Ben Burns NHL Money Lines Picks
|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|03-25-13||Detroit Red Wings v. Phoenix Coyotes -120||3-2||Loss||-120||15 h 54 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. While the Wings come in as the hotter team, I like how this one sets up for the Coyotes.
If you follow my NHL picks, then you already know that the Wings played at Anaheim last night, earning a 2-1 win. That was their second straight win over the Ducks. In addition to playing the second of back-to-back games, they'll be playing their third game in the past four days here.
True, the Wings have been "respectable" (4-3) when playing the second of back-to-back games. Still, its not an ideal situation.
On the other hand, the Coyotes have had the past few days off. That's not always an ideal situation either. However, in the Coyotes' case, I believe the time off came at a great time. That's because the Coyotes were off a winless road trip and then had proceeded to lose their first game back home. (In fairness, that can be a challenging spot.) Knowing that they're back on the road again after tonight, this game becomes even more critical.
That's even more true given that the Coyotes are currently 12th in the west (3 points behind the 8th place team) and that they're 3-11 (3-8-3) on the road but 10-7 (10-6-1) at home.
Even with a few recent wins, the Wings are still below .500 (7-8) on the road.
While the Wings are 8-15 (-6.6) the past couple of seasons, when playing a road game with an O/U line of 5 or less, the Coyotes are 31-24 (+1.6) when playing a home game with an O/U line of 5 or less.
The Wings have had success in the series overall but the Coyotes won the last meeting here. I expect them to be a little hungrier tonight and for them to step up and earn a much needed two points. 10* personal favorite
|03-24-13||Washington Capitals v. NY Rangers -152||3-2||Loss||-152||10 h 51 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY RANGERS. The Capitals recently had their way with the Winnipeg Jets. This is an entirely different opponent though, one which has given them fits. I expect the Caps, 24-29 (-11) the past few seasons off a win by two or more goals, to come back to earth here.
The Rangers are off a 3-1 loss on Thursday. They didn't play badly though. As captain Ryan Callahan noted: "We'd be concerned if we weren't getting the chances. We had 40-something shots. You get those chances on a nightly basis, you're going to get more than one goal easily.''
The Rangers are 56-28 (+16.3) against teams with a losing record the past few seasons. During that stretch, they're also 31-15 (+13) when playing with two day's rest in between games. I expect a highly motivated Rangers squad to move to 3-0 in the season series. 8*
|03-23-13||Columbus Blue Jackets v. Nashville Predators -148||2-5||Win||100||15 h 32 m||Show|
I'm playing on NASHVILLE. I won with the Predators in their last game and I feel that this will be another good spot to back them.
Give the Blue Jackets some credit. They were the worst team in the league last year and proceeded to lose their best player. They started off horribly again this season. However, they've been working hard and have fought all the way back to the point that they're in contention for a playoff spot.
That said, this is a tough situation for them. While the Jackets are off a win vs. Calgary last night, the Preds had last night off.
The secret of the Jackets' success has been to outwork their opponents. That's harder to do when in a b2b situation though. Note that they're 2-4 (-0.8) in that situation this season and 13-27 (-7.7) their last 40 in that situation.
During that stretch, they're also 14-26 (-8.9) in that situation.
The Jackets are also a dismal 19-42 (-15) vs. divisional opponents the past few seasons. During that period, the Preds are 35-26 (+11.6) in divisional games.
The Preds, who play with "double-revenge," are 52-42 (+14.5) the past few seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. They're also 29-6-1 the last 36 times that they were a host in the series. Its payback time. 8* personal favorite
|03-21-13||CAL FLAMES v. NASH PREDATORS -135||3-5||Win||100||17 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on NASHVILLE. After a tough road trip, which included a loss at Calgary, the Predators should be thrilled to return home. They're now desperate for points and they've got a score to settle. I expect them to bounce back with an important win.
Home ice means a lot to both of these teams. Here at Nashville, the Preds are outscoring teams by a 2.5 to 1.9 margin. On the other hand, the Flames are getting outscored by an average of 3.6 to 2.2 on the road.
The Preds won by scores of 5-3 and 2-1 the last two times that they were hosts in this series. They're 51-42 (+13.5) the past few seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. I expect them to improve on those stats here. 8* annihilator
|03-20-13||Minnesota Wild v. Detroit Red Wings -134||4-2||Loss||-134||19 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. The Wild have won three straight, while the Red Wings have won two in a row. Playing on home ice, I expect the Wings, 41-24 the last 65 times that they were off a win by two or more goals, to be the team which keeps its streak in tact.
These teams have faced each other twice this season. The home team won both those games. The Wings won 5-3 at Detroit back in January. A few weeks later, when playing at Minnesota, the Wild returned the favor with a 3-2 victory.
Including this season's win here, the Wings are 16-6-1 the last 23 times that they were a host in this series.
While the Wild often get to three straight wins, getting that fourth is often a challenge for them. They're 44-56 (-13.1) the last 100 times that they were off three straight wins, 9-11 their last 20 in that situation.
The well-rested Wings are 94-52 (+17.3) over the years, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games, going 12-6 (+3.8) their last 18 in that situation. I expect them to take care of business again this evening. 9* personal favorite
|03-19-13||St Louis Blues v. Vancouver Canucks -120||2-3||Win||100||16 h 19 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. I played the Canucks last night in their loss to Minnesota, and while I was not pleased with the outcome, I feel that the Canucks played hard in losing effort, and were unfortunate to have come away without any points. Vancouver out-shot the Wild 36-25, and they scored the game's first goal on the power-play.
The level of desperation for this Vancouver team just gets greater by the day, as they are now just two points up on San Jose, who occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Canucks are in serious danger of missing the post-season all together. That would be unthinkable for a franchise that has led the league in points for the past two years, and was just one game away from hoisting it's first Stanley Cup just two seasons ago.
The St. Louis Blues are in town tonight, and they will have fond memories of their last visit to Rogers Arena. The Canucks will seek to avenge a 4-3 shootout loss to the Blues in Vancouver last month. Vancouver took both meetings last year, including a 2-0 shutout win at home.
St. Louis is coming off three straight wins at home, and the Blues have won five of six overall. They might be set to experience a let down, coming into a hostile environment against a desperate hockey club in the first game of this road trip. I expect the Canucks to carry the play, and bring a level of intensity that the Blues will be unable to match. 9*
|03-18-13||Minnesota Wild v. Vancouver Canucks -151||3-1||Loss||-151||31 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. The Canucks recently lost at Minnesota. Tonight, they get to face the Wild at Vancouver. I expect them to get some payback.
The Canucks have dominated the Wild here for years. In fact, a 2-1 victory last month brought them to 11-0 the last 11 times that they were a host in this series.
A closer look at those games here at Vancouver show that the Canucks were much larger favorites than they are here. In fact, they were laying at least -200 in each of the last nine meetings, including about -230 in last month's meeting here. By comparison, tonight's price is a bargain.
The Canucks are typically at their best, when facing a team which defeated them in the previous meeting. They're 9-4 their last 13 in that situation and 55-27 (+12.3) the past few seasons. During that stretch, they're a dominating 42-15 (+15.3) against divisional opponents. I expect them to take care of business, once again. 7*
|03-18-13||Calgary Flames v. Dallas Stars -130||3-4||Win||100||30 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on DALLAS. While the Flames come in as the "hotter" team, I expect the Stars to be the "hungrier" team. I expect that to lead to an important two points.
The Stars got embarrassed last time out, getting crushed 8-1 by Chicago. Throw in the fact that they're 0-2 against the Flames this season and that they've lost four straight overall - and we should be able to expect a highly motivated effort.
Dallas' Jamie Benn said this of the Stars' last game: " ... it's unacceptable. We need to do something within this room to change that. It's an unacceptable effort. Chicago gave us a wakeup call.''
While Calgary is off back-to-back impressive wins, both those came at home. The Flames have now won six straight at home. However, they've lost six straight on the road, getting outscored 24-8.
While the Flames, who are without their #1 goalie here, are 23-40 (-20.2) the last 63 times that they were off a game in which they scored four or more goals, the Stars are 34-28 (+7) after allowing four or more. I expect their best effort. 8*
|03-18-13||Carolina Hurricanes v. NY Rangers -140||1-2||Win||100||28 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK RANGERS. Both teams should be hungry here. The Canes have lost two straight while the Rangers have lost three in a row. With tonight's game being played at MSG, I expect the Rangers to have the edge.
