January 25, 2021

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NHL Opener: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning: Preview & Best Bet – 1/13/2021

By: Trent Pruitt (@trentbets)

I’m fired up that hockey returns tonight although as a Blackhawks fan, I feel absolutely no excitement entering this season. Anyways, we’ll grind out a 56 game season and see if Patrick Kane and Co. can somehow muster up enough points to make a run at the playoffs. As for this game, let’s dive in. I’m going to briefly preview each team and give my best bet for tonight’s game between the Champs and the Hawks!

Money Line: CHI (+212) | TB (-238)

Puck Line: CHI +1.5 (-125) | TB -1.5 (+105)

Total: 6.5 (O +106, U -117)

Puck Drop: 6:00 CST | Amalie Arena | Tampa, FL

Chicago Blackhawks (0-0)

The Blackhawks upset the Oilers this past postseason but that earned them with a first-round matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights. They showed some fight in the series but ultimately, the better side advanced. 

As for this season, the Hawks do not enter the year healthy. They’ll be without Johnathon Toews, Kirby Dach, and Alex Nylander to start the season and unless you’re a hardcore hockey guy, there are some unfamiliar names in the lineup. Chicago still boasts a respectable top line featuring Dylan Strom, Alex DeBrincat, and Patrick Kane. After that, it’ll be interesting to see where the goals come from. Dominik Kubalik had a phenomenal rookie season, notching 30 ginos and adding 16 assists. Chicago will need him to step up more than ever with injuries up front and a questionable back end. Speaking of their own zone, it’s Malcolm Subban who’s projected to get the start on Wednesday night. Subban allowed 3.17 GAA last season with a record of 9-7-3 and a save percentage of .890. 

Tampa Bay Lightning (0-0)

The Champs are set to make another run at the Cup but they’ll have to do it without Nikita Kucherov. The star will miss the regular season due to hip surgery. While you obviously expect the scoring to take a dip, there’s still plenty of offensive talent on this Tampa Bay roster. Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat will likely hold down the top line and those guys can run up the scoreboard. 

On the back end, there’s no dip in talent. Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, and Mikhail Sergachev highlight the defensive while you’re getting Andrei Vasilevskiy back in net. Vasilevskiy boasted a save percentage of .927 in the playoffs last season, winning 18 games in net and allowing only 1.90 goals per game. He was on a different level. 

Final Analysis & Best Bet

Barring some kind of Stanley Cup hangover, the Lighting should absolutely dominate this game. They have the speed to skate circles around Chicago’s defense and the talent to bury the chances they’re going to get. I’m taking a unit on the Lightning money line (-238) and half of a unit on the puck line (+105). I’m extremely pessimistic about the Hawks entering this season plus they’ll be without their leader, Toews, and the budding Dach. This game might get ugly tonight. There is a huge question mark at goaltender with Corey Crawford going to New Jersey (and ultimately retiring) and the awful trade of Robin Lehner to Vegas. I’ll say we get a 5-2 final on Wednesday in the opener. Tampa has won eight out of the last night meetings between these two. Sure, there’s heavy juice backing the Champs, but if you offer me free money, I’m going to take it. 

For more sports betting talk, follow me on Twitter: @trentbets

My Betting Record

2021 NHL Season: 0-0 (+0.00 units)