What We Know 3 Weeks into the NHL Season

NHL Feb 02, 2021

2020-21 NHL News and Notes for February 2, 2021

Just a few notes from the past week while looking around the league for latest news and stories to follow:

West Division

The Colorado Avalanche are finding their legs but have a difficult stretch of games coming up this month.  Their forwards and defensemen look sharp and efficient, making plays and overmatching their opponents most shifts.  They look “championship” good and should be a popular bet if you are looking at in game bets.  G Philipp Grubauer should also get the bulk of the starts, as their backup is out with injury.  Grubauer’s record in February should also indicate if Colorado looks for help at the deadline.  

St. Louis Blues have had some recent issues with young D Vince Dunn.  Dunn is the odd man out on a defensive corps that is set.  He could be moved, and the Blues are asking for a high draft pick.  St. Louis also needs to make a move or two to adjust to some cap issues, so a deal may be forced upon them.  

Las Vegas resumes play this week, having to postpone its games due to positive COVID tests.  

The California teams all still need help and did not look too impressive.  I mentioned G John Gibson (Anaheim Ducks) had been carrying his team last week, but he ran into the Blues over the weekend, getting pulled Saturday night and losing 4-1 Sunday.  Look for him to recover a little, but the work overload may cause Anaheim to use his back up a little more.  Look for starting lineup before placing your bets.

North Division

Oh, Canada!  Toronto and Montreal look to the cream of the crop in the north.  Both teams have a balanced attack on offense with good defense.  Toronto took a step back with an injury to back-up G Jack Campbell, so starter Frederik Andersen may get a few more games in the interim.  Montreal is using their goalies quite well, but they have some troubles with a young defenseman, Victor Mette.  Like St. Louis, they may move him if they can not settle the playing time issues.  

Edmonton is smoking hot on offense, with C Connor McDavid and C Leon Draisaitl performing like the MVPs they are.  However, the rest of the team is lagging and their goalie, Mikko Koskinen, is carrying most of the load.  He may start to bend to the tough schedule and quick turnarounds.  

The Winnipeg Jets will have to wait another week for C Pierre Luc-Dubois, but their team is humming along.  He should solidify the top line when he becomes available, provide some defensive help.  That help should benefit G Connor Hellebuyck, especially in the third period.  

Rounding out the division, Ottawa is a bad team, but they have some prospects and talent.  They will be making more mistakes, giving up bad defensive goals, so avoid G Matt Murray, if you can.  He is doing his best with a young team, but his back-up may see some action to stop the shellshock.

The Central

The Lightning and Stars, last years finalists, both look good and have mostly feasted on weak teams.  Dallas ran in to a balanced Carolina Hurricanes team, leaving their series with only a point.  Teams like Carolina and Columbus should give the Stars some trouble, so be careful on those matchups.  Dallas plays either Columbus, Carolina, or Tampa Bay in six of the next 10 games.  The Lightning look to have their team running along.  Follow the injury reports and if they have any postponed games.  

For the bottom of the division, Chicago and Detroit have shown signs of life.  In Chicago, G Kevin Lankinen has taken the reins of the net and they may give him the opportunity to lead.  He may get multiple starts coming up, possibly back-to-backs.  In Detroit, they are waiting to see what other teams need their players and the trade deadline to get here.  Their interest in the trade market, who moves and for what, will be key for what their asking price is.  

Carolina and Columbus are holding their own, providing good hockey.  Both teams are even, and they are trying to keep up with the points in their division.  They may make a move or two around the trade deadline.

The East

The big story in the East is emerging out of New York and the Rangers.  Tony DeAngelo had signed a 2-year deal in the offseason, despite having some off ice and social media issues.  He had a difficult drafting process, with several red flags on his record.  He was told Monday that he would be on waivers, with the final straw involving him and a teammate getting into a fight after Saturdays game vs Pittsburgh.  

Mentioning Pittsburgh, their Hall of Fame GM Jim Rutherford resigned this week, almost out of the blue.  His step down comes as a shock to the league, giving that Pittsburgh still had their power duo, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin, and wanted to chase one more title. His absence should cause some movement among the management levels in the league, shifting some behind the scenes action.  

As for on the ice developments, Philadelphia might have found that giving G Carter Hart a night or two off and G Brian Elliot more of a role, with positive results.  “Less is More” with this team, and the extra night off may pay dividends come playoff time.  

After a good start, NY Islanders have fallen back a little.  They have high hopes for making the playoffs but having to make some tough moves this past offseason.  They may have regressed a bit, but they have a good team, so do not sleep on them.  

Boston and Washington are sitting right with Philadelphia, right at the top.  Both teams are trying not get hurt and look to the playoffs.  Washington had a little issue with COVID protocols, resulting in a big fine for the team.  Buffalo and New Jersey, both teams are holding their own, but the schedule might start to take a toll on them.  Do not buy in to the early success for these teams, especially with New Jersey.

Bonus – A Super Bowl Prediction:  

Finally, Super Bowl LV is this Sunday.  I’m going to put my bets for the big game.
I am taking the Kansas City Chiefs to win 24-20.  I like the under, I will swallow the -3.5 points, and just for a little bonus- T. Hill and T. Kelce are +1200 and +1300 to win MVP.  The weather is not looking good down in Tampa Bay, so I think both will have a big part.  If it is really bad, look for T. Kelce to have a bigger role, more short passes and controlling the game clock.  He should also be a lock for a TD.

Look for more insights and notes in the weeks and months to come here at POINTSPREADS.CA!

-- Writer Patrick Day can be reached at: gotpuckspat@hotmail.com

-- Follow Patrick Day on Twitter:  @Pokersuit30

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