While the Hurricanes are still only 21-23 (-1.4) the past few seasons, off a loss by two or more goals - the Rangers are 31-20 (+7.1) in that situation. During the same span, they're 6-4 (+2.3) off three or more consecutive defeats.
The Rangers are 3-0 the last three times that they hosted the Canes. They won those games by a combined score of 11-4. Going back further finds them at 13-6 with one tie, the last 20 times that they were a host in this series, 20-10-1 the last 31. Carolina has scored two or fewer goals in 15 of its last 20 visits here.
Note that Carolina, still playing without its #1 goalie, has allowed three or more goals in five of its last six games. The Rangers have allowed three or less in nine straight. They need this game more than the Canes do and I expect them to continue their domination on home ice in the series. 8*
|03-16-13||Winnipeg Jets v. Toronto Maple Leafs -132||Top||5-4||Loss||-132||11 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on TORONTO. The Jets come in as the "hotter" team. However, I expect the Leafs to be the more "desperate" team this evening and for that to translate to a badly needed two points.
These teams just met at Winnipeg a few days ago. The Jets won that one by a score of 5-2.
Including that setback, the Leafs have now dropped four straight. That should ensure an extremely motivated effort here. Remember, its a short season and teams simply can't afford extended losing streaks.
The Leafs have been at their best in this situation. They're 5-3 off a loss by two ore more goals this season and they're 3-1 (+2.9) after scoring one or less. They're also still a respectable 15-13 (+1.2) the past couple of seasons, after losing three or more consecutive games, 67-60 (+11) their last 100+ in that in situation. During that stretch, they are 158-132 (+24.8) after scoring one goal or less and 194-181 (+21.2) ater a loss by two or more. When compared to their poor overall numbers over that period, those stats look even better.
Saturday nights are still a big deal in Canada - hockey night in Canada. And the Jets typically don't fare too well under the "bright lights." They're 1-3 their last four Saturday games and 7-16 (-9.8) their last 23.
The Leafs are 3-1 their last four as a host in this series and 14-8-1 their last 23. I expect their best effort here. 10* personal favorite
|03-16-13||Ottawa Senators v. Buffalo Sabres -120||4-3||Loss||-120||11 h 40 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. The Sabres got back on track last time out, knocking off a good Rangers team. I expect them to carry that momentum into this afternoon's contest.
These teams have faced each other twice this season, Ottawa winning each of them. Both those meetings were in early February though and both were played in Canada.
The Sabres finally get a chance to face the Sens on home ice this time around - and they'll catch an Ottawa team which is no longer playing as well as it was last month. Indeed, the Sens are off back-to-back losses and are now just 1-6 their last seven.
Goalie Craig Anderson was it net for both the earlier meetings for Ottawa. However, he's now out; the Sens have allowed an average of three goals per game their last seven. They gave up at least two goals in every one of the games. He's just one of many injured Senator plays, a long list headed by the likes of Spezza and Karlsson, a pair of "star" players.
The well-rested Sabres are 11-8 (+3.1) the past few seasons, when playing with three or more day's rest in between games, going a profitable 94-69 (+10.5) their last 150+ in that situation.
Even including the earlier wins, the Sens are only 21-38 (-17.1) against divisional opponents the past few seasons. During that stretch, the Sabres are 32-26 (+5) against divisional foes. Its "payback time" on Saturday afternoon. 9* annihilator
|03-14-13||Nashville Predators v. Vancouver Canucks -154||4-7||Win||100||17 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. The Canucks got back on track with a much needed victory last time out. I expect the defending President Trophy champs to follow it up with another win tonight.
The Predators are off a 4-0 shutout win. That doesn't mean that they'll follow it up with another victory though. They just won 6-0 a few games ago and lost their next game by a score of 2-1. They're 1-3 on the season off a shutout win and 1-4 after winning by two or more goals.
Having lost 1-0 vs. the Canucks at Nashville earlier, note that the Preds are also only 17-26 (-6.5) the past couple of seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier home loss.
While the Preds are being outscored by a 2.9 to 2.0 margin on the road, the Canucks are outscoring teams by an average score of 2.9 to 2.7 here at Vancouver. This is still a strong and well-coached team. They've been laying a higher price each of the last eight times that they were a host in this series. By comparison, I feel tonight's line is reasonable. 7*
|03-14-13||NY Islanders v. Tampa Bay Lightning -112||2-0||Loss||-112||15 h 43 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA. The Islanders won the earlier meeting, at Long Island. I expect the Lightning to avenge that loss tonight.
With an O/U line of six, this is expected to be a high-scoring contest. That suits the Lightning just fine. They're 15-3 (+11.2) the past few seasons, when playing a home game with an O/U line of six or more.
The Isles have only played one game with an O/U line of six all season. That was last time out and they lost 6-1.
The fact that they've had some time off to recover from that beating isn't necessarily a good thing either. In fact, they're only 3-12 (-8.5) the last 15 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games. During that stretch, the Isles are also a money-burning 24-50 (-20) after allowing four or more goals in their previous game.
The last meeting here at Tampa saw the Lightning come out on top by a score of 4-3. I feel that they've got a great shot at another victory here and feel that a price practically in the "pick'em range" is offering excellent value. 8*
|03-12-13||Vancouver Canucks -144 v. Columbus Blue Jackets||2-1||Win||100||10 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. The Blue Jackets may be the hotter team. However, the Canucks are still the much better team. Desperate for points and playing with recent "revenge," I expect them to prove it this evening.
While the Blue Jackets have been catching some breaks and playing hard lately, it should be noted that they're missing a few key regulars from their lineup.
The Canucks, who lost at Columbus this past Thursday, are typically at their best when attempting to avenge an earlier loss. In fact, they're 8-3 (+3.8) their last 11 in that situation, going an outstanding 54-26 (+13.2) their last 80 in that situation.
I expect an extremely motivated effort to lead to a very important two points. 8* personal favorite
|03-10-13||Winnipeg Jets v. New Jersey Devils -127||2-3||Win||100||12 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. Daylight savings snuck up on me and has me running a bit short on time today. As a result, my writeups may be a little more brief than usual. Rest assured. the same amount of time was spent researching the plays, as always.
The Devils should have no shortage of motivation here. Not only are they desperate to get back on track, they're also playing with "double-revenge." Despite losing both this season's meetings, they're still 13-7 the last 20 against the Jets/Thrashers, 5-1 the last six at New Jersey.
The Jets are playing the final leg of a 4-game road trip and have a home game vs. rival Toronto on deck. Note that even with a few wins in that situation this season, they're still only 7-12 (-4.6) since moving to Winnipeg, after playing three or more consecutive road games.
True, the Devils played yesterday, while the Jets did not. They're a respectable 21-19 (+3.2) their last 40 in that situation though, despite a few recent losses. They get the next couple of days off and I expect their "desperation" to help in overcoming any possible fatigue.
I'm not writing off the Devils yet and I say its "payback time" tonight. 9* personal favorite
|03-10-13||Columbus Blue Jackets v. Detroit Red Wings -178||3-2||Loss||-178||10 h 14 m||Show|
I'm playing on DETROIT. Daylight savings snuck up on me and has me running a bit short on time today. As a result, my writeups may be a little more brief than usual. Rest assured. the same amount of time was spent researching the plays, as always.
I haven't played too many large favorites this season. However, I won't hesitate to do so, when I feel that the price could/should be higher and when I believe that my team has a very strong chance of coming out on top. This one fits the bill.
The Jackets are actually on a bit of a roll these days and they beat the Wings by a 3-0 score at Columbus yesterday. The Wings are still the superior team though and now they're playing at their home rink. Yesterday's shutout loss should ensure the Jackets get their full attention today. In fact, the Jackets have now beaten the Wings three straight times. I expect to see a VERY DETERMINED Detroit team.
As noted, both teams played yesterday. That should work in Detroit's favor too. The Jackets are an ugly 12-27 (-9.3) the past few seasons, when playing the second of back-to-back games. 1-4 (-2.4) their last five. On the other hand, the Wings are a respectable 20-13 (+6.6) when playing the second of b2b games, 3-2 (+1.2) their last five in that situation.
While the Wings are a modestly profitable 8-6 (+1.8) when playing with "revenge," they're a perfect 6-0 (+7.3) on the season, after scoring one goal or less, in their previous game.
