Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings
Starting off the season with games on back to back nights isn't ideal unless you end up winning them both, and Boston can do just that after edging by Philadelphia yesterday. It was a typical ground out victory powered by a strong defensive effort and settled by Chris Kelly inside the final two minutes of regulation.
The Bruins also have their 4-1 playoff victory over Detroit in May to give them confidence, throughout that five game series Tuukka Rask only allowed six goals which goes to show the extent of their dominance. Bad luck with injuries meant we rarely saw the Red Wings at full strength for the majority of 2013/14 and their campaign begins this time around with five guys on the treatment table including Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar.
Great spirit and Mike Babcock's superb coaching got them into the playoffs and may well do again but as many of their young players are still developing I'm not sure this is their time. Simply put Boston are the better team and the fact they start slightly behind in the odds at 2.55 makes them worth taking.
Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars
The Central Division might just be the most competitive in the NHL on paper at least and these two teams should be part of those battling it out for the top ranks.
Dallas have made some big additions up front with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky major spends as they try to elevate themselves beyond their first round exit last season. It's unsurprising that the Blackhawks start as favourites to win outright with the Cup pedigree on their roster and consistent performance at the high end of the league, as to me no team is better balanced throughout their lineup. Depth at center has sometimes troubled them however and this could be a big test for Brad Richards in his new role with the team if he finds himself matched up against the Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn top line or Spezza's new second unit.
If Dallas are to join the elite their defence will need to up its game, Alex Goligoski is the exception to a group that aren't the greatest puck handlers in comparison to the talent on Chicago's blueline. Despite that the Stars on the whole were very good in divisional matchups last year and seeing as they start out at 2.70 the price is right to back them here.
Best Bet: Dallas Stars to win at 2.70