Expert NHL best bets and predictions for Tuesday, October 10

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NHL best bets and expert picks

The puck is set to drop for the 2023-24 season as we have three games on deck with some fun storylines that include Connor Bedard’s first NHL game as he faces off against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as a banner-raising ceremony in Las Vegas, where the Golden Knights will celebrate their 2023 Stanley Cup Championship. Before we get to those two games, we’ll get to see what the Tampa Bay Lightning will look like without their star net-minder, Andrei Vasilevskiy. 

 

Before getting into today’s card, I should introduce myself and talk a little bit about my handicapping style. My name is Jonny Lazarus and I’ve been handicapping and betting on hockey for about 9 years. I wrote about 1st Period betting strategies (which is my favorite kind of hockey bet) and you will find a lot of those bets from me this season, along with different player props and even traditional moneyline and total wagers. 

In addition to my handicapping experience, I played Division I hockey at UMass-Amherst and Mercyhurst University, so my view on the game is different and some of my handicapping is rooted in my experience as a player in terms of getting into the mindset of rest, travel, and how to break down an opponent. You can find this article five days per week throughout the season (Tues-Sat) right here at VSiN and I’ll be doing weekly videos on X (@JLazzy23) as well.

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Nashville Predators at Tampa Bay Lightning (-155, 6.5)

It’s been a dramatic few weeks for the Tampa Bay Lightning after captain Steven Stamkos voiced his frustrations about the lack of contract negotiations, which was followed up by the announcement that their starting netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy, will be missing 8-10 weeks to recover from surgery. Goaltending has never been a weakness for the Bolts, but with Vasilevskiy out, the crease will be the biggest concern for this group.

The Predators’ biggest strength heading into this season is goaltending. Juuse Saros has been one of the league’s best goalies for quite some time now and actually finished fourth in the Vezina Trophy voting last season. Saros boasted a .919 save percentage along with the NHL’s best +46.7 goals saved above expected. As strong as their goaltending might be, I’m not quite sold on their offensive production. The Predators finished the 2022-23 season as the fifth-worst offensive team in the league, only tallying 2.72 goals per game. They didn’t make any moves this offseason to bolster the forward group, so I don’t imagine them lighting up the scoresheet on opening night. 

Bolts head coach Jon Cooper has confirmed that Jonas Johansson will get the nod to start the season for Tampa. Johansson doesn’t have a ton of NHL experience, but he impressed Cooper enough to earn this opportunity. 

The Lightning are certainly the much better team on paper, but they’re going to have to work extra hard to get pucks by Saros. The Predators’ offense isn’t very threatening, and despite Johansson’s lack of experience, he has a strong group of blueliners protecting him. I think this game leans toward being a little low-scoring, and Johansson has a great chance to prove himself. 

Bet: Predators/Lighting Under 6.5 -118 (play to -130)

Chicago Blackhawks at Pittsburgh Penguins (-250, 6.5)

The Connor Bedard “Welcome to the NHL tour” is set to begin as the Blackhawks head into Pittsburgh for a march with the Penguins. This will be the first of five straight road games for Chicago, but all eyes will be glued to the television to watch Bedard take on Crosby. 

There has been a ton of pressure on the 18-year-old No. 1 overall draft pick this past summer, but everything we’ve seen in the preseason thus far lives up to the hype. In his first game of the preseason, he tallied five shots on goal; he followed that performance up by adding four shots on goal in his second game, then another five shots on goal in his third game, but only put up two in his previous outing. With all that said, Bedard will be very anxious to get pucks on the net in his first career NHL game and what he is well known for is his unbelievable release on his wrist shot. 

Last season, the Penguins allowed 32.8 shots against per game, which was the 8th worst in the entire NHL. This tells me that Bedard won’t have the most difficult time getting pucks on Tristan Jarry of the Penguins. 

Bedard led the entire Western Hockey League (WHL) in shots on goal last season with 360 and he is going to send a message to the entire league in his debut. He’s arrived and soon enough, NHL goalies will fear that wicked wrist shot. 

The Penguins are not all that strong in their own end, so Bedard should get some good looks. I can’t wait to see what this kid does in his first game. 

Bet: Connor Bedard Over 2.5 Shots On Goal -175 (play to -185)

Seattle Kraken at Vegas Golden Knights (-170, 6.5)

The Seattle Kraken were probably the biggest surprise team of last year’s NHL season. After skating to only 60 points in their inaugural season in 2021-22, the Kraken followed that performance with a 100-point effort in the 2022-23 campaign. As strong as they were last year, it’s asking a lot to go into T-Mobile Arena and play spoiler on the Vegas Golden Knights banner ceremony. That place is going to be bumping.

The Golden Knights are essentially running it back with the same group that they had in the spring. Vegas took three out of the four meetings between these two teams last season and they have won seven out of the last eight overall. 

The Kraken had some breakout players last season like Jared McCann who tallied 40 goals and Matty Beniers who took home the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, but top-to-bottom, this team doesn’t stack up very well against the Golden Knights, especially on the road. 

This goaltending battle is certainly going to make for an interesting storyline. Phillipp Grubauer will get the nod for the Kraken while defending Stanley Cup champion, Adin Hill, has earned his role as the Golden Knights’ go-to guy. Grubauer had a relatively underwhelming regular season last year as he skated to a .895 save percentage along with a 2.85 goals against average and a -0.7 goals saved above expected. Hill put up much stronger numbers as he boasted a .915 save percentage and a 2.50 goals against average. 

Vegas has the goaltending edge in this battle and they have many more offensive weapons in Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, Ivan Barbashev and overall, a much deeper team. I don’t see this Golden Knights team having much of a Stanley cup hangover and they should take it to Seattle early and often to kick off their year defending the title. 

Bet: Vegas Golden Knights to win in regulation -105 (play to -120)

2023-24 record: 0-0-0 (0.00 units)