St. Louis Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, left, clears the puck from in front of the net as Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog looks on in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
- The 2020-21 NHL season starts on Jan 13th, 2021 with a five-game slate starting at 1:00 PM EST
- The Leafs are narrow favorites over the Habs, while the Blues are underdogs against the Avalanche
- See NHL opening day odds for all games below, along with a breakdown of the top three matchups
Puck drop on the NHL regular season is January 13th, 2021, and the Leafs, Flyers, and Avalanche are favored in the opening day odds. In fact, the latest odds have the Avalanche as +733 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Vegas Golden Knights are next (+783), followed by the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning (+833) in third place.
The Maple Leafs have opened as favorites to win the All-Canadian division at +150 in the Divisional odds. The Edmonton Oilers have the second shortest odds at +275. The Leafs have the shortest odds of any division favorite.
NHL Opening Day Odds
|Montreal Canadiens||+120||+1.5 (-230)||Ov 6.5 (-120)|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||-140||-1.5 (+190)||Un 6.5 (+100)|
|Vancouver Canucks||-110||-1.5 (+250)||Ov 5.5 (-120)|
|Edmonton Oilers||-110||+1.5 (-310)||Un 5.5 (+100)|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||-110||-1.5 (+250)||Ov 6.5 (-120)|
|Philadelphia Flyers||-110||+1.5 (-300)||Un 6.5 (-130)|
|Chicago Blackhawks||+165||+1.5 (-165)||Ov 6.5 (+100)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-195||-1.5 (+140)||Un 6.5 (-120)|
|St. Louis Blues||+120||-1.5 (+240)||Ov 5.5 (-110)|
|Colorado Avalanche||-140||-1.5 (+200)||Un 5.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Jan 4th at FanDuel
Leafs Have Edge Over Canadiens
The Leafs have altered their lineup, adding some sandpaper and grit in Wayne Simmonds while adding a veteran presence in former San Jose Shark veteran Joe Thornton. The 41-year-old has been tabbed to start on the top line with Mitch Marner and center Auston Matthews.
2021 NHL Hart Trophy Odds Tracker
This is a big experiment by a franchise that needs a fresh, new look after another disappointing end to the season. The Leafs lost a best-of-five qualifier to Columbus to fail to advance to the opening-playoff round back in August.
Montreal Odds Shortening
The Montreal Canadiens’ average Stanley Cup odds have shortened from +4933 to +3700 after an active free agency, including the signing of winger Tyler Toffoli. The Canadiens are coming off a surprising postseason run, where they upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-in round, and have added an interesting piece in Corey Perry, who impressed GM Marc Bergevin with his play during the playoffs for the Dallas Stars.
The moment you’ve been waiting for since October…
Here are the first line combos and D pairings of the season ‼️#GoHabsGohttps://t.co/ecIeNYMdT2
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 4, 2021
Other Montreal newcomers include forward Josh Anderson, defenseman Joel Edmundson, and goaltender Jake Allen. Tomas Tatar is coming off of back-to-back career seasons, scoring 58 points in 2018-19 and a team-leading 61 points in a shortened 2019-20.
The Leafs are favored at home by 1.5 goals. But there is good value in betting Montreal. A $20 winning bet will return $24. In 2019-20, Montreal went 3-0 in the season series.
Penguins Have the Edge
The Penguins are 1.5-goal favorites against the Flyers. But Pittsburgh will start the season without Kasperi Kapanen. His arrival is being held up due to immigration issues, according to reports. Kapanen is currently in Finland.
HOCKEY IS HAPPENING! pic.twitter.com/2UrUg0bTvs
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 4, 2021
Once he arrives, he will have to go into a mandatory seven-day quarantine period. He was acquired in a trade with the Leafs in August. During the offseason, coach Mike Sullivan indicated that Kapanen would play alongside Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.
Evgeni Malkin went under the knife in August to repair a left elbow injury. The 34-year-old center is back to full strength, centering a line with Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust to start training camp.
The Flyers will have to cope without defenseman Matt Niskanen, who retired in the offseason. Niskanen was an all-situation, top-pair rearguard with Ivan Provorov. Philly might have to take a committee approach to replace him. Candidates include Philippe Myers, Travis Sanheim, Erik Gustafsson, and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Let’s update this: Matt Niskanen has informed PHI that he will retire. Team asked him to take some time and think about it, he did and stayed with that decision. The Flyers are working on re-signing Justin Braun, do not want to lose two critical members of the PK
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 5, 2020
The flat salary cap meant that the Flyers did not add a forward in free agency. But another reason is that they believe in the future of Oskar Lindblom following the 24-year-old’s fight with cancer.
The Penguins owned a 2-1 record against the Flyers last season. For the Flyers, there are more questions than answers. In Pittsburgh, Crosby is healthy and fresh. That should be enough.
Avalanche Have Edge
The Colorado Avalanche are favored by 1.5 goals against the Blues. The Avalanche are 100% healthy going into training camp. Injuries were a contributing factor in the playoffs when the Avalanche lost to the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference semifinals.
Saad sighting!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/veRungNMwj
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 3, 2021
Goaltender Pavel Francouz (hip, knee) was the only one who required offseason surgery. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer is back from a groin issue, and veteran blueliner Erik Johnson is recovered from knee-and-ankle problems.
Newcomers Brandon Saad and Devon Toews will begin with big roles, with Saad playing right wing on the second line and Toews paired with Cale Makar on the first defensive pairing. Makar is the reigning Calder Trophy winner as NHL Rookie of the Year.
Defenseman Bowen Byram, the 2019 first-round draft pick (fourth overall) who is currently co-captain of Canada’s World Junior Championship team in Edmonton, will join the Avs’ camp following the tournament.
Blues Lose Key Players
The Blues will go into the season without the leadership and experience of Jake Allen, Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, and Alexander Steen. The club has turned over nearly one-third of its roster since Game 7 of the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Finals.
Bring on Jan. 13. #stlblues pic.twitter.com/PPKu1TrzcA
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 4, 2021
But the Blues have added scoring punch with the expected signing of high-scoring Mike Hoffman. Newcomers also include defenseman Torey Krug and tough-guy Kyle Clifford. Goalie Ville Husso has been promoted from the minors.
The Avalanche and Blues split their season series 2-2 in 2019-20. The Avalanche should roll not only in this one but throughout the regular season.
Curtis has been a sports writer for more than 40 years, contributing to the Toronto Star, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the Guardian and Forbes. He has covered the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, PGA, ATP and WTA. Curtis resides in Toronto.