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Every NHL team has now played at least four games as we enter the third week of the regular season. Some teams that were expected to finish at the bottom of the standings such as Buffalo, Detroit and Columbus have gotten off to great starts. Other teams that were expected to compete for the Cup, such as Vegas, Colorado and Toronto have struggled.
It's still far too early to overreact, but always keep track of how teams are doing. I think we're still about 2-3 weeks away from having enough data to draft meaningful conclusions from, but sports betting is always about being ahead of the curve. Let's take a look at some NHL lines for Monday's seven-game slate at BetMGM.
Dog of the day
Year-to-date record: 5-2-0
Year-to-date units: +4.65 units
The St. Louis Blues have opened their season by winning their first four games, scoring 22 goals in the process while allowing just 11. They've won each game by at least two goals.
On the other side, the Los Angeles Kings haven't won since their season opener, losing four straight in the process. They've scored just 8 goals over that span.
These teams played on Saturday, with the Blues earning a 7-3 win on their home-ice. That was Los Angeles' first game without star defenseman Drew Doughty, who suffered a knee injury in the Kings' previous game.
While I obviously don't expect the Blues to run the gauntlet and finish 82-0, they are a very solid team. I don't have similar expectations for the Kings who should finish the season near the bottom of the standings. This is also a good scheduling spot for St. Louis. The Blues are in the midst of a home-stand while Los Angeles is playing their third game in four nights and wrapping up a 4-game road trip.
The Blues also have a big advantage when it comes to the special teams. The Blues have the second best powerplay in the league to begin the season, while Los Angeles has the second worst penalty kill.
Both teams are expected to start their backup goaltender in this matchup, with Ville Husso making his season debut for the Blues against Jonathan Quick of the Kings.
Rest of the slate
Tampa Bay @ Buffalo: The Lightning are -175 road favorites based on these teams' preseason reputations. However, with Buffalo's hot start and Andrei Vasilevskiy getting the night off for the Lightning, I don't mind taking a shot on the home underdog here. Tampa Bay has been fairly mediocre to begin the season.
Toronto @ Carolina: The Hurricanes are off to a 4-0 start and the city of Toronto is in turmoil due to the Maple Leafs' 2-3-1 start, but the Hurricanes are just -115 favorites at home. If you don't believe in betting traps, Carolina is clearly the side to back here. I'm weary that Toronto breaks out of its slump, but I'm staying away.
Dallas @ Columbus: The Blue Jackets are off to a surprising 3-2 start, but they are still +105 home underdogs against Dallas. Dallas has struggled to score, with just 10 goals in its first five games. I'd lean toward under 5.5 goals here, as both Braden Holtby and Elvis Merzlikins have been great to start the season.
Arizona @ Florida: Our first -400 favorite of the season is the Florida Panthers. I'll say it loudly for everyone: do not ever lay -400 in this stupid, random, frustrating, beautiful sport. Florida might score 10 against Carter Hutton, but don't lay the juice.
Calgary @ NY Rangers: The Rangers are off to a very impressive 4-1-1 start and they are deserving -145 favorites on their home ice against Calgary. The Flames are a solid team, but this line seems fairly spot on and I don't see much value on either side.
Washington @ Ottawa: The Senators were +140 favorites earlier in the day, but at the current moneyline price of +125, it seems like the value on Ottawa is gone. Washington wins this game more often than not, but I'm not laying -155 on the road here.
Backup goaltenders are in bold.
Tampa Bay Lightning (Brian Elliott) @ Buffalo Sabres (Craig Anderson)
Washington Capitals (Ilya Samsonov) @ Ottawa Senators (Anton Forsberg)
Arizona Coyotes (Carter Hutton) @ Florida Panthers (Spencer Knight)
Calgary Flames (Jacob Markstrom) @ New York Rangers (Unknown)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Jack Campbell) @ Carolina Hurricanes (Frederik Andersen)
Dallas Stars (Braden Holtby) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (Elvis Merzlikins)
Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick) @ St. Louis Blues (Ville Husso)