Here are three situations that NHL bettors should be monitoring:
Devils set for tough stretch, possibly without their two best players
After playing back-to-back games against Ottawa and Montreal, the Devils will head to St. Louis to play the Blues before going home to New Jersey to host the Penguins and Lightning. Dougie Hamilton did not accompany the team on the trip, and it seems unlikely he’ll join his teammates in St. Louis. Jack Hughes, meanwhile, was placed in COVID-19 protocol following the All-Star Game and is out for an undetermined length of time. The Devils are a bad hockey team, and right now they’re relying on Jon Gillies, Nico Daws and Akira Schmid to get the job done. If you don’t know who any of those goaltenders are, don’t feel bad. Not many do. Without Hughes and Hamilton, the Devils are easy pickings for teams such as St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
Prepare for Eichel’s debut following two-game road trip
Jack Eichel will make his debut for Vegas at some point in the near future. It sounds like he’s just about ready to play. Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone are elite, but if Eichel is the same player he was before the injury, he will undoubtedly be the top player on the team. Since Vegas has never had a player of Eichel’s caliber, this version of the Golden Knights will be the franchise’s best. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee a Stanley Cup, and there’s still work to be done in order to finish in first place in the Pacific Division. The exact date of Eichel’s debut is still unknown, but it’s unlikely to happen on the team’s two-day trip through Edmonton and Calgary. However, bettors should keep a close eye on the Golden Knights’ return home. They are set to host the Avalanche on Feb. 16 after five days off.
Jets stand little chance of making the playoffs with long list of injured players
There’s no timetable on the return of Winnipeg forward Nikolaj Ehlers, who is dealing with a knee injury, and there are a lot of other lineup questions that must be answered on a game-to-game basis. The Jets are missing several regulars. Pierre-Luc Dubois was added to the COVID list, along with Neal Pionk, and there are a handful of depth players dealing with injuries that are listed as day-to-day. Dubois could be ready to play this weekend if he clears COVID protocol, but if he isn’t able to travel with the team, the Jets are going to start a tough stretch without two of their best players. Winnipeg will travel to Dallas on Friday and immediately head to Nashville to play a game on Saturday. The team will then head home to host the Blackhawks, Wild and Kraken over the course of four days. All in all, the Jets will play five games in seven days, and things could get really ugly if they’re going to be icing a depleted lineup.