Pittsburgh Penguins vs New Jersey Devils
Just as it was prior to last season it's the Pittsburgh Penguins who have been installed as early favourites to lift the Stanley Cup thanks to their considerable star power. Tonight they face a tough opening game of their campaign against the New Jersey Devils.
Brutally dismantled by Boston in the postseason, the Pens have admirably stuck with their core and also coach Dan Bylsma which was the correct decision rather than to overreact. The Devils were left smarting early in the offseason by Ilya Kovalchuk's shock departure to the KHL, but they've turned it around thanks to the some solid free agency signings including Jaromir Jagr and also by acquiring goalie Cory Schneider from Vancouver.
Schneider has been absolutely sensational in preseason; posting a save percentage of 98.8 over four appearances, that form meant he had to get the nod and consequentially end Martin Brodeur's 18-year streak of starting season openers. For me the Devils are well worth a go tonight way out at 3.85.
San Jose Sharks vs Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver have extra reason to be fired up as they go out to avenge being swept by the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs, and with the Canucks' switch to the Pacific Division they'll be becoming even more accustomed over the coming months.
Neither of the two clubs saw fit to make an major changes to their playing staff, however Vancouver did see fit to bring in John Tortorella to replace Alain Vigneault behind the bench. Although Tortorella brings a Stanley Cup it's an interesting appointment because his gritty defensive philosophy and combustible personality should shake a few in the locker room.
The Sharks have an excellent balance to their roster from back to front, in that series back in May they did such a good job of neutralising Vancouver's chief threats and the Sedin twins in particular.
Considering their shift to a more conservative game, the Canucks are likely to equal San Jose's strength on the back end, so fewer than 4.5 total goals looks good value at 2.18. As you'll have gathered, I really like San Jose's chances this season, back them to seal a home victory at 2.25.
Best Bet: San Jose Sharks to win at 2.25.