The Wings are still a commanding 29-8 the last 37 times that they were a host in this series. I expect them to improve on those stats in convincing fashion here. 7* blue marlin
|03-09-13||MON CANADIENS v. TB LIGHTNING -104||Top||4-3||Loss||-104||13 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. The Canadiens are off to a great start to the season and they already beat the Lightning once. The Lightning are arguably still the more talented team though, at least in my opinion. In this case, I also expect them to be a little more hungry than their guests.
The Canadiens did have yesterday off. However, they're playing the fourth leg of a 5-game road trip. They're 7-10 (-4) the past couple of seasons, after playing their previous three or more games on the road.
While the Habs are outscoring opponents by a solid 3.1 to 2.7 margin on the road, the Lightning are outscoring teams by a wider 3.8 to 2.8 margin at home.
While the Canadiens are off an impressive 4-2 victory, that came against a Carolina team which was without its #1 goalie and which doesn't have the type of firepower that the Lightning do on offense.
Note that Montreal hasn't won back-to-back games in weeks. Each of the Canadiens last four victories has been followed by a loss. Its also worth mentioning that Montreal is 21-30 (-10.9) the past couple of seasons, after scoring four or more goals.
Additionally, it should be noted that the Lightning were favored in the -130 to -135 range for last month's game here and that we're getting much better value here.
Prior to last month's loss here, the Lightning were 4-1 their previous five games as as host in this series. I expect them to avenge last month's loss, earning the valuable two points along the way. 10* best bet.
|03-07-13||Winnipeg Jets v. Tampa Bay Lightning -130||Top||2-1||Loss||-130||29 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. The Lightning snapped their losing streak in a big way last time out, knocking off New Jersey by a score of 5-2. Now with some positive momentum and facing a team they match up well against, I expect them to string together consecutive victories.
These teams met once earlier this season. The Lightning dominated, winning 8-3. That brought them to 3-0 their last three against the Jets. Going back further and we find the Lightning at a commanding 15-3 the last 18 in the series, dating back to when the Jets were the Thrashers and playing out of Atlanta.
A look back at the earlier meeting shows that the Lightning were laying a price of -200. With that game being played on 2/1, that was only about five weeks ago. Yet, now we're getting them at a significantly reduced rate. I feel that's providing us with very fair value. *10 personal favorite
|03-05-13||Philadelphia Flyers v. NY Rangers -147||2-4||Win||100||13 h 36 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW YORK. Both these teams have started to get back on track recently. Each are off back-to-back victories. With this game being played at MSG, I feel that the Rangers will be the team which extends its winning streak.
This will be the third meeting of the season already. The first game was played at Philadelphia, the Flyers winning by a 2-1 score. They faced each other a few days later, here at NY, and the the Rangers returned the favor, matching the Flyers with a 2-1 victory of their own.
With that win, the Rangers are a dominating 9-1 the last 10 meetings in this series, 5-0 the last five at MSG. They won those five games by a combined score of 20-5.
This season, the Rangers are 8-5 at home, outscoring teams by a 3.0 to 2.5 margin here, outshooting them by a 33-27.2 margin.
Conversely, the Flyers are 4-8 on the road, getting outscored 3.3 to 2.9.
Throw in the fact that the Rangers are also healthier and I feel this price is more than fair. 8* personal favorite
|03-02-13||Nashville Predators v. San Jose Sharks -140||1-2||Win||100||19 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE. The Sharks came up a little short last time out, costing me in the process. However, I had won with them in their previous game and I'm willing to give them another shot here.
The Sharks should have no shortage of motivation. There are rumblings that their coach is on the hot seat, they're desperate to get back on track and into the playoff race AND they're playing with "double-revenge," having already been beaten by the Predators twice this season.
San Jose figures to be catching Nashville at the right time. The normally stingy Preds have given up four or more goals in three straight games and they're only 2-5 their last seven. During that stretch, they've given up 26 goals, nearly four per game.
Even with the loss here last month, the Sharks are still 20-10-1 the last 31 times that they hosted the Preds. They were laying -185 the last meeting here. We're getting a much better price to work with here and I believe that's providing very fair value. *8
|03-02-13||Los Angeles Kings v. Vancouver Canucks -125||Top||2-5||Win||100||19 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. I've been riding the Kings of late. So, I'm well aware that they've been playing well and are on a winning streak. That doesn't mean that I'm not willing to go against them though.
Tonight, the defending Stanley Cup champs are walking into a hornet's next. They'll be taking on the 2-time defending "President Trophy" (league's best regular season) team, one is well rested and one which has tons of motivation.
Note that LA has a losing record (5-6) on the road this season and that the Kings are only 2-3 (-2) when playing with two day's rest in between games.
The Canucks were thinking Stanley Cup last season. They might have done it too, if not for getting matched up against the Kings. Needless to say, they haven't forgotten. Adding fuel to the fire, the Canucks also lost at LA early this season.
This is their first shot at the Kings here at Vancouver though, a game Canucks' players and fans have had circled since the schedule was released. Note that Vancouver is an outstanding 53-25 (+13.6) the past few seasons, when attempting to avenge an earlier loss, 7-2 (+4.2) their last nine in that situation.
During that stretch, the Canucks are also a commanding 13-3 (+7.8) when playing with three day's rest in between games. I believe the price is reasonable and I say its payback time for the highly motivated and well-coached Canucks. 10* personal favorite
|03-02-13||ANA DUCKS v. PHO COYOTES -116||4-5||Win||100||17 h 10 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. The Ducks have been one of this year's biggest surprises. After a dismal season last year, they're one of this season's top teams. That said, I feel that they're in a tough spot.
The Ducks jumped out to a lead over the Wild last night and managed to hang on for a 3-2 win. They're only 99-126 (-23.2) the last 200+ times that they played the second of b2b games though and tonight they'll be taking on a rested Coyotes team, one which is arguably better than many are giving them credit for.
The Coyotes lost a tough one (5-4 vs. Wild) on Thursday. That was their first game back off a road trip though, one which concluded with a win at Vancouver, which can be a tough spot. They'd won their previous two home games by a combined score of 9-3.
The Coyotes are already 5-2 (+3.9) after allowing four or more goals. They beat the Ducks 4-0 the last time they faced them, (last March) a game that they were laying -170 for. Now, despite having the schedule in their favor, we're getting them in the pick'em range. I feel that's providing excellent value and I expect them to scratch and claw their way to an important two points. *9
|03-01-13||EDM OILERS v. STL BLUES -162||2-4||Win||100||13 h 12 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. Both teams played last night. The Oilers scored an upset win at Dallas. The Blues were beaten by Chicago.
The Blues are 1-0 this season, when playing a home game after playing the previous day. They've won four of six, since last season, when playing the second of b2b games. Unlike the Oilers, they didn't have to travel last night. The fact that they lost should make them extra "hungry" here.
The Blues are 5-0 the last five times that they were a host in this series. They outscored the Oilers by a 16-7 margin in those games. Last night notwithstanding, I feel the Blues are still the stronger team. I expect them to demonstrate that fact in convincing fashion here. *6
|02-28-13||DET RED WINGS v. SJ SHARKS -168||2-1||Loss||-168||11 h 56 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE. I successfully played against the Wings last night. I feel that this will be another good spot to do so.
While the Sharks had last night off, the Wings were off a heart-breaker at LA. They had a 1-0 lead into the third period but lost 2-.
As I pointed out last night, the Wings haven't been nearly as good on the road as they've been at home. In fact, with last night's loss, they're now 2-6 away from Detroit, getting outscored by a 3.1 to 2.2 average margin in those games.
On the other hand, the Sharks are 6-3 at home, outscoring opponents by a 2.9 to 2.0 margin here.
The Sharks are 6-2 the last few seasons, when hosting the Wings. They got back on track last time out and I look for them to follow it up with another win tonight. *7
|02-28-13||TOR MAPLE LEAFS v. NY Islanders -130||5-4||Loss||-130||14 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK ISLANDERS. The Isles knocked off the Leafs by a score of 7-4 when the teams met at Toronto last month. With the schedule in their favor and tonight's rematch being played at Long Island, I expect the Isles to have the advantage once again.
While the Isles had yesterday off, the Leafs were busy losing vs. arch-rival Montreal. The last time that they played the second of back-to-back games, the Leafs lost 4-2 at Tampa. Including that setback, they're just 12-22 (-6.9) the last 2+ seasons, when playing the second of back-to-back games.
