Expert NHL best bets and predictions for Saturday, October 21

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NHL best bets and expert picks

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It’s been a winning week, and it feels great to be back in the green with an entire Saturday of NHL hockey on the horizon. There are 15 games today. 15 GAMES! And we’ve got some incredible matchups to look forward to. 

We’ve got some playoff rematches, a battle between some up-and-comers in the East, Connor Bedard’s first game at the United Center, and the undefeated Boston Bruins in Hollywood looking to extend their win streak to four. 

It will be a GREAT day of hockey, so strap in and see what my best bets are for today. 

Detroit Red Wings at Ottawa Senators (-155, 6.5)

The Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators are two teams that most people couldn’t wait to watch this season. Both organizations are looking to make huge leaps in the right direction with the young talent they have. 

These teams were expected to compete, but I don’t think anyone could have guessed they would be tied for first as the best offensive team in the NHL this early. The Red Wings and Senators are both averaging 4.75 goals scored per game, which has them tied with the Los Angeles Kings, but what’s been most impressive is their man-advantage units. 

Detroit has the NHL’s best power play, scoring at a 46.2% rate, while the Senators currently sit 10th, converting 25%.

For Detroit, Alex DeBrincat, their newest acquisition, is leading the way with eight points (five goals, three assists), second in the entire league. He and Dylan Larkin have been clicking very early, as Larkin has six points himself (one goal, five assists). 

Ottawa is getting production from everyone, and I mean everyone. Tim Stutzle and Vladimir Tarasenko are tied for the most points, but Brady Tkachuk, Jake Sanderson, and Claude Giroux haven’t been lacking at all. 

Both teams have some firepower offenses, and while the goaltending is solid, the scoring is all the much better. I think we’ll see a lot of goals in this afternoon’s matinee to kick off the 15 games. 

Bet: Over 6.5 -135 (play to -150)

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning (+114, 7)

This is certainly a get-right game for the Toronto Maple Leafs as they have dropped their last two games in a row, but it won’t be easy for them as they head into Tampa for a rematch with the Lightning from last year’s first-round playoff series. 

Auston Matthews has been held pointless in his last two games after starting the season with back-to-back hat tricks. Matthews is due for one tonight, but the Leafs as a whole have only scored two goals in their last two games. With that said, Toronto is one of the best offensive groups in the NHL, averaging 3.50 goals per game and skating to the third-best power play percentage at 33.3%. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning have looked a little shaky out of the gate. Despite winning their most recent game, the Bolts have a massive issue keeping pucks out of their net. They are sitting towards the bottom of the league, allowing 4.00 goals against per contest and 10.49 high-danger chances against per 60 minutes. 

Tampa’s biggest issue right now is in net, as they will most likely look to Jonas Johansson tonight, who is 2-1-1 on the season, which looks good, but he has a .894 save percentage and a 3.53 goals against average. 

Toronto’s core four should be able to produce on Johansson, and the four I’m referring to are Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares. The Leafs offense should be able to take this game over. 

The Leafs are 4-0 in their last four trips to Amalie Arena, and I think they will win in Tampa again tonight, 

Bet: Toronto Maple Leafs ML -135 (play to 155)

Vegas Golden Knights at Chicago Blackhawks (+190, 6)

Just because tonight is Connor Bedard’s first home game in the NHL doesn’t mean my attention will be on him. In fact, he is creating a massive distraction that has allowed other players to have great value in their shots on goal prop. 

The player I’m looking at in this game is Jack Eichel, who is currently leading the NHL in shots on goal with 28 in five games. The Vegas Golden Knights have looked like the best team in the league thus far, as they are 5-0-0, but more importantly, they look strong offensively. 

Despite being 2-3-0, the Chicago Blackhawks have been getting absolutely peppered in shots against, giving up the second most shots on goal against per game in the league, allowing 37.4 each night. 

Eichel will feast on the Blackhawks’ blue liners tonight after having only three shots in his most recent game. There will be a ton of buzz around Bedard tonight, but Eichel is the player to watch in this game. He’s been absolutely incredible in the early goings of this season. 

Bet: Jack Eichel over 3.5 shots on goal -105 (play to -125)

Boston Bruins at Los Angeles Kings (-112, 6)

The Los Angeles Kings are starting to heat up after dropping their first two games of the season. They’ve won their previous two games, outscoring their opponents 12-4. 

This game isn’t as much about the Kings as it is about the Bruins. If you look at Boston’s record, it looks like an impressive 3-0, but to be fair, they have played some pretty weak opponents, and their offense hasn’t been lights out. The Bruins have scored nine goals in those three games but have only given up four. 

As strong as Boston’s defense is, tonight will be its biggest challenge. The Kings have been one of the best offensive teams in the early going, averaging 4.75 goals per game while having the league’s fifth-best expected goals percentage at 5-on-5, which is 57.30%.

Los Angeles has a ton of depth, making it difficult for Boston at 5-on-5, and there is a strong chance that the Bruins will start Jeremy Swayman instead of Linus Ullmark. 

The Bruins have the best goaltending tandem in the NHL, but this group hasn’t been truly tested yet, in my opinion. With the Kings losing their first two games at home, I think they are due for a win at Crypto.com Arena. 

I think Los Angeles will hand the Bruins their first loss of the season.

Bet: Los Angeles Kings ML -112 (play to -130) 

 

2023-24 record: 15-14-0 (+1.78 units)