After a long, long wait, the NHL is finally back, and we don’t have to wait too long to see the newest NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, in action either! There are only two games to kick off the season, with the Pittsburgh Penguins playing last year’s winner, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Seattle Kraken playing their first ever game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
What will this season bring? Will the Lightning strike again, or will another team step up to the plate and win the Stanley Cup? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain, we are in for a fantastic season! So gear up, sit back, relax and watch. And if you like to have a bet, then you have certainly come to the right place.
Look below to find our free NHL picks for the two games on today’s schedule!
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 7.30PM EDT
It is the first game of the NHL season, and the Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. The Lightning will be looking to follow on from where they left off last season. The Lightning finished last season with a record of 36-17-3, and the Penguins finished last season with a record of 37-16-3.
The opening game for 2021/2022 NHL season promises not only to be exciting, but also to give us some insights on how the pre-season training has been for two of the biggest contenders for the Stanley Cup this year. Tampa Bay Lightning, the current champions and back-to-back winners, are hoping to continue writing history while the Pittsburgh Penguins will be looking to make a solid start that will secure them a spot in the Playoffs.
The injury list from both sides doesn’t really seem that long, but there are some notable players who need to be mentioned. Callan Foote, Marian Gaborik, and Brent Seabrook will be missing for the Lightning, while the Penguins will have to find a way to deal with their opponents without their leader and captain, Sidney Crosby. The 34-year-old Canadian is suffering from a wrist injury and is expected to be out for the first couple of games. Jake Guentzel, Zach Aston-Reese, and Evgeni Malkin are also expected to miss the upcoming opening match.
The list of injuries of some hockey players from the main roster is telling me that the match will be more open and both teams will be focusing more on the offensive side. Moreover, these two teams particularly are one of the top-scoring teams in the NHL for the last couple of seasons. Although Tampa Bay seems to have a slight advantage before the game, since it’s the opening match of the season, I will restrain myself from giving a moneyline pick and I will choose entertaining over boredom – hence, over 6 goals.
Denis’ NHL Pick: Over 6 (-112)
Fans in Tampa Bay are hoping lightning strikes thrice, while fans in Pittsburgh are hoping for a return to former glory. This is a battle of two teams who have won 4 out of the last 6 Stanley Cups. Pittsburgh repeated in 2016 and 2017 while Tampa did it in 2020 and 2021. They are the last two teams that have gone back to back since the Detroit Red Wings in the late 1990s. Both teams are also coming off identical records last season, but the betting trend leans towards the home side. Tampa is unbeaten in their last 6 home games and 5-1 in the last 6 vs Pittsburgh.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) October 11, 2021
While the logical choice would be the Lightning moneyline, the spread seems like a better pick. The reasoning for that is because Sidney Crosby will not be in the lineup for the Penguins. Betting in the early days of the season can always be tough but this game would be my lock for the night. An aging Pittsburgh squad without their superstar vs the two time defending champions. Especially on the road in one of the hardest venues in the National Hockey League. For the reasons listed above my pick is Tampa with the spread, for a better winning value.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (+128)
The Tampa Bay Lightning are looking to become the first NHL team to three-peat since the New York Islanders pulled off what eventually became a four-peat between 1979-1980 & 1982-1983. For the season opener, the back to back defending champs face off against the last franchise to win consecutive cups in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Since their 2016-2017 championship run, the Pens just haven’t been able to find that same magic. This is due in large part to father time keeping his tabs on both captain Sidney Crosby (34) and alternate captain Evengi Malkin (35), who’ve had to battle their share of injuries. Unfortunately those continue to persist as both Crosby and Malkin start off the season injured. To make matters worse, forwards Zach Aston Reese and Jake Guenztel are also both expected out for the opener.
Tampa Bay on the other hand still has its star power across the lines: former Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov continues to strike fear up top, 2018 Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman commands the blue line, and goalie/ 2018 Vezina Trophy winner/ defending Conn Smythe winner Andrei Vasilevskiy protects the net.
Tampa’s biggest concern is probably with their depth, which has been such an x-factor for them in the past (they lost Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Yanni Gourde in the offseason). That being said, they also made some key signings that included former Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry and Pierre-Eduard Bellemaire— two vets who want to show they can still skate with the best.
With Pittsburgh’s plethora of injuries, there’s a few ways you could go. But I like Tampa Bay to continue another season of domination at home against a battered Pittsburgh squad. So I’m betting early in favor of Tampa with the spread.
Seattle Kraken @ Vegas Golden Knights – 10.00PM EDT
It’s the second game of the NHL season, and we don’t have to wait too long to see the newest NHL team in action. The Seattle Kraken head on over to Vegas when they take on the Golden Knights. It will be interesting to see how the Kraken go in their first ever game, but will certainly be facing stiff competition from the Golden Knights, who finished last season with a record of 40-14-2.