I expect the Isles to have the fresher legs and I look for them to come away with the important two points. *9
|02-27-13||DET RED WINGS v. LA KINGS -159||Top||1-2||Win||100||13 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA KINGS. The Kings weren't the best team during the regular season last year. However, they caught fire at the right time and went on a huge winning streak when it counted, en route to winning their first Stanley Cup. Don't look now but, after a bit of a slow start, the champs have that look to them again.
Last time out, facing a red hot Anaheim squad, the Kings avenged an earlier loss with a 5-2 victory. That was their fourth straight victory and sixth win in their last seven games. (The lone loss came on the road, vs. a Chicago team which is currently setting records.)
Once again, the Kings find themselves in the "revenge" role. This time, its the Red Wings, a team which defeated them 3-2 at Detroit about 2.5 weeks ago. A closer look at that 2/10 meeting shows that the Kings actually outshot the Wings by a 47-31 margin.
Tonight's rematch is at LA, which is certainly significant. That's primarily because the Wings haven't been nearly as good away from Detroit this season. In fact, they're only 2-5 on the road and they've been outscored by a 3.3 to 2.4 margin in those games. The fact that they're dealing with several injuries hasn't helped matters. Note that the Kings won 5-2 the last time that they were a host in the series.
Including that 5-2 loss here last March, the Wings are an ugly 5-13 (-8.7) the past few seasons, when playing a road game with an O/U line of five or less.
I expect the surging Kings to keep on rolling for another day, improving to 41-24 (+11.5) the last 65 times that they were off a win or greater than a goal. 10* personal favorite
|02-26-13||Colorado Avalanche v. San Jose Sharks -162||2-3||Win||100||15 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE. The Sharks are fairly heavy favorites here. However, given the talent gap between these teams, I feel that the price could actually be even higher.
These teams met once this season. The Sharks dominated that 1/26 meeting, winning by a score of 4-0. They outshot the Avs by a 43-24 margin.
Naturally, the Avs would like to avenge that loss. That's often easier said than done for this team though. In fact, Colorado is only 42-66 (-24.2) when playing with "revenge" the past few seasons.
The previous meeting here (last March) saw the Sharks win by a 5-1 score. Including those victories, the Sharks are 5-0 as a host in the series the past few seasons. Desperate to get back on track, I expect this talented team to get back on track, continuing its home ice dominance in the series. *6
|02-26-13||CAL FLAMES v. MIN WILD -142||1-2||Win||100||12 h 20 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. These teams faced each other at Calgary a few nights ago. The Flames won that one and then proceeded to beat Phoenix the following night. The Wild haven't played since. With tonight's rematch being played at Minnesota, I expect the revenge-minded and well-rested Wild to get some payback.
While the Flames won 5-4 on Sunday, they're an ugly 20-38 (-21.2) the past few seasons, after scoring four or more goals in their previous game. That includes a 1-5 (-4.7) mark in that situation the past few seasons.
With the Flames averaging 2.5 gpg on the road and the Wild allowing only 2.2 here at home, I feel that its unlikely we see another offensive outburst from Calgary tonight.
Note that Calgary is still without its #1 goalie.
While the Wild struggle on the road, they're 6-2-1 here at Minnesota. They beat the Flames the last time the teams met here and I expect them to do do again here. *8
|02-26-13||CAR HURRICANES v. WAS CAPITALS -128||0-3||Win||100||11 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on WASHINGTON. Both these teams will be hungry here. Not only are they division rivals but former Capital Alexander Semin is now with Carolina and will now be up against his old team. With the game being played at Washington, expect the Caps to have the advantage.
Undoubtedly, Semin would love to stick it to his old team. That's probably more true than ever since Washington's Troy Brouwer recently publicly questioned Semin's effort, over his time in Washington.
Still, Semin is only one player - and the entire Capital team should be motivated to prevent their former teammate from rolling into town and showing them up.
That includes Washington's Alexander Ovechkin, a friend of Semin's. Ovechkin, considered to be among the top two or three players in the world only a couple of years ago, looked like his old self last time out, recording a hat trick. (The Caps won 5-1.) He's been a bit streaky over his career and I expect him to build some momentum from his effort last game.
The Canes are off a 4-2 win at Long Island on Sunday. However, they'd previously lost three straight and they're a money-burning 14-29 (-15.6) the past few seasons, after a win by two or more goals.
During that stretch, the Caps are 31-22 (+3.1) after scoring four or more goals in their previous game. The Caps, who are trailing Carolina in the division, need this game more and I expect them to improve to 28-14-2 the last 44 times that they were a host in the series. *8
|02-25-13||ANA DUCKS v. LA KINGS -143||Top||2-5||Win||100||13 h 41 m||Show|
I'm playing on the LA KINGS. The Ducks have arguably been the biggest over-achivers so far this season. Give them credit for playing well. That said, they're in a tough spot here and I expect them to stumble.
While the Ducks have been playing well all season, the Kings are starting to also play very well. In fact, they've won three straight and five of their last six. The lone loss came at Chicago - against a Blackhawks team which is currently setting records. They allowed only a single goal in all five of those wins and each of the victories in their current 3-game streak has come by multiple goals.
While the defending champs had last night off, the Ducks are off an OT game last night. They've played well in that situation so far this season but that still doesn't mean that its ideal.
The Kings are 39-24 (+9.5) the past few seasons, when off a win by two or more goals. Playing with revenge from a blowout loss at Anaheim, I expect the champs to rise to the occasion, making a statement that they're still the top team in their state. *10 personal favorite
|02-24-13||WINNIPEG JETS v. NJ DEVILS -158||4-2||Loss||-158||9 h 31 m||Show|
I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. Both these teams were in action yesterday afternoon. The Devils lost 5-1 at Washington. The Jets coughed up a lead at Philadelphia, losing 5-3. I expect that scheduling situation to favor the Devils.
Despite suffering a loss the last time it was in that situation, New Jersey is an impressive 10-3 the last 13 times that it played the second of back-to-back games.
On the other hand, the Jets are an ugly 3-12 the last 15 times that they played the second of back-to-back games, 2-11 when doing so on the road.
The Devils have dominated the Jets. They're 6-1 the last seven in this series and 15-5 the last 20. That includes a 5-0 mark at New Jersey. The most recent meeting resulted in a 5-1 NJ victory. All signs point to more of the same here. *7 personal favorite
|02-23-13||Columbus Blue Jackets v. St Louis Blues -222||1-2||Win||100||10 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on ST. LOUIS. At first glance, this line seems pretty high. I feel that it could easily be even higher though.
Keep in mind that the Blues are laying -200 a few weeks ago at Columbus (they won 4-1) and that now they're back home at St. Louis. They're 25-9-1 against Jackets here.
Note that the Jackets are currently getting outscored by an average score of 3.2 to 1.9 on the road, getting outshot 30.7 to 23.7 in those games. On the other hand, the Blues are outshooting teams by a 29 to 20.2 average margin here at St. Louis.
Off back to back losses, the Blues should be extremely motivated here. They're a team which tends to take care of business against bad teams, going 43-26 (+4.9) against losing teams the past couple of seasons. On the other hand, the Jackets are a dismal 27-62 (-22.9) against winning teams, during the same period.
Add it all up and I expect a solid victory for the home team. *6 blue marlin
|02-23-13||NY Islanders v. BUFF SABRES -120||Top||4-0||Loss||-120||23 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. Its been a tough stretch for the Sabres. That led to the dismissal of long-time coach Lindy Ruff. The shake-up wasn't enough to snap the Sabres' funk, as they lost their first game under interim coach Ron Rolston. Coaching changes to typically provide a spark to NHL teams though, if only temporarily. Playing at home against a team they know they can beat, I expect the Sabres to rise to the occasion and to stop the bleeding.
Buffalo forward Tyler Ennis said this of the coaching move: "It's a change that if we're playing better doesn't happen, but we're moving forward. I think (Rolston's) a great coach. We just have to get some wins."
"Coach" Rolston added: "Most importantly, we need to generate more shots, more scoring chances. We've got to shoot and get more traffic in front. We've got the guys back there on defense who can really shoot it. If we can establish that, it should really open things up for us.''
Facing an Islander team which allows nearly 3.5 goals per game on the road (and more than 33 shots) should help in that area.
Miller sparkled in goal for the Sabres when they beat the Islanders at Long Island. He's got a stellar 1.95 GAA his last three games against them.
While the Isles would surely love to avenge that loss, note that they're only 35-69 the last 100+ times they faced a team which defeated them in the previous meeting.
