NHL Betting Guide: Tuesday 10/12/21

A depleted Penguins team faces off against the defending champions on the road. What should we bet to take advantage of that?

The NHL is back, and we kick things off with a two-game slate that includes the defending champions and a brand new franchise. Let’s see where we can find some betting value on opening night.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Under 5.5 (+104)

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished off their Stanley Cup repeat in July. Now, they’ll go for three in a row in what is (hopefully) the first normal season in three years. They face the last team to repeat as champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who will come into the game severely shorthanded.

The Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin for at least two months, and that's only where their forward injuries begin. Sidney Crosby is also out with a wrist injury, and Jake Guentzel and Zach Aston-Reese will both miss this game, as well. The team also lost Jared McCann, making it four of last season's top seven scorers not in the lineup on Tuesday.

The remaining Pittsburgh team is in for a tough task against the Lightning and their defense. Tampa Bay allowed the second-fewest shot attempts in the NHL last season. They also have Andrei Vasilevskiy in net, and he is coming off a dominant postseason. The big Russian netminder had a .935 save percentage and five shutouts in the playoffs last year.

With all these considerations, it seems difficult for the Penguins to hold up their end of the bargain in terms of getting the game over the total. The concern would be that Tampa Bay overwhelms the Penguins with their dominant offense, but we also saw in the playoffs that Tampa is capable of playing many different styles of hockey instead of going all-out attack. It seems reasonable to expect Pittsburgh to play a more conservative brand of hockey, as well, given the firepower they are missing from the lineup.

Currently, our model is not showing any value on this bet, so it's not a play that you would want to risk a significant amount of your bankroll on. If you want to sweat something on opening night on a game on national television, the under 5.5 seems to make sense.

Seattle Kraken vs. Vegas Golden Knights

Under 5.5 (-132)

The Seattle Kraken will make their first foray into the National Hockey League waters against the Vegas Golden Knights. It's not going to be easy for Seattle to live up to what Vegas did in the Knights' inaugural season, and it certainly won't be easy for the Kraken to beat Vegas in their first game. Seattle has also been dealt a big blow to their lineup for opening night.

The Kraken are having to deal with something that all sports teams have had to deal with over the past few seasons: COVID. They could be missing up to five players in this game because of COVID protocols. Yanni Gourde was projected to be a first- or second-line center for the team, and he will miss this game. These missing pieces do not bode well for Seattle against the Golden Knights.

Vegas tied for the most points in last year's strange season where teams played only against their own division. They had strong underlying metrics across the board and allowed the fewest goals in the league. The loss of Marc-Andre Fleury is mitigated by the fact that Robin Lehner will step right in, and Lehner has been one of the best goalies in the NHL for the past three seasons. The duo of Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore are two of the best defensemen in the NHL, which will make it difficult for the Kraken no matter who is in the lineup.

The good news for those who want to bet the under is that the Kraken's blueline remains mostly intact and could be the strength of this team. While the forward group looks very much like an expansion team, the blueline is stacked with solid NHL players. Mark Giordano is only two years removed from winning the Norris trophy. Carson Soucy was a bit of an analytics darling, and playing him with Adam Larsson forms a nice shutdown pair. In net, Philipp Grubauer has been solid for the past three campaigns and offers reasonable stability as a goalie.

We don't have a recommended bet on the total on this game from our model, but given what we can see from the Kraken's lineup and how we know Vegas can dominate defensively, there is at least sound logic backing the under. Our algorithm will certainly have better data once the Kraken actually play a few games, but until then, we can try to predict how they will perform given what we know about the players individually.

Betting two unders might not be fun on opening night, but making bets with positive expectation is always what the goal should be. Again, this isn't a bet to go all-in on, but if you wanted to make a wager on this game, the under is the way to go.