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NHL dog of the day: New era begins for Rangers

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Right off the bat, I've got two issues that surfaced on opening night of the NHL season.

First, and far less serious, how can the Tampa Bay Lightning just absolutely not show up in their season opener in front of their home fans against a depleted Penguins team. Shoutout to the Penguins who played a great game, but Tampa just never showed up. Thankfully we didn't lay the -250 juice on the moneyline. 

Second, and this is a far more serious issue as a hockey bettor, is the handling of the Kraken situation. For those unaware, Seattle played its first NHL game last night and it was expected to be without four players due to COVID protocols. Then, out of nowhere, about an hour before game time, news came out that three of the players on the COVID list were cleared to play. 

Jared McCann and Joonas Donskoi play top-six minutes for the Kraken. Jamie Oleksiak is a second pairing defenseman. These are vital players for the team. The NHL has no transparency in terms of reporting injuries or COVID issues, and if it wants to become serious about entering the betting and fantasy landscape, these things need to change. 

NHL dog of the day

The New York Rangers had a wild offseason, and Tom Wilson was the main reason for that. After Wilson basically rag-dolled Artemi Panarin in a game toward the end of last season, the Rangers changed their whole organizational philosophy. They fired their general manager and coach, and bought in a whole lot of players known for being tough to play against. 

Funny how things work out sometimes, as the Rangers play Tom Wilson and the Capitals to open their season. Washington is a slight -115 favorite on their home ice.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 25:  Artemi Panarin #10 of the New York Rangers talks to his teammates during warm ups before the game against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on April 25, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Artemi Panarin looks to help his New York Rangers get the season started on the right foot. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Capitals will be without first-line center Nicklas Backstrom, and star forward Alex Ovechkin is a game-time decision. Even without those injuries, I think the Rangers might be the better team. 

New York is a young team that has been improving over recent years. I think it upgraded its coaching by hiring Gerard Gallant. And even though they'll never say it out loud, you know the Rangers see this as a game where they can make a loud statement against a team that embarrassed them last year. 

Igor Shesterkin gives the Rangers a significant advantage between the pipes over Vitek Vanecek. I like the Rangers here as a small pup. Currently, New York is -105 on the moneyline at BetMGM.

UPDATE: The NHL strikes again as we find out half an hour before gametime that the Rangers will be starting their backup goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev, in this game. I think the Rangers are still worth a bet.

Rest of the slate

There are four other games on Wednesday's slate:

Toronto vs. Montreal: The Maple Leafs are -175 favorites at home against Montreal. This is a revenge spot for Toronto after the Canadiens eliminated it in the playoffs last season. With that being said, this line is a bit too high and I'd lean toward a play on Montreal at +145.

Vancouver vs. Edmonton: The Oilers are prohibitive -190 favorites at home and I have no interest in laying that price with them. I don't expect much from the Canucks, but if you're throwing darts, Vancouver at +155 is the value side. I'd also look toward the over as neither team inspires much confidence defensively. 

Colorado vs. Chicago: Colorado opens the season as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. I don't lay -200 in hockey games, but I'm also not starting the season by stepping in front of the Avalanche train this early either. 

Winnipeg vs. Anaheim: Another road favorite for me here. Winnipeg is a good team, Anaheim is one of the league's worst teams. I'll lay -140 with the Jets here.

Goaltending situations

Teams are rolling with their No. 1 goalies to begin the season. In some cases, teams' top goalies aren't as obvious as others.

Washington is going with Vitek Vanecek over Ilya Samsonov. Toronto is going with Jack Campbell over Petr Mrazek. Montreal's No. 1 goalie for the foreseeable future will be Jake Allen as Carey Price has left the team for personal reasons.