The Sabres are 11-8 (+2.7) the past couple of seasons, when off three or more consecutive victories. I look for them to step up and get Rolston a win. *9 personal favorite
|02-20-13||PHI FLYERS v. PITT PENGUINS -154||6-5||Loss||-154||15 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Penguins already won at Philadelphia earlier this season. However, they still haven't forgotten that it was their instate rivals who knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Well-rested, healthy and playing great hockey, I expect the Pens to take care of business again today.
The Pens check in off three straight victories. Known for their potent offense, the Pens are also sound defensively and between the pipes. In fact, they have now allowed three or fewer goals in 10 straight games, allowing an average of exactly 2.0 goals per game, during that stretch. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is now 6-1 with a 2.01 goals-against average in his last seven starts.
That should spell some trouble for a Flyers team which is averaging only 2.6 gpg on the road, while permitting 3.2. Note that those numbers were a lot worse before a 7-0 win at Long Island last time out. (Prior to that game, the Flyers were being outscored by an average of 3.5 to 2.2 away from Philadelphia.)
Even with Monday's win, the Flyers are still just 3-8 on the road. Note that they're also only 25-31 (-19.3) the past couple of seasons, off a win by two or goals. Playing the final game of a 6-game road trip, still dealing with significant injury issues, stepping up in class and with a home game on deck tomorrow, I expect them to struggle here.
The Pens are loaded with talent and Sidney Crosby is again playing like he's the best player in the world. They're 24-11 (+9.4) the last 35 times that they played with two day's rest in between games and I look for them to keep on rolling for another day. *7 personal favorite
|02-19-13||TOR MAPLE LEAFS v. TB LIGHTNING -147||2-4||Win||100||13 h 28 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. The Leafs have been on quite a roll of late. In fact, they're off back-to-back shutout wins and are now 6-1 their last seven. While that has fans in Toronto very excited, I expect the Leafs' streak to come to an end this evening.
The Leafs may have blanked the Panthers and the Sens. They're facing a TB team which scored six times in its last game, one which averages a whopping 4.7 gpg here at home. In other words, don't expect another shutout.
While the Lightning had the past two nights off, the Leafs played last night. Therefore its worth noting that they're only 12-21 (-5.9) the last 2+ seasons, when playing the second of b2b games.
With the O/U having climbed all the way to six, note that the Lightning are an outstanding 14-1 (+13.1) the last 15 times that they played a home game with an O/U of six or greater.
Throw in the fact that the Lightning still have a score to settle when the Leafs embarrassed them here last season and I expect a relatively convincing victory for the home team. *8 Personal Favorite
|02-18-13||CAL FLAMES v. PHO COYOTES -160||0-4||Win||100||17 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on the Phoenix Coyotes. Calgary comes limping into the desert on Monday, after playing yesterday afternoon in Dallas. The Flames came storming back in the third, scoring three unanswered goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit, winning 4-3. They might find it more difficult to come back if they fall behind against this Coyotes team. While the Flames were fortunate to take advantage of a struggling backup netminder in yesterday's game, the Coyotes have a pair of capable goalies with Jason Labarbera and Mike Smith.
Calgary on the other hand is still without Miikka Kiprusoff, and they have sent backup goalie Leyland Irving to the AHL after he failed to impress in four starts this season. That leaves Calgary with a pair of goalies that didn't even start the season with an NHL club. Joey MacDonald has allowed six goals on 51 shots over the better part of Calgary's last two games, and 26 year old Danny Taylor has only played one period in the NHL so far in his career, allowing a pair of goals.
The Coyotes have won three of their last four, and they are currently sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference, in good position to earn a playoff spot. They have a respectable 5-3-1 record in Glendale this year, and they have won four straight when coming off one day of rest.
The Flames are likely to have tired legs playing in the second leg of a back to back, and their third game in four nights. They have really struggled in these situations this season, and they have lost four in a row when playing the last game of a 3-in-4. This is only going to make it that much more difficult for Calgary to overcome a disadvantage with its unproven goaltenders. *7
|02-18-13||OTT SENATORS v. NJ DEVILS -179||2-1||Loss||-179||10 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on the New Jersey Devils. The Devils will be looking to respond to a lopsided loss to the Isles over the weekend, when they host Ottawa on Monday. The Sens are reeling after losing their two best players. Already without last season's leading scorer Jason Spezza, they lost Norris Trophy winning defenseman Erik Karlsson to a season ending Achilles injury on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. They went on to lose that game, and then lost again to the Leafs, getting shutout in a 3-0 game on Saturday.
The Sens are still one of the league's best defensive teams, allowing fewer than two goals per game, good enough to rank third in the NHL in that category. It doesn't do them any good if they can't score though, and that has been the case at times this season. Ottawa has scored just twice in their last two games, losing two in a row. Only once in their last eight games have the Sens scored more than two goals. They have been shutout three times during that span, and they have lost six of eight.
The Devils know a thing or two about playing defense themselves, they currently rank sixth in the NHL in goals against, allowing an average of 2.3 goals per game. Unlike the Senators, New Jersey doesn't have any trouble scoring goals, especially on the power-play. The Devils are converting on over 20 percent on their man-advantage opportunities this season.
Prior to their loss to the Isles on Saturday, the Devils had won six of seven, scoring at least three goals in each of those victories. They should be in a good spot to earn a win against a banged up Ottawa team that they have defeated in eight of the previous nine meetings at Prudential Center. *6
|02-16-13||Colorado Avalanche v. Edmonton Oilers -139||4-6||Win||100||14 h 59 m||Show|
I'm playing on Edmonton. The Oilers were embarrassed by the Dallas Stars in their last game, losing 4-1 at home. They have had plenty of time to think about that loss, with three days off since Tuesday. The Oilers will host Colorado tonight, and the Avs are banged up, with several key players out of the lineup due to injuries.
Colorado earned an overtime win in Minnesota in their last game, with J.S. Giguere getting the start. The veteran netminder made 26 stops en route to the victory, but he won't be available tonight, as he's left the team to due to personal reasons. That leaves 24 year old Semyon Varlamov to get the start tonight, and he's allowed three goals in each of his last three starts, losing all three.
The Oilers will be looking to avenge a 3-1 loss to the Avs at home in Edmonton two weeks ago. With Colorado missing two of their top defensemen, their team captain, their leading scorer from last season as well as their veteran netminder, Edmonton should be able to take advantage of this weary group from Denver. This Oilers team is young, but loaded with talent, and it's only a matter of time before these young kids start lighting it up.
The Avs have had one day of rest since their overtime victory over Minnesota, and they are just 1-5 in their last six such situations. The home team has come out on top in six of the last seven meetings between these two teams, and it's the home team that appears to have a significant advantage in tonight's fixture. 7*
|02-16-13||Anaheim Ducks v. Nashville Predators -139||Top||3-2||Loss||-139||12 h 29 m||Show|
I'm play on Nashville. The Preds have won back to back games, and Pekka Rinne hasn't allowed a goal in either of those victories. As good as Rinner is, you also have to give credit to the defense playing in front of him. He was only forced to make 19 saves in a 3-0 shutout win over Phoenix on Thursday, and he hasn't had to face 30 shots in any of his last three starts. Rinne is among the league leaders in all major goaltending categories, ranking third with a 1.61 goals against average, fourth with a 9.38 save percentage, and eighth in wins with six victories and a record of 6-3-3.
Nashville will host the Ducks tonight, and Anaheim is off to a great start to the season, sitting second in the Western Conference just four points back of Chicago. The Ducks picked up another win in Detroit last night, and they will play their second game in as many nights in Nashville tonight. This will be the last game of a six game road trip, and Anaheim has already taken four of five so far. This sets up as a possible let down spot for the Ducks, who return home on Monday for a relatively easy matchup with Columbus.
Anaheim won in overtime in the only meetings between these teams this season, but prior to that the Preds had owned Anaheim, winning six in a row versus the Ducks. Anaheim has lost it's last three visits to the Music City.
Catching Pekka Rinne on the heels of back to back shutouts is the last thing the Ducks need, Rinne has dominated Anaheim in his career. The 30 year old Fin is 7-0-1 with a 1.54 goals against average and a pair of shutouts in his last eight starts against the Ducks. Needless to say, offense could be hard to come by for Anaheim tonight, and the Preds are in a good spot to take advantage of a tired team on a back-to-back. 10* GOM
|02-16-13||Columbus Blue Jackets v. Phoenix Coyotes -183||3-5||Win||100||12 h 3 m||Show|
I'm playing on Phoenix. The Columbus Blue Jackets were the league's worst team last season, and they are well on their way to a repeat performance this year. The Jackets lost last night in L.A., getting out-shot 22-13 by the Kings. They were held scoreless for over 57 minutes of regulation before breaking Jonathan Bernier's shutout bid with less than three minutes remaining. They have managed to score just four goals, while losing four in a row on the road.
