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If you're looking for a trend through three days of the NHL season, home teams are 12-4 through the first 16 games. A lot has been made about the lack of home-field advantage in the NFL this season, but early in this NHL season, it seems like playing in front of your home crowd is a positive.
Dog of the day
With only a three-game slate on tap for Friday, pickings are slim. I'm taking my action to Philadelphia, where the Vancouver Canucks are +125 underdogs against the Flyers.
This is Philadelphia's season opener, and all eyes will be on goaltender Carter Hart. Hart was a highly regarded prospect and had a good first season and a half in the NHL. However, during last year's shortened season, Hart was statistically the worst goaltender in the league. He torpedoed Philadelphia's season.
Goaltenders often are able to bounce back from bad seasons. Almost every elite goalie in the league has had a season where they were poor. It's a volatile position much like a relief pitcher in baseball. However, with Hart having such high expectations in a city desperate for some stability in net, the heat will be on the young netminder from the get-go.
Vancouver lost its season opener to the Edmonton Oilers. They rallied to tie the game late after being down by two goals for most of the affair before falling in a shootout. However, that game showed why the Canucks could be attractive as an underdog. Thatcher Demko is one of the best young goalies in the league and he kept Vancouver in the game. They have enough offensive firepower to strike quickly.
I think Demko gives Vancouver an edge between the pipes. Both teams have enough firepower to score and both teams are questionable in their own zone. I'll take the better goalie at a +125 price.
Rest of the slate
There are only two other games on Friday's NHL slate
Chicago @ New Jersey: The Devils play their season opener, and they are -135 favorites at home against the Blackhawks. Chicago had the unfortunate task of opening their season against the juggernaut Avalanche on Thursday. Both are young teams with some hype entering the season, so I don't see a real edge either way.
Minnesota @ Anaheim: The Wild are huge road favorites in their season opener on the road against Anaheim. Anaheim got the win in their season opener against the Winnipeg Jets, but they're still +145 underdogs at home in this contest. Anaheim was outplayed by Winnipeg in the season opener, but John Gibson severely outplayed Connor Hellebuyck. However, Gibson is missing this game with an injury.
Goaltending is obviously a huge part of the sport, so it's imperative to know who each team has between the pipes on a daily basis.
As mentioned above, John Gibson is out for Anaheim. Anthony Stolarz will be between the pipes for the Ducks in what is a significant downgrade.
MacKenzie Blackwood is not ready to begin the season for the Devils, so Jonathan Bernier will be their goaltender on opening night. Chicago is starting back-up Kevin Lankinen in net as Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to play on Saturday.