane, Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. However, their big acquisition signing of relief goaltender Devan Dubnyk is not the move that is going to propel them up the Pacific Division.
Arizona’s offense, who only scored 195 goals last season, did take a hit throughout the offseason losing their best player and 2018 Hart Memorial Trophy winner Taylor Hall.
However, their defense (who only allowed 187 goals last season) will still be held up by Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta rotating in and out of goals. Neither the Sharks nor the Coyotes are poised for a title contending season, however Arizona’s stout defense should secure them the victory.
NHL Pick – Arizona Coyotes (-125)
NHL Spread – San Jose Sharks +1.5 (-245)
Game Totals Pick – Under 5.5 (-121)
Anaheim Ducks @ Vegas Golden Knights – 10PM ET
The Vegas Golden Knights will host the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night in a Pacific Division matchup. The Ducks missed a playoff berth finishing seven points behind the Coyotes in their division, contrastingly the Golden Knights went to the Conference Finals before they were defeated 4-1 by the Dallas Stars.
After acquiring Alex Pietrangelo in the offseason, many experts and bookies have Vegas amongst the favourites to win the 2021 Stanley Cup (+675 on Pointsbet). Pietrangelo will be joined by 2019/20 breakout star Shea Theodore in defense for the Golden Knights, as the pair look to turn an already impressive 211 goals against Vegas defense into an even more formidable defense for opposition offenses to worry about.
Given the strength of their division, it would not be absurd if the Ducks were to make the playoffs. However, a matchup against a Stanley Cup contender at home will be too much for Anaheim in their season opener.
NHL Pick – Vegas Golden Knights (-216)
NHL Spread – Vegas Golden Knights -1.5 (+120)
Game Totals Pick – Under 6 (-115)
Minnesota Wild @ Los Angeles Kings – 10PM ET
Minnesota will face Los Angeles in a Western Conference battle on Thursday night, which will get both teams seasons underway. The Wild finished second to last in the Central Division last season but still earned a playoff berth with 77 points.
The Kings were not so lucky, finishing second to last in the Pacific Division with just 64 points. Minnesota did not make it out of the Qualifying Round after being eliminated by the Canucks.
Unfortunately for the King they did not sign any big names this offseason that will propel them back into Stanley Cup contention, especially coming off a season that saw them flaunt the second worst offense in the league (178 goals for).
Not dissimilar to the Kings, the Wild are in the hunt for one of the bottom four playoff positions in the West. However, Minnesota has significantly better stats than Los Angeles, allowing in only 8 more goals defensively while also scoring 42 more goals last season.
Thursday’s game may be in Kings territory however, it is as simple as the Wild having the superior roster that will get Minnesota’s season off to a strong start with a road win against a Western rival.
NHL Pick – Minnesota Wild (-121)
NHL Spread – Minnesota Wild -1.5 (+220)
Game Totals Pick – Over 5.5 (+100)
The 2021 NHL season is here! If you want to catch up with all the latest information, make sure you visit our NHL hub page.
*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of PointsBet.