A trip to Phoenix to play the defensive minded Coyotes in the second leg of a back-to-back might not help matters. The Jackets have only managed to score once, getting out-scored 7-1, while losing their last two visits to Glendale. Columbus has lost four of five on the road so far this season.
Artem Anisimov left last night's game after taking a puck off the leg, and he's questionable for tonight's game in Phoenix. It's also questionable if James Wisniewski will be able to go tonight for the Jackets, he missed Friday's game due to personal reasons.
Columbus doesn't win a lot of games at the best of times, but coming into Phoenix to face a hungry Coyotes team in a back to back situation, undermanned with a few key injuries is likely to be a recipe for disaster for the Jackets. They have lost five of their last six visits to Phoenix, and they are in a tough spot again tonight. 6*
|02-14-13||Colorado Avalanche v. Minnesota Wild -165||4-3||Loss||-165||8 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on Minnesota. The Wild are coming off a hard fought 2-1 loss at Vancouver on Tuesday, and they will take a step down in competition when they host the Colorado Avalanche tonight. The Avs are banged up, missing several key players due to injury. Colorado isn't one of the more talented teams in the league at the best of times, so when the Avs lose a few skilled players, it may hurt them more than most
The injuries just keep piling up for the Avalanche, they were already without their Captain Gabriel Landeskog, and winger Steve Downie, but then they lost defenseman Erik Johnson to a head injury in their loss to Phoenix on Monday. Adding insult to injury, the team has still failed to come to terms with holdout Ryan O'Reilly, who would be one of their top centers.
Colorado won't have much of a chance to turn things around if they continue to struggle on the power-play. They have the worst power-play in the league, clicking at a rate of just 8.1 percent on the man-advantage.
Minnesota hasn't exactly been lighting it up on offense either this year, despite adding some big name talent in the off-season. The Wild have a lot of weapons, including Zach Parise, Danny Heatley and Mikko Koivu. With a home record of 5-2, and going up against a team that has been just gutted by injuries, they appear to be in a good spot to break out tonight, and get a win at home. (8*)
|02-14-13||WAS CAPITALS v. TB LIGHTNING -141||4-3||Loss||-141||8 h 46 m||Show|
I'm playing on Tampa Bay. The Lightning have lost five straight, but they showed a lot of fight in their last game rallying from a 3-0 deficit with under six minutes remaining, to tie the game and force overtime against Montreal. The Habs went on to win in a shootout, but the Lightning earned a point that had appeared to be so far out of reach.
The Lightning are the highest scoring team in the NHL averaging 3.8 goals per game so far, and they will get a chance to face a struggling Capitals netminder tonight. Braden Holtby surrendered five goals on 32 shots in his last start, a 6-5 Capitals victory. The 23 year old owns the worst goals against average of any netminder in the league (4.04).
The Caps have really struggled versus the Lightning, winless in their last six visits to Tampa Bay. They have also allowed 25 goals during those six games. Given the way they have played so far this season, it seems unlikely that these trends will change in tonight's visit.
The Bolts are a team loaded with offensive talent, and that has translated into a top tier power-play unit that ranks 3rd in the league, clicking at a rate of 27.5 percent. If the Caps can't stay out of the penalty box, they will have a tough time keeping Tampa from putting pucks in the net. With the Lightning in desperate need of a victory, there is no team they would be better off facing than the Capitals, and I expect Tampa to exploit this mismatch. (8*)
|02-14-13||TOR MAPLE LEAFS v. CAR HURRICANES -136||1-3||Win||100||7 h 16 m||Show|
I'm playing on Carolina. The Leafs sure have looked good so far this year, but I remain unconvinced that this team that finished two points out of last in the Eastern Conference last year is as good as it's win/loss record indicates. I firmly believe that even if Toronto stays healthy, they will struggle to compete for a playoff spot this season. A recent rash of injuries could cause the Leafs to struggle sooner rather than later.
Toronto will come into Carolina tonight without it's starting goaltender, after James Reimer left his last start in the first period with knee injury. Ben Scrivens came in to replace Reimer in that game, and the 26 year old was solid, stopping 32 of 33 shots in a 5-2 victory over Philly. Scrivens has had his struggles this year though, and he has fairly poor numbers in 15 career starts. Scrivens is 6-7-2 lifetime as a starter, with a 2.97 goals against average and a .905 save percentage.
The injuries don't stop there for Toronto, as they will also be without Matt Frattin and Joffrey Lupul. Both players will be missed, as Frattin was averaging a point per game this season, while Lupul finished with 67 points in 66 games last season.
Carolina has been playing well of late, with four wins in it's last five games, the only loss coming in overtime. The Canes haven't had any trouble putting the puck in the net during that time, scoring 20 goals in that five game span. Carolina will be in a good spot to take advantage of a banged up Leafs team in Raleigh tonight. (8*)
|02-13-13||Ottawa Senators v. Pittsburgh Penguins -174||2-4||Win||100||14 h 21 m||Show|
I'm playing on Pittsburgh. The Penguins are coming off back-to-back losses to New Jersey in a home-and-home series this weekend. They have since had a couple of off days, to practice and rest up for tonight's game against Ottawa. The Senators have been a tough team to beat recently, as they have only allowed a single goal over their last two games. That being said, they still managed to lose one of those games, and they come in tonight on the second leg of a back-to-back.
The Penguins are hoping to see defenseman Kris Letang return to the lineup tonight, he missed both games against the Devils with a lower body injury. Letang has three goals and six assists in 10 games this season.
Sidney Crosby has been held off the score sheet the last few games, but he will fancy his chances of tallying a few points against Ottawa tonight. Sid the Kid has feasted on the Senators in his career, scoring 49 points in 38 meetings, and 28 points in 18 home games against Ottawa. Crosby seems intent on putting the puck in the net tonight: "We need to play more in the opponent's zone," he said. "Our offensive zone time needs to get better. That's something we pride ourselves on. We want to improve in that area."
Since the Senators lost Jason Spezza to a back injury, they have struggled to score goals. They have only found the net nine times over their last six games, and it isn't going to get any easier tonight against Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins starting netminder has won back-to-back starts at home, allowing just three goals in those games.
This appears to be a tough spot for Ottawa, coming off a game last night and really struggling offensively in recent games. With tired legs the Senators may be prone to take a few lazy penalties, and that could prove to be costly. The Penguins are firing on all cylinders on the man-advantage, with a power-play that is clicking at a rate of 28 percent. I like the Penguins to snap their losing streak with a win at home against a tired Senators squad. (7* Personal Favorite)
|02-12-13||DAL STARS v. EDM OILERS -113||4-1||Loss||-113||10 h 25 m||Show|
I'm playing on Edmonton. It's been just six days since the last time these teams faced each other, and Dallas won that game at Rexall Place with Jaromir Jagr scoring the game winner in overtime. It was a goal that Devan Dubnyk would like to have back, and it put a blemish on an otherwise solid performance. Dubnyk has been excellent since then, and he's coming off a dominant performance in Columbus on Sunday, stopping a season-high 39 shots in a 3-1 victory in a game that the Oilers really had no business winning.
Ryan Nudgent-Hopkins was not in the lineup the last time Dallas came to town, and he should give the Oilers a boost in his third game back since missing time with a shoulder injury. The 19 year old got on the score sheet with an assist in the Oilers win over Columbus.
The Stars have been one of the most penalized teams in the league, and they will have to be wary of taking too many penalties against the Oilers, who own one of the NHL's top power-play units. The Oilers rank fifth in the league, clicking on over 24 percent of their man-advantage opportunities. They should enjoy a significant advantage on special teams, as the Stars power-play is below average, converting on just 17 percent of their chances.
With these two teams locked in a four way tie with Minnesota and St. Louis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the loser of tonight's game will find itself on the outside looking in.
The Oilers are in a much better spot than they had been in the previous meeting with Dallas. The Stars came into that game as a desperate bunch, and the Oillers were banged up, particularly thin down the middle. This time around, Dallas comes in as winners of four of it's last five, and perhaps feeling pretty good about themselves. "We've been winning now the last three games so we have to build on that," Loui Eriksson said. "We know it's going to be a tough road trip up here in Canada so it's going to be fun to get there and try to win the first one and just keep going."
