NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions
VegasInsider.com NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for two NHL games on Wednesday Jan. 13, 2021.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Money-Line Odds: Montreal +118; Toronto -136
Total (Over-Under): 6.5
Score Prediction: Toronto 4 Montreal 2
Best Bet: Toronto ML
Thanks to the unique bubble format of expanded playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens had their season extended and found some success with their second chance.
As the #12 seed they got by a #5 Pittsburgh team that kind of got hosed in the format and played like they had no interest in making it a long stay inside the bubble. That's not to take anything away from what Montreal did in taking full advantage of their opportunity, but after a couple of beneficial additions in the offseason, it feels like the market is pushing a bit too much on the Canadiens from the start.
The Habs have the second best odds to win the North Division (+400) behind Toronto (+125), meaning there is a nice combination of talent on the ice and respect in the market, but I'm not sure we don't see Montreal play themselves into that role as the weeks go on.
Teams in every sport that add multiple new faces that are expected to be heavy contributors can struggle early on, and even knowing Toronto will be the public side, you know what you're getting with the Leafs.
Toronto's got the offensive talent that's never really out of a game, let alone Game 1 of the year where any notions of “slumping” or “on fire” just don't exist. I'm not sure we get Toronto this cheap in this matchup later on in the year if those +125 and +400 division prices hold true to form either.
It's still Opening Night, and the comfortable route with a known commodity, even in a public role, is sensible enough even if it's just for a baseline to base thoughts upon for Game 2. Win or lose.
St. Louis Blues vs Colorado Avalanche
Money-Line Odds: St. Louis +125; Colorado -148
Total (Over-Under): 5.5
Score Prediction: St. Louis 3 Colorado 2
Best Bet: Blues ML
Colorado enters this shortened season as the favorite to lift the Stanley Cup in the summer, and barring any serious injury issues, Colorado should be in the conversation come the summer. But if the concern with Montreal is playing themselves into their potential, Colorado's concern could be with turning the switch on and off at times.
Colorado knows how good they are, and know that they'll get their fair share of wins this season just by showing up. The market won't be bashful about their Colorado support this year on all shapes and forms, and the contrarian in me would prefer to fade that type of support when we are all guessing the most.
The price is probably right in the end, but it will get more expensive on the Avalanche before it doesn't in all likelihood, but I'll still take the Blues here.
St. Louis was the first team that had to try and defend a Stanley Cup title in the middle of a pandemic since the 1918-19 Toronto Arenas were tasked with that challenge.
Toronto finished with a 5-13 record that for a year that was split into two halves, good enough for last place in a three-team NHL. That was never going to be a good omen for the Blues, and they were the only team that played in the West round robin that got bounced in their playoff series.
With all that's gone on in the world that Blues cup victory feels like forever ago, but this is still basically the same team that went on that run, and the additions of Torey Krug and Mike Hoffman could have some huge returns if everything breaks right.
The Blues had also won six straight against this up-and-coming Avalanche team before this current three-game losing streak against Colorado, and one of those was during the round robin in the bubble. Those games are forgivable for all eight teams involved, and if there ever is a decent time to fade season-long favorites it would be early in the year – when perspective is high and they've yet to hit stride – or late in the year when they are coasting towards a top playoff seed.
Again, early in the season so no need to go wild, but would something like a 5-5 SU start out of Colorado surprise you before they rip off 10 of 14 or something like that?
The Blues are one of the better candidates to be the reason for a loss or two in that type of record (Colorado has LA, Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota up next), and the heater for the team that's anointed the “next one” isn't always on right out of the gate.
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