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Your Hockey Weekend: Best Bets for this weekend’s action

Last week: 2-4

Season total: 2-4

Well, there’s nothing like digging yourself out of a hole after the first week of gambling, right? We had a tough start to the betting year in the NHL, as it seemed that teams were all over the map from a scoring perspective. No worries, another week of action and we are ready to have a look at what is coming up of interest on this weekend’s slate of games.

Montreal Canadiens at Ottawa Senators (Montreal -1.5, o/u 6)

Well, this is a far more intriguing matchup than we thought it might be at the beginning of the season! Both of these teams underwent overhauls and controversy in the offseason, and neither were predicted to do much damage this year. Montreal is off to a very hot start, having lost only 1 of their first 6 games in regulation and scoring two wins over Pittsburgh already.

Ottawa, having traded its captain and leader Erik Karlsson to San Jose, has been relying on young talent to pick up the slack, and the early indications are very positive. We love this rivalry (although we do wish that the Quebec Nordiques were back as more natural rivals for the Habs). Regardless, this should be an entertaining matchup.

Our pick: Take Ottawa +1.5

Detroit Red Wings at Florida Panthers ( o/u 6.0)

Something has to give in this game on Saturday. Both teams are off to dismal starts early, but with very different expectations. The Red Wings are clearly in the middle of a rebuild, but that doesn’t mean that the fans are going to put up with a horrible season. Yes, their string of 25 straight playoff appearances was broken last year, but the team is hoping to start a new streak soon. Goaltending continues to plague the team, as well as a general lack of firepower.

The Panthers, on the other hand, seemed to be heading in the right direction a couple of years ago, only to find themselves stalled once again. Aging and ageless goaltender Roberto Luongo is hurt again, leaving the starting duties to James Reimer. Even though they watched former teammates Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith make it to the Stanley Cup Finals with Vegas last year (coached by the coach they fired, BTW), there won’t be many excuses left for the likes of Aaron Ekblad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Barkow if the losing continues. Expect both teams to be playing with some desperation. Florida is playing the back half of a back-to-back series of games after winning their first of the season in Washington on Friday night.

Our pick: Take the Under

Buffalo Sabres at Los Angeles Kings (LA -1.5, over 6.0)

An afternoon affair for these teams (12:30pm local start) that are both looking for a spark. Buffalo boasts some great young talent, but there are still plenty of holes, which San Jose exploited this week on their way to a 5-1 victory. This is the California swing for the Sabres, with a game on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Kings, on the other hand, are struggling to find their identity. Goalie Jonathan Quick, who had been out with an injury for a few games, came back into the net on Thursday night only to be pummeled for 6 goals against in a 7-2 loss to the lowly New York Islanders at home. The addition of Ilya Kovalchuk to the roster doesn’t seem to have had the bounce the Kings management had hoped, and the stars like Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar will continue to be expected to push this team ahead.

Our Pick: Take the Over in this game.

St. Louis Blues at Toronto Maple Leafs (Toronto -1.5, o/u 6)

A return trip to Toronto for long-time leaf Tyler Bozak highlights this national matchup for Hockey Night in Canada. No doubt there will be some emotion in the building when the video tribute is played in the first period. On the ice, however, are two teams that should find themselves involved in a battle. St. Louis has some heavyweights up front with Vladimir Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn, and yet only have one win to show for themselves through their first 6 games. The Leafs, on the other hand, had been red-hot to start the season until they found themselves on the losing end of a lackluster 3-0 tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

You can expect that both offenses will try to get themselves back on track, and we think the goal lights will be in action an awful lot during the game. These two teams have power plays in the top 6 in the league early in the season, so staying out of the penalty box will be a big priority.

Our pick: Take the over and Toronto -1.5