Interesting to hear Eriksson say "it's going to be fun", I think he may be in for a surprise if he's expecting it to be a cakewalk in Edmonton tonight. The Oilers will have the previous meeting in mind as they look to execute their revenge, and I expect them to play with a fire inside them that the Stars may not be able to match. 9*
|02-10-13||New Jersey Devils v. Pittsburgh Penguins -161||Top||3-1||Loss||-161||10 h 11 m||Show|
I'm playing on Pittsburgh. These teams are playing the second leg of a home-and-home, with the Devils taking yesterday's game in New Jersey, winning 3-1 with a pair of late third period goals. The Penguins were undisciplined, taking too many penalties and New Jersey was able to convert twice on 10 chances with the man-advantage.
Back home in Pittsburgh, I expect the Penguins to do a better job of staying out of the box, and playing a more disciplined brand of hockey. Not surprisingly, Pittsburgh owns the second highest scoring offense in the league, averaging 3.5 goals per game. The Pens also have one of the league's most dangerous power-play units, converting on nearly 30% of their man advantage situations.
Marc-Andre Fleury struggled between the pipes for the Pens in his first few starts this season, but he's since been pretty solid in each of his last four starts. He's now 5-2 with a 2.37 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. Assuming he's back in, I expect a big peformance from Fleury. Note that Fleury beat the Devils by scores of 5-1 and 5-2 the last two times he faced them at Pittsburgh. (It's possible that Fleury could be backing up veteran netminder Tomas Vokoun on Sunday. That'd be fine too, as Vokoun has been great, winning three of his four starts and posting a goals against average of just 2.09.)
On the other side, NJ's backup (Hedberg) is likely to be in net. While Hedberg has admittedly been strong in limited action and is certainly capable - there's only one Martin Brodeur.
The Pens have had no trouble when playing the second of back-to-back games. This will be the third time that they have been in that situation this season. They won each of the first two games by identical 6-3 scores. Going back further finds them at 22-13 (+6.8) their last 35 when playing the second of back-to-back games.
The Penguins will have revenge on their minds, and with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to offensive talent, they are tough to beat at home. The Devils have lost their last two visits to Pittsburgh and they are going to struggle to avoid making that three straight on Sunday. (8* Personal Favorite)
|02-09-13||Anaheim Ducks v. St Louis Blues -175||6-5||Loss||-175||13 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on the St. Louis Blues. The Anaheim Ducks will be in St. Louis tonight, after losing on the road in Dallas last night. The Ducks haven't had much success in St. Louis in recent years, losing five straight against the Blues. Playing their second game in as many nights, and facing a Blues team that is looking to snap a three game losing streak could prove to be a momentous task for the Ducks.
St. Louis has struggled since losing their starting netminder Jaroslav Halak in the first period of a 5-3 loss at Detroit last Friday. Some have singled out backup goalie Brian Elliot as the man to blame for the Blues recent losing skid, but there may be more to the story.
The Blues surrendered 31 shots on goal against the Red Wings last Friday, and that was the first time this season they had allowed 30 or more shots. So while Elliot has allowed 11 goals over his last three starts, the Blues have also surrendered a lot more shots in those three games than they normally do, which would suggest that the team hasn't played as well in front of their goaltender.
Coach Ken Hitchcock is certainly not pleased with the effort from his players during this losing streak: "We're cheating all over the ice. We're cheating each other, we're cheating the game and we're paying the price for it," Hitchcock said. "You hope that sooner or later the players have had enough and they're willing to make the changes necessary."
Hitchcock will likely light a fire under his team, having them ready to deliver another stifling defensive effort, giving Elliot an opportunity to shine between the pipes. The Blues have allowed 30 shots just once this season, and they have held opponents to fewer than 20 shots four times. I expect St. Louis to get back to playing the kind of defensive hockey that has made them so successful in the past, and snap their losing skid against the Ducks at home tonight. (6*)
|02-09-13||Toronto Maple Leafs v. Montreal Canadiens -155||6-0||Loss||-155||12 h 38 m||Show|
I'm playing on the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs have lost two straight, but it certainly hasn't been due to poor play. In fact, they were probably the better team, more deserving of the win in both those losses. Their last game ended in a shootout after the Sabres completed an amazing third period comeback by tying the score with less than two seconds left on the clock.
Backup goalie Peter Budaj was in net versus the Sabres, and he gave up four goals on 40 shots. Carey Price will be back between the pipes tonight, and he's been excellent so far this season. Price has a record of 6-2 with a goals against average of just 1.74.
The Canadiens have been excellent at home, with a record of 5-1 in their last six at the Bell Center. The Habs have been solid on special teams, clicking on almost 24% of their power-play chances, and ranking in the top 10 in the NHL on the penalty kill. They should have an edge against a Leafs team that has been terrible with their special teams, ranking near the bottom of the league in both areas.
The Habs took three of four meetings with the Leafs in 2012, but lost to Toronto in their only meeting this year by a score of 2-1. They should execute their revenge tonight, with superior special teams play and having the better of the two netminders, I like Montreal to get the victory. (7*)
|02-09-13||Florida Panthers v. Washington Capitals -127||0-5||Win||100||12 h 35 m||Show|
I'm playing on the Washington Capitals over the Florida Panthers. There is no doubt the Capitals have struggled so far this season, as they are sitting in the Eastern Conference cellar, and the heat is on head coach Adam Oates. Washington may not be as terrible as you might think though, when you have a closer look, you will see that four of their losses came in one-goal games.
The Caps will host Florida tonight, and the Panthers aren't exactly a powerhouse in the east either. Florida is playing it's final game of a four game road trip, and the Panthers have taken two of three so far, after losing five of seven games in January.
The Capitals are a desperate hockey club at the moment, badly in need of a win, and a meeting with the Panthers could be just what the doctor ordered. Washington has won five straight home meetings with Florida, out-scoring the Panthers 19-6. Alex Ovechkin has tallied five goals and four assists in those games.
Florida's starting netminder Jose Theodore has really struggled, with a record of 1-5 and a 3.88 goals against average in his last seven visits to Washington. I expect the Caps to throw a lot of rubber at the net tonight, and it might be a long night for the former Capitals goalie.
Washington should come with a solid effort, playing with desperation, as both coaches and players are at risk of losing their jobs unless the team can turn things around. I expect them to out-work, out-hit, and out-skate the Panthers, en route to a victory. (8*)
|02-07-13||CAR HURRICANES v. OTT SENATORS -115||3-2||Loss||-115||10 h 44 m||Show|
I'm playing on OTTAWA. The Senators may still have a bitter taste in their mouth after winding up on the wrong end of a 1-0 shutout versus Carolina last Friday. I feel confident that the Sens will respond with a little added effort, as they seek to hand the Canes a little payback.
Dan Ellis was the starter for the Hurricanes in Friday's victory, however it's likely that Ellis will be the backup to Cam Ward in tonight's fixture. Ward is coming off a solid outing, stopping 41 shots, while stone-walling the Leafs in a 4-1 victory on Monday. While Ward was impressive in Monday's start, such performances have been few and far between for the 28 year old netminder this season. Ward is just 2-3 with a 3.43 goals against average on the year.
The Hurricanes won't want to give up too many goals against Ottawa, as the Sens have been pretty stingy, allowing an average of just 1.8 goals against, the fewest in the NHL.
Ottawa will look to exploit a complete mismatch when it comes to special teams, with a power-play unit that has converted on 27.3% chances on the year, good enough to rank 4th in the NHL. They are even more dominant when it comes to killing penalties, with the 3rd best penalty killing unit in the league.
The Hurricanes aren't particularly dangerous on the power-play, clicking at a rate of just 15%. They are even worse killing penalties, as opponents have cashed in on nearly 27% of Carolina's short-handed situations. With a more consistent goaltender in Craig Anderson, and a far superior special teams units, I feel the Senators possess all the necessary tools to execute their revenge on Carolina tonight.
|02-07-13||NY Islanders v. NY Rangers -151||Top||1-4||Win||100||9 h 15 m||Show|
I'm playing on NYR. The Rangers have not lived up to lofty expectations so far this year, with a sub .500 record and sitting in the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference. They are one point behind the Islanders, who sit in eighth, currently owning the final playoff spot in the East.
