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

With the NHL season finally underway, the season previews are over and it’s time to get into the nitty gritty.

Every Thursday and Saturday this season, I’ll be bringing you my four bets from that day’s slate of games, along with some context to get you ready for the best action hockey has to give. Let’s get into it!

Montreal Canadiens defeat the Buffalo Sabres

Completing the second half of a road-only back-to-back to open the season would normally be a reason to bet against the Canadiens, but the Buffalo Sabres are such a thin team this season that Monreal should win this one handily.

Without Carey Price and Mike Hoffman to start the season and still dealing with the likely permanent loss of Shea Weber, not to mention offseason departures of core players like Phillip Danault and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the Canadiens can’t afford to lose the games they should win if they want to make the playoffs this season.

After last season’s run to the Stanley Cup Final, the Canadiens are still a long shot to make the playoffs this year, but expect them to be a very determined group to make that a fight.


Toronto Maple Leafs open the Battle of Ontario with a win

The Maple Leafs are another team on the second half of a back-to-back, but it’s a little too early to play the tired card. Ottawa has been a thorn in the Toronto's side during the regular season in recent years despite a huge talent disparity between the two teams, but I’m looking at the currently shorthanded Leafs - with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner both nursing injuries to start the year - and expecting a business-like start to the season.

During the preseason, the Maple Leafs were a pretty tight defensive group, and with their top offensive stars either absent or not 100 per cent, Ottawa’s style of capitalizing on the mistakes of their opponents shouldn’t be as successful as usual.

Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin was quoted as saying his team entered training camp this season with a sense of anger permeating the group. They’re upset about how last season ended, and the narrative around the team. I expect them to get off to a roaring start to the year, and the Senators will be among the first victims.


Stanley Cup Champions rebound with authority

The Tampa Bay Lightning raised their second-straight Stanley Cup banner to the rafters in Amalie Arena to open the 2021-22 NHL season on Tuesday, and then gave their fans a listless performance as the Pittsburgh Penguins - without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and defensive specialist Zach Aston-Reese - thoroughly embarrassed them in a 6-2 blowout.

The Lightning are a team with a lot of pride, you can’t not be when you win back-to-back cups, and losing that way in what should have been among the happiest moments in franchise history has to sting.

Fortunately for the Lightning, their next game on the schedule is against the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings, which gives them an opportunity to flex their muscles and get the train back on the tracks right away. Expect the Lightning to win by three goals or more.


Seattle Kraken win their first game in franchise history

The first game in the Kraken’s history had the potential to be great, but a controversial goal by the Vegas Golden Knights prevented an epic comeback by Seattle from 3-0 down midway through the game.

Seattle controlled the puck for almost the entire game at 5-vs-5, owning 54.26 per cent of the shot attempts, and 57.89 per cent of the high danger scoring chances. And that was against a legitimate Stanley Cup contender on the road.

How good the Kraken will be overall is still up for debate, but at least to start, they’re out to prove they belong in the NHL. Against the rebuilding Nashville Predators, the Kraken are going to earn their first regulation win in franchise history.