The most recently founded teams are facing one another in the opening matchday for the 2021/2022 NHL season. Vegas Golden Knights will welcome in its T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas the newcomer to NHL this year, Seattle Kraken. Golden Knights have been doing miracles since they joined the National League in 2017. In their first year they managed to reach the Stanley Cup finals, only to be demolished by Washington Capitals, 4-1. On the other hand, Seattle Kraken was established this year and they managed to build a team quickly through acquiring many hockey players from the NHL. Both teams will definitely be looking to reach the Playoffs this year and this goal will be achieved after victories in such important games.
Mattias Janmark, Brett Howden, Nicolas Roy, and Jake Bischoff are expected to miss the game against the Kraken. Moreover, William Carrier and Shea Theodore are questionable as their condition is monitored and is changing on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, some of the most experienced hockey players in Seattle’s squad are not certain whether they will take part in the match. These are Jared McCann, Jamie Oleksiak, Marcus Johansson, and Yanni Gourde. However, the 38-year-old veteran and captain of the Kraken, Mark Giordano, knows really well how to lead a newly-established team and he will make sure that their first game in the NHL will be remembered for a long time.
The decision here is tough, but I will go for the “upset” pick. I think that Krakens have the ability to outplay some of the best teams in the league. In their pre-season, they won 4 of their 6 matches which is a pretty good indication for a team of their caliber. Golden Knights are sometimes underestimating their opponents and I hope today will be no different. My pick here will be a more defensive one as I will choose Seattle Kraken +1.5 (-113). However, the moneyline for Seattle Kraken also seems pretty tempting (+190).
Denis’ NHL Pick: Seattle Kraken +1.5 (-113)
A battle between the NHLs two most recent expansion franchises on opening night, it can’t get much better than this. Out of both games tonight this one will be the better watch if you ask me. Vegas have experienced great success in their first couple seasons and Seattle fans are hoping for the same for their team. Seattle is a squad made up of players who went from contributors to focal points after moving to the Kraken. Much like Vegas they should be more competitive than people think.
We’re here. pic.twitter.com/yQCbHhcSKD
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) October 12, 2021
As for the game I think they will need some time to settle down. Going with Vegas seems like the obvious choice here but I firmly believe this will be a low scoring game that’s why you should bet the under. In fact the under is 7-1 in the last 8 Golden Knights games vs fellow Western Conference opponents. While Seattle may be a safe bet in future weeks and games for now it’s safer to steer away. Especially when travelling to the sports betting center of the world to play in front of a great crowd.
Tony’s NHL Pick: Under 5.5 (-138)
The Seattle Kraken make their National Hockey League debut against the previous expansion squad the Vegas Golden Knights, as the NHL’s 31st and 32nd franchises open the season at T-Mobile Arena in “Sin City.” In the 2017-2018 season, Vegas set the bar high for future newcomers, becoming the first expansion team to make the Stanley Cup Finals (eventually losing to the Washington Capitals in five) since the St. Louis Blues in the 1967-1968 season. They’ll be in no mood to see Seattle have similar success.
The Kraken write their first page of history with some major question marks. Aside from the team’s proven (projected) first line wingers Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz, the team is depending on a lot of offensive firepower from guys who have the potential, but haven’t quite gotten the chance to show it off yet. One of those guys is former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde, who unfortunately starts the season on injured reserve.
If losing Gourde wasn’t enough of a hit, it was also just announced that multiple players for Seattle were in COVID protocol and would be game-time decisions. This includes Top-6 guys like Jarde McCann and Joonas Doonski as well as defender Jamie Oleksiak, who many figured would team with captain Mark Girodiano as the top pairing on the blue line. If Seattle wanted to start with the same bang as the 2017-18 Golden Knights, this was certainly not in the plans.
Meanwhile, Vegas continues to look like a top squad across the board. They might have lost defending Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury in a bit of a messy trade with the Chicago Blackhawks (Fleury contemplated retirement), but they are more than pleased to have former Vezina runner-up, Robin Lehner in front of the net.
Vegas has consistently been great across the board and this season it looks no difference as Captain Mark Stone is coming off 61 points in 55 games and 2020 All-Star Max Pacioretty is coming off 51 points in 48 games. If healthy, the Knights will be a force to reckon with and they’ll make a statement early — which means the new guys from the Pacific Northwest will be their first victims.
If Seattle was at full-strength I’d be tempted to pick them to cover. But with so many unknowns and under 24 hours to play, I have to go with the safe bet and take that Vegas spread.
If you need more news, information and predictions, head over to our NHL hub page for all your ice hockey needs!
*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.