NHL GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK

By Ian Cameron  () 

Welcome to the weekly installment of my “NHL Games To Watch” betting column for VSiN Point Spread Weekly. I’ll preview some of the marquee NHL games each week taking place between Thursday and Sunday, targeting some interesting betting spots and looking for potential value with undervalued sides and totals throughout the season.

Boston Bruins @ Toronto Maple Leafs

Saturday, Oct. 19 - 7pm ET/4pm PT The Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs meet for the first regular-season game between these two division rivals since their first-round playoff series last year, in which the Bruins erased a 3-2 series deficit to win in seven games. Boston has been excellent to begin the season, showing no signs of a letdown after losing to St. Louis in the Stanley Cup Final last season. The Bruins have won five of their first six games and have outscored opponents 16-10. They have received strong defensive play and terrific goaltending from the duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Similar defensive aptitude has not been on display for Toronto, which has been inconsistent, allowing 22 goals in its first six games. The Leafs have a very dangerous offensive team with four lines that can contribute on the scoresheet, but their success and how far they go will hinge on whether they can tighten things up in their own zone. In terms of the fundamentals and the matchup, I favor Boston, but I like the intangible of Toronto facing Boston for the first time since the Bruins ended their season last spring. The Bruins have been scoring more goals than we would normally think, so that also has me leaning toward the over at a total of likely 6 or 6.5.

Vegas Golden Knights @ Pittsburgh Penguins

Saturday, Oct. 19 - 7pm ET/4pm PT The Vegas Golden Knights have lived up to their billing as Western Conference and Stanley Cup contenders. The Pittsburgh Penguins are battling significant injuries early in the season at center ice to Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad but have survived those absences with a decent record intact. I predicted Pittsburgh to miss the playoffs, and I think the Penguins will be up against it in this matchup. They did notch consecutive wins last weekend against the Minnesota Wild and the Winnipeg Jets, but both of those teams are flawed. Minnesota can’t score. Winnipeg has struggled to defend. Vegas has shown the ability to play well at both ends of the ice, with solid defense and strong goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, who you would think will always be fired up to play well against his former team. The Golden Knights are also one of the top 5 teams in the NHL in goals scored per game through the first two weeks. Vegas’ top two lines of Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith plus Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-Mark Stone have been massive difference-makers early in the season, and I think the Pittsburgh defense is one of the slower and more suspect blue lines in the NHL. Vegas should be a small road favorite, and if that is the case, I believe a bet on the Golden Knights will be worth making in this Saturday night clash.

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