NHL: Best Season Openers
When the calendar turns to October that means one thing, the return of the NHL. The schedule makers at the NHL have given us some gems to start the season, including some big rivalry games, playoff rematches and some clashes between Canadian clubs. We cover the best games and teams to bet on the moneyline in the opening week of the 2018-19 NHL season.
Best NHL Season Openers
- 01Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
- 02Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals
- 03Philadelphia Flyers vs. Vegas Golden Knights
- 04Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues
Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
For the 11th time since 1999, the Toronto Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens for their first game of the season. The Leafs have the edge over the previous ten meetings in the season opener, owning a 6-3-1 record against their hated rival.
The Leafs have a good shot at improving their opening season record against the Canadiens. The Maple Leafs enter the season coming off a franchise record (29) home wins, with two of those wins coming off the Montreal Canadiens. The Leafs were 4-0 against Montreal last season, and with their vastly superior offence, they should continue to outclass the Canadiens this season.
Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs (-220)
Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals
The reigning Stanley Cup champions will open their season on Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins. While all the excitement of the banner unveiling in Washington is sure to pump up the crowd, Stanley Cup champions often fall short in their first game of the season.
Only one of the last four Stanley Cup champions opened their following season with a win (Pittsburgh Penguins over the Capitals in 2016).
Otherwise, everyone else lost. The Washington Capitals look like a prime candidate for a championship hangover. While, the Capitals are still a good team overall, a bit of down year, which should start against the Boston Bruins – who enter the season third in odds to win the Eastern Conference.
Pick: Boston Bruins +115
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Vegas Golden Knights
A sneaky good matchup headlines Thursday’s games, as the Western Conference champions open their season against the Philadelphia Flyers, a dark horse Stanley Cup contender. The Vegas Golden Knights dominated at home early in the season last year, but have a tough test early against the Flyers, who netted the third most points on the road of any Eastern Conference team.
The Knights have an excellent chance to start their season off strong against the Flyers. The Flyers starting goaltender, Brian Elliott, has been mostly M.I.A in the preseason due to injuries. While he is expected back for the start of the season, it'll be hard to shake off the rust in front of a raucous Vegas crowd. Look for the Golden Knight to grab their first win of the season.
Pick: Vegas Golden Knights (-170)
Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues
The other Canadian team with serious Stanley Cup aspirations, the Winnipeg Jets, open their season on the road against the St. Louis Blues. The two division rivalries split their four meetings last season, with each team winning once by a shutout in St. Louis.
The Jets are as good if not better this season, while the Blues are poised for their lowest point total in a full season since 2011. The Blues offence is their biggest weakness, as the Blues scored the least goals in the Central Division last season. The Jets were second in the NHL last season with 277 goals. While these two teams will each beat each other this season, take the Jets to open their season with a win on the road.
Pick: Winnipeg Jets -110