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It’s the first Saturday night of the 2021-22 NHL season, usually the busiest day of the week for games. Let’s get right into my picks.

Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Ottawa Senators

The Senators shocked the Maple Leafs on Thursday night by jumping out to a three-goal lead, but although the Maple Leafs were unable to complete the comeback, they piled on 25 shots and two goals in the third period. Goaltender Peter Mrazek had to leave the game with an injury, and with Jack Campbell in net on Saturday it’s unlikely the Senators will be able to jump out to an early lead so easily.

Auston Matthews is unlikely to play in this one, which inhibits the Maple Leafs’ offensive performance, but after two straight slow starts that allowed their opponents to get the jump on them, expect the Leafs to be more prepared entering this game.


Colorado Avalanche to defeat the St. Louis Blues by two-goal margin

The Avalanche are among the elite of the elite in terms of Stanley Cup contenders once again this season, and despite losing team captain Gabriel Landeskog to a questionable two-game suspension for an ill-advised hit on a vulnerable player, these Avs mean business this season.

Last year the Avalanche opened the season against the Blues with an upset, losing 4-1. They had the opportunity to get revenge in their very next game and took no prisoners in an 8-0 drubbing. That kind of spiteful dominance is part of what makes the Avalanche great, and I expect them to have their way with the Blues in this one.

AVALANCHE -1.5 +135

Jared McCann scores for the Kraken

Through two games in the Seattle Kraken’s history, top centre Jared McCann has scored in both. Two games isn’t a lot, but he was red hot in the preseason as well, and last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins he was one of the league’s top offense producers on a per minute basis.

Yes, last year he was riding a sky high on-ice shooting percentage that will eventually regress to the mean, and yes, the same could be said of his start this season, but McCann has become an incredible finisher in recent years. While he’s getting top minutes on an expansion team that desperately needs him to lead the way offensively, riding the wave of shooting percentage and finishing ability isn’t a bad call.

The Columbus Blue Jackets rode the emotion of honouring Matiss Kivlenieks, who died in a fireworks accident in July, to an 8-2 blowout win over the tanking Arizona Coyotes in their first game. Those kinds of emotional games are often followed by lacklustre performances as players leave everything they have on the ice, so there should be plenty of opportunity for McCann to light the lamp.


Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Nashville Predators

With Juuse Saros in net, the Nashville Predators aren’t going to be the pushovers that some of the other rebuilding teams around the league are, but the Carolina Hurricanes should once again be one of the top teams in the NHL this season. They sent a statement early with their first win of the season, doubling up the cup-contending New York Islanders 6-3.

Carolina put up 41 shots on goal and held a shot 80-48 attempt advantage in all situations against the defensive juggernaut of Barry Trotz’s Islanders. One game doesn’t mean much, but the Hurricanes appear ready for business to start this season, which spells trouble for the rebuilding Predators.

Losing Ryan Ellis and Victor Arvidsson in the offseason with no satisfactory replacements makes the Predators weaker offensively and defensively, and without the vaunted top-four on defence who were the key to the Predators’ competitive window not too long ago, it will be harder to keep the Hurricanes to the outside.