Visit the Betway Insider NHL picks page for tips and predictions throughout the season.

For the first time in this young season, we went four for four on our predictions for Thursday night, which is pretty unlikely for a season that has started out in such an unpredictable matter. Even so, patterns are emerging! Let’s get into it.

Winnipeg Jets defeat Nashville Predators -120

The Jets are a bit of a mess to start the season. Not only are they not playing very well, but they’ve got a COVID outbreak on their hands that has taken out Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele short term. So why am I picking them over the Predators, who have played better than expected?

One major reason: Connor Hellebuyck finally looked like himself in the Jets’ first win of the season. Hellebuyck had a rough first few games, but people should remember that he dealt with a COVID infection not too long before the season began, so it’s likely he needed some time to get his legs under him, and when he is himself, he’s the best goalie in the world.

Combine that with Kyle Connor already being red hot with five goals on the season, and the Predators struggling as a team to find the back of the net, and this one looks like it has loads of potential to go Winnipeg’s way. 

Detroit Red Wings defeat Montreal Canadiens +140

The Red Wings are off to an unexpectedly strong start, and though they’ll be without Tyler Bertuzzi in Canada, they’ve controlled expected goals at 5-vs-5 very well to start the season, and they’re facing an exceptionally fragile team in Montreal who still have not scored multiple goals in a game.

The Canadiens have been much better at even strength than their results indicate, but still boast the 11th-worst expected goal ratio in the league so far, which is driven primarily by their punchless offence. The Red Wings have actually been exceptional defensively in terms of goals allowed at 5-vs-5 so far this season, which is going to make it difficult for the Canadiens to break through.

Add in the fact that the Red Wings have had the Habs’ number in recent years, and it sure looks like the losing streak will last at least one more game. 

Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche go past regulation +335

Possibly the biggest shocker of this young season has been the incredible bad luck afflicting two of the league’s top contenders for the Stanley Cup. The Avalanche are 1-3 so far this season, with a decent expected goals rate of 52.7 per cent. The issue is that in terms of actual goals, they’ve controlled just 38.9 per cent at 5-vs-5.

Similarly, the Lightning have been just okay at 5-vs-5 with a 50.5 per cent expected goal share, but have actually just controlled 28.6 per cent of the goals in that game state, while scraping out a 2-2-0 record. The Lightning have also lost Nikita Kucherov for the foreseeable future, so things are looking a little bleak at the moment.

Both these teams need a big win to get them headed in the right direction, and both of these teams need their high-level goaltenders to start making saves. Expect a very tight game.

Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Toronto Maple Leafs +110

The Maple Leafs head into this one as the second half of a back-to-back set, which immediately gives them a sizeable disadvantage. Add in that it’s also a back-to-back with travel, and it becomes a tough one to win.

On top of that, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been much better than expected to start the season. Without both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins have been dominating opponents to the tune of the fourth-best expected goals rate in the NHL.

Losing a rejuvenated Tristan Jarry and Jeff Carter to COVID-19 protocols makes things increasingly difficult for the Penguins, but despite the Maple Leafs’ pretty strong play, they’ve only been okay so far this season.