The Hunter’s Week Ahead – 21 Oct
Tips, Tricks, Picks and Odds.
This is the best week of the year in American sports.
Every year, for a single week, the stars seem to align in a perfect symphony of American sporting goodness and, if only for a brief moment, the “big-four” American sports play out in unison. This week, the NBA gets underway, the MLB wraps up and the NHL and NFL storm onwards. With so much to keep track of, you’re lucky that I’ve done the hard work for you and have picked out the best of the best for the week ahead.
As always in this column, I’ll explore what Australians can look forward to in this week of sports – focusing on a different sport for each day – and provide the tips that I feel most confident in based on my research, analysis and expert intuition.
Tuesday – NHL
Starting off in the NHL, where two of last season’s best teams meet in a game that could set the tone for the coming season. The reigning champion St. Louis Blues host the title-hopeful Colorado Avalanche for a game that I’m sure is going to be an absolute thriller.
St. Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche
After a heart-wrenching overtime loss to the Capitals in game one of the season, the Blues put together a decent three-win streak, before being derailed by a four-game losing streak (two in OT) that saw their title defence off to a shaky start. They’ll be desperate to get their season back on track – but know that if it’s anything like last season, they won’t have to start playing well until January. The Blues always play well against Colorado, having won the last four straight, so will be hoping to pull off another win here to get their campaign up and running and not have to rely on another post-all-star miracle.
Of course, the Avalanche won’t go gently. They look a really competitive team this season and have started in hot form, claiming seven wins and only one loss (in OT at Pittsburgh). A win against the reigning champions will show that Avalanche are serious about going all the way this season, and I think they can pull it off.
I’m going to make this tip based on form alone, and side with Colorado to get the win against St. Louis. They’ve looked the better team all season (albeit the season still being young) and will be serious contenders for the Stanley Cup come playoffs.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Avalanche to Win
Wednesday – MLB World Series
It all ends here. After the longest and most gruelling season in professional sports, the NL and AL’s best will duke it out for ultimate baseball supremacy, and what a series it’s shaping up to be. On one side are a team that everyone expected to be here, on the other is a team that I didn’t even think would make the postseason – this one’s going to be interesting.
Houston Astros v Washington Nationals
What’s funny is, despite looking the slightly worse team on paper, the Nationals have had a far cruisier run to where they are now. After a close wildcard victory over Milwaukee, they shocked the Dodgers in game five to move to the National League Championship Series, where they swept the Cardinals – earning themselves a few days’ rest before they fight for it all.
Houston, on the other hand, looked far shakier. After taking all five games to beat the Rays, they were lucky to come out of the American League Championship Series with the win (especially after blowing home advantage with a 7-0 loss in game one). Twice they relied on walk-offs to finish the Yankees, and are going to have to bring their A-game to avoid the same thing happening here.
The Nationals are obviously going to want this more. Realistically, they shouldn’t even be here. Losing Bryce Harper in the winter was thought to be a debilitating development by many pundits, yet they pulled through (even with a woeful start to the season) and are sitting four wins away from a world series. I’d love to see them take it all.
With that being said, I think the Astros will take game one. They’re playing in an American League park so get to use a DH (something the Nats won’t be used to), and with the Houston fans around them – it’ll be too much for the Nationals to handle (even well-rested). I’m keen to see how the rest of this series goes.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Astros to Win
Thursday – NBA
And the NBA is back!
After what seemed like an eternity, with world cups, exhibition matches and trades galore, the NBA is finally returning to our screens. On Thursday, the first three games of the season kick-off, and I’m most excited by the matchup between two postseason locks. But honestly, I’m so grateful to have basketball back in my life (shout out to the NBL too).
Portland Trailblazers v Denver Nuggets
Dame Dolla’s Portland host Jokic and the Nuggets in their season opener on Thursday and both teams will be eager to start off their campaign on the right foot. In a year that’ll be defined by the power-duos (Westbrook/Harden, Lebron/AD, Kyrie/KD, Leonard/George), Portland are a team that’ll need to pull something special out of the bag to have as good a run as last year.
I’ll keep this one short because in the coming weeks there’s going to be more NBA than you can handle in my upcoming pieces. Portland are a good team, but the Nuggets are a team that I can see going much further this season. Denver should claim this.
The Hunter’s Hot Tip: Denver to Win