Nhl Week Update 1-3/11

Thursday sees the start of the final installment of the NHL’s Global Series with Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets squaring off in back-to-back games at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.

Home from home for the Jets

The Jets have made a solid start to the season and are one of the favourites to lift the Stanley Cup this year, priced at 11.00 in the outright market with only four teams ahead of them in the betting.

Florida appear to be struggling with just two victories so far to leave themselves propping up the Atlantic Division on just seven points.

It should be pointed out that all barring one of their opening nine games has seen only a one-goal winning margin, with four going to overtime, and three of those decided on a shootout.

The Panthers, priced at 1.35 with a +1.5 start, have at least been competitive but have, more often than not, come up short and the same could happen again on Thursday night.

Winnipeg have a significant following in Finland stemming from their greatest export to the NHL, Teemu Selanne, who set rookie records in 1992 after amassing 76 goals and 132 points for the Jets, and there is another burgeoning star coming home in Patrik Laine.

The Jets winger has been earning favourable comparisons to Selanne and may well have the fans behind him, although he needs to step up his offensive production with just three goals and five points to his name so far.

However, the top line has been doing the business with Mark Scheifele leading the way with six goals and 12 points, aided by assist leader (9) Blake Wheeler.

Understandably Winnipeg are 1.71 favourites to win, although a Winnipeg victory in regulation is worth considering at 2.15.

Lightning may just have the edge

There is a huge match in prospect in the early hours of Friday morning as two of the top three in the outright market go head to head in Florida as Tampa Bay Lightning, 8.50 to win the Stanley Cup, host Nashville Predators, next best at 9.00.

Tampa are currently setting the pace in the Atlantic Division, leading Stanley Cup favourites Toronto by a point having played a game less, and go into the clash on the back of an 8-3 mauling over what had been the tightest defence in the NHL, New Jersey Devils.

That impressive victory, however, came after suffering a 7-1 drubbing of their own in Arizona so Tampa will be hoping that home advantage continues to work in their favour, having won five and only losing one – in overtime – at the Amelie Arena.

The Lightning have been installed as 1.80 favourites to emerge victorious although the Predators, on offer at 2.05, will arrive boasting a perfect road record, with five wins from five.

Nashville currently head the Central Division on nine wins and just three losses, with Filip Forsberg enjoying a strong start to the campaign with 10 goals to lie joint second in the goal-scoring charts, while a strong defence – joint third-best in the NHL – will hope to be keeping the Lightning quiet.

However, Tampa may have the edge in goal with Pekka Rinne still struggling for fitness for Nashville, while Andrei Vasilevskiy has enjoyed six wins with a .935 save percentage for the home side.

Avalanche can douse high-flying Flames

Colorado Avalanche can get back to winning ways when they travel to Calgary to take on the Flames.

The Avs top line has been potent to say the least this season, with Mikko Rantanen leading the points scoring charts with 21, while Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon have bagged 10 and nine goals respectively.

They do need to bounce back from a 3-2 reverse against Minnesota but certainly have the firepower to do so, particularly when on offer at 2.15.

The Flames, priced at 1.74, are perhaps defying expectations so far, but a tough run of fixtures – which has seen them beat Boston and Toronto, while losing to Nashville and getting trounced 9-1 by Pittsburgh – may just catch up with them.