The 2021-22 NHL season is in full swing, and I'll be sharing my betting picks every Sunday. Now that we have one full week of data to mine, are there any trends we can use?
Chase (or fade?) my picks at your own risk!
Season record: 2-0
Detroit Red Wings (+135) @ Chicago Blackhawks (-160) — Total: 5.5
Literally nothing has gone right for the Chicago Blackhawks in the early going. They're 0-4-1, only looking competitive in one game this season (a loss 3-4 to the Devils). Their big offseason acquisition, Marc-Andre Fleury, is 0-3 with a preposterous 5.63 GAA and a .840 save percentage. They're currently ranked 31st on offense and 28th on defense. They lost Patrick Kane to the COVID list.
It is not good.
Yet, here the Blackhawks are, relatively big favorites at home against the Wings. Interesting.
The Wings have been the antithesis of the Hawks and one of the more surprising teams of the early going. They own a 2-2-1 record, nearly upsetting the defending champs at home in a wild 6-7 opening night loss before rattling off two straight wins against the Canucks and Blue Jackets.
They've since lost two straight, however, falling to Calgary and Montreal in Canada. Of course, they were without their leading goal-scorer, Tyler Bertuzzi, for those games. Bertuzzi remains unvaccinated and ineligible to play in Canada, but he is expected to meet the Wings and be available on Sunday in Chicago.
Normally, I'd fade a team playing on the second leg of a back-to-back — on a two-game losing streak, no less — especially a team that has to travel down from Canada. It's the smart play.
But I just can't get over the amount of chalk the Hawks are getting here, at 0-4. -160 seems like a lot for a team that is struggling to get anything going. Chicago is starting Kevin Lankinen over Fleury, but the younger Lankinen hasn't fared much better this season, going 0-1 with an .884 save percentage.
I can't pass up the plus money here on Detroit, which will have its best player back on the ice and has just been the overall better team so far.
Chicago will eventually get their first W of the season — I'm just not willing to eat the -160 to be a part of it.
New York Islanders (+110) @ Vegas Golden Knights (-135) — Total: 5.5
For two teams normally known for strong defense, both the Golden Knights and Islanders have really looked loose on the back end in the early going. Both teams have allowed an average of 3 or more goals this season, and both Ilya Sorokin and Robin Lehner have not lived up to their respective goaltending talents so far.
The Knights have been really hurting after the losses of some of their most important players, including Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Alec Martinez, and Alex Tuch (to name a few). They've now lost three straight after falling 5-3 to an Oilers team that looks like a powerhouse in the early going.
On the other side of the ice, this will be the second leg of a back-to-back for the Islanders after an easy 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. And while a trip from Arizona to Vegas isn't something to be worried about, this will be New York's fourth game in their last five games. Exhaustion has to be something to consider at this point.
Give me the more desperate team in this spot. The Knights — a Stanley Cup contender — need this win and you have to expect all the team was discussing during their day off on Saturday was how to stop the skid. Taking advantage of a tired Islanders team is a good spot to stem the tide, and -135 seems reasonable for a Vegas team that always plays hard at home.