Today's Free Picks for
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Posted at 11:45 AM EST
10:00 PM EST. Bringing back a core that might have advanced to the Cup Final had No. 1 goaltender John Gibson stayed healthy, the Ducks have their sights set on taking the next step. They cleared a big hurdle with their series-clinching win against the Edmonton Oilers in the second round but Anaheim will be far from healthy coming into the opener. Defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen will each miss the first few weeks after suffering shoulder injuries during the playoffs. Center Ryan Kesler is also out, which leaves the Ducks with Ryan Getzlaf, Antoine Vermette, Chris Wagner and Logan Shaw as the four centers for now. That’s a problem. While we like the Ducks depth everywhere else, Anaheim has started slow the past couple of years and usually kick it into gear once January rolls around. This line also stuck out to us. If the Blues, a quality squad for years, were getting +170 in Pittsburgh last night and Philadelphia is getting +145 in L.A. tonight, how can these perennial basement dwellers be priced less than St. Louis and in the same range as Philly? That tells us the oddsmakers give the Coyotes a big shot tonight.
Arizona is high on our radar as an undervalued squad. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is great and Alex Goligoski joins him back there. Adding Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jason Demers and Arizona’s blue line is looking pretty damn good. Gone are longtime head coach Dave Tippett and captain Shane Doan. After eight seasons behind the bench, Tippett was replaced by former Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Rick Tocchet, who will lean heavily on his new top center, Derek Stepan, and starting goaltender, Antti Raanta, each of whom were acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers. The ‘Yotes also have one of the most compelling prospect groups in the league with Dylan Strome, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller, who starred at Boston University last season and could be a favorite to win the Calder Trophy as top rookie. All that potential could flourish under Tocchet, who was hailed as a players' coach in Pittsburgh and was generally considered among the league's top assistants after capturing back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Penguins. The Coyotes top three lines look like the following: Max Domi-Derek Stepan-Brendan Perlini, Clayton Keller-Christian Dvorak-Tobias Rieder and Dylan Strome-Brad Richardson-Anthony Duclair. Antti Raanta is more than ready to take on the added responsibility of being the #1 goaltender and if he’s as good as projected, the Coyotes are not going to be an easy out this year. We’ll put that to the test right off the bat.
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Arizona +150 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.00)