NHL dog of the day: The champs should roll on opening night

·3-min read

My goal this season is to make hockey cool. Clearly the fourth most popular sport, it's often overlooked by sports fans and bettors as well. I went through each team in depth and gave my thoughts on their season long outlook. I'll also be doing a daily article where I'll give my favorite plus-money play of the night courtesy of BetMGM.

The champs should roll on opening night

The NHL season kicks off in Tampa Bay Tuesday where the Lightning are hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be raising their second straight banner to the rafters. The Lightning are prohibitive -250 favorites on the moneyline with the total currently sitting at 5.5 goals

There are definitely some concerns about the Lightning this season, led by the depletion of their depth in the offseason and their motivation levels during the regular season after winning back-to-back Cups. However, I don't think that'll be a concern on Tuesday night. Energy should be high from the champs with them raising the Cup banner in their home opener in front of a full crowd. 

I'm down on the Penguins this year and this is a very incomplete version of those Penguins. Pittsburgh will be without three top-line forwards in this game as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel are out with injuries. Additionally, the Penguins will be without bottom-six grinder Zach Ashton-Reese and defenseman Mike Matheson. 

TAMPA, FLORIDA - JULY 07: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning leads the team around the ice with the Stanley Cup following the victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Amalie Arena on July 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. The Lightning defeated the Canadiens 1-0 to take the series four games to one. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Lightning are big favorites on opening night as they look to defend their back-to-back championships. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Tampa is clearly a more talented team than Pittsburgh even when the teams are both healthy. Couple the injury woes for Pittsburgh with the electric atmosphere expected on opening night, and I like the Lightning to win this game by multiple goals.

Dog of the day: Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (+105)

Rest of the NHL slate

There's just one other game on the opening night schedule for the NHL. The Seattle Kraken are +200 underdogs in their first ever game. They'll head to Vegas to face off against the Golden Knights. 

I'd love to bet on Seattle in their first ever game, and in most normal circumstances, I'd be on the underdog here. However, the Kraken will be fielding a depleted roster in their first game as four players will be missing the game due to COVID-protocols. 

I'll stay away from the game from a betting standpoint, but I look forward to watching the NHL's newest team. 

Injuries and back-up goaltenders

As it's opening night, we don't need to worry about any backup goaltenders getting the start on Tuesday. However, there are injury concerns as outlined above. The following players are not expected to play:

Pittsburgh: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, Zach Ashton-Reese, Mike Matheson

Seattle: Yanni Gourde, Jamie Oleksiak, Jared McCann, Mattias Janmark, Calle Jarnkrok

Vegas: Alex Tuch, Nicolas Roy

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