Head Coach John Tortorella has put his team on notice, letting players know that anything less than giving 100% will result in a healthy scratch, or reduced ice time. "We have some guys on our hockey club that are really playing hard, and we have some guys that look scared and tentative," Tortorella said. "I'll tell you right now we're not waiting. We don't play careful hockey."
The Rangers will look for more production from Marian Gaborik, who has failed to tally a point in any of his last four games. Gaborik has feasted on the Islanders in his career, scoring 17 goals and adding 11 assists in his last 18 starts against New York's other team.
Henrik Lundqvist won't be satisfied with his start to the season, as he's posted a 2.83 goals against average so far, after finishing with a 1.97 goals against average last year. He will count on his team to start playing a more disciplined brand of hockey in front of him, which is something we are likely to see in tonight's game.
The Rangers are a far too talented a team to be flirting with a spot in the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and I expect the coach to have his squad well prepared for tonight's tilt with the Islanders. The Rangers should get the monkey off their back with a more inspired performance at home, and earn a victory tonight. *9 Personal Favorite
|02-06-13||Dallas Stars v. Edmonton Oilers -130||Top||3-2||Loss||-130||10 h 33 m||Show|
I'm playing on EDMONTON. The Stars have won two of three while the Oilers have lost three straight. I feel this one sets up nicely for the Oilers to bounce back with a win though.
True, the Oilers have dropped three straight. However, all three came on the road. Prior to that, the Oilers had won three of four, including wins in each of their last two games here at Edmonton, 4-1 vs. Colorado and 2-1 vs. LA.
Prior to having won two of three, the Stars had dropped four straight. They're averaging only 1.2 goals per game away from Dallas on the season. Going 1 for 21 on the power-play on the road doesn't help matters. That doesn't bode well against an Oilers team which has surrendered just two goals its last two games.
Meanwhile, the Stars continue to take a lot of penalties and they'll facing an Edmonton team which has shown an ability to convert on the power play, particularly here at Edmonton where they're clicking at a 33% rate.
The Oilers are younger and arguably more talented. I expect them to also be hungrier and that to ultimately lead to them earning an important two points. *9 personal favorite
|02-05-13||Florida Panthers v. Winnipeg Jets -152||Top||2-3||Win||100||13 h 1 m||Show|
I'm playing on WINNIPEG. Sometimes when analyzing games, we can make things too complicated. Obvious factors like "home ice advantage" can be forgotten about, or at least skimmed over. Often, the simple answer is the right one though. In the case of the Jets, they've been a different team in Winnipeg than on the road.
While they can't buy a win away from Winnipeg and come in on a 3-game (road) losing streak, the Jets continue to play well here in Manitoba. The Jets dropped their home opener but have since won their last two home games.
While the Panthers did win their last road game, like their hosts, they're typically not very good when playing away from home.
One can't under-estimate the significance of the "desperation" factor either. The Jets, who haven't lost four in a row since November 2011, know how important every game is in this strike-shortened season. Note that the Jets are 5-2 (+5.1) since returning to the league, after having lost their previous three games.
Coach Claude Noel commented: "Our job is to find solutions to these things, and for me, I know how our team can play and that's what we have to get back to doing."
Winnipeg forward Alexei Ponikarovsky added: "We've got two choices. Choice 1 is to pout and complain and moan about taking too many penalties. The second choice is go home, improve collectively and individually. That's going to have to be our focus."
Not that they should need any added motivation but the fact that they just lost at Florida should provide the Jets with even more incentive.
I played on the Jets the last time that they hosted the Panthers and they rewarded me with a 7-0 victory. This one likely won't be quite that easy but I expect the end result to be the same. *9 personal favorite
|02-04-13||MIN WILD v. PHO COYOTES -119||1-2||Win||100||14 h 60 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. Home ice has been very important to both these teams thus far. The Coyotes are 0-3-1 on the road but 3-2-1 here at Phoenix. The Wild are 4-1 at Minnesota but 0-2-1 on the road.
The Wild have a quality top line - but they haven't shown much of an ability to generate goals from their other lines. Shut down the top line, as other teams have done the past couple of games, and the Wild don't have much left.
The Coyotes started slowly but are now playing well. They've generated points in four straight games and have shutout wins in two of their last three. I backed them in their last game and they outshot Dallas 34-17, en route to a 2-0 win.
Goalie Mike Smith, the Coyotes' #1 netminder and a huge part of last year's success, was stellar.
Coach Dave Tippett said: "He looked like Smitty out there. It's the first game I'd say he looked confident all year.''
I feel that the price is fair and I expect the Coyotes, 52-42 (+9.2) their last 94 off a shutout win, to keep on rolling for another day. *8 annihilator
|02-03-13||Florida Panthers v. Buffalo Sabres -155||Top||4-3||Loss||-155||15 h 5 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. The Sabres figure to be in a foul mood after getting embarrassed at Montreal yesterday. Florida should be a good opponent to take their frustrations out on.
True, the Panthers are off an impressive 6-3 win over Florida. However, lets not forget that they'd lost their previous five in a row. They were outscored by a combined score of 23-5 in those games too. Also note that the Panthers are only 14-24 (-8.1) the past couple of seasons, after scoring four or more goals. They're a dismal 126-179 (-59.4) in that situation, if one goes back further.
The Panthers have yet to win a road game and have been outscored by an average margin of 4.3 to 1.1 away from Florida.
The Sabres are 19-9 with a three ties the last 30 times that they were a host in the series, most recently winning 2-1. I expect them to continue that domination this afternoon. *8 personal favorite
|02-02-13||Dallas Stars v. Phoenix Coyotes -135||0-2||Win||100||21 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. These teams played each other last night at Dallas, the Stars coming away with a win in a shootout. The Stars also beat the Coyotes in their first game of the season. Playing with double-revenge and now back in their own rink, I expect the Coyotes to get some payback tonight.
While the Coyotes admittedly haven't done too well (13-18) when playing the second of b2b games the past couple of seasons, the Stars have been downright terrible in that situation. They're 0-2 when playing the second of b2b games this season, getting outscored by a combined 5-1 mark. That brings them to a dismal 7-21 their last 28 in that spot.
The Coyotes didn't play poorly last night and they've been competitive each time out lately.
Coach Dave Tippett had this to say of last night's effort: "I thought our team hung around the game, competed really hard and gave ourselves a chance to win, but in the end gave a point up. We'll take that point, put it in the bank."
Look for the Coyotes, 19-7 in February the past couple of seasons, to bounce back with a much needed "W." *9 Personal Favorite
|02-02-13||Carolina Hurricanes v. Philadelphia Flyers -139||3-5||Win||100||6 h 7 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHILADELPHIA. Its true that the Flyers do have some injury issues. However, I like them to respond with a huge effort tonight. While the Canes are off a win last night, the Flyers are off a loss. In this strike-shortened season, there's some extra urgency to bounce back from every loss.
True, the Hurricanes were impressive in last night's shutout (1-0) win. (That was fine by me, as I had the Under.) However, its interesting to note that Carolina is a dismal 27-48 (-29.3) the last 75 times it was off a shutout victory.
While the Flyers' 14-16 mark the past couple of seasons, when playing the second of back-to-back games, isn't too good. Its far better than the Hurricanes' 12-26 (-14.2) mark when playing the second of b2b games.
The Flyers are 14-7 (+5.4) the past couple of seasons after having played three straight on the road. Back home and playing with some desperation, I look for them to come away with the important two points. *8
|02-01-13||Chicago Blackhawks v. Vancouver Canucks -118||1-2||Win||100||14 h 30 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. These are both talented teams, each very capable. Throw in the fact that they don't like each other and this has the makings of a good game. Given that they'll play at Vancouver and given the fact that they've been getting excellent goaltending of late, I give the edge to the Canucks.
Off a 3-0 win, note that the Canucks are 13-6 (+3.8) off a shutout win the past couple of years. During that stretch, they're a dominating 68-34 (+21.2) against team with a winning record, including a 5-3 mark as a host against the Hawks.
While the Hawks are 40-43 (-7.5) the past couple of seasons, when playing a road game with an O/U line of 5.5, the Canucks are 47-25 when playing a home game with the same O/U line.
Obviously both teams will really want this one. However, as they're not off to as strong an overall start, I feel that the game is a little more important to the Canucks. With their passionate fans supporting them the entire way, I expect the 2-time defending regular season champs to rise to the challenge and come away with the two points. *8 feast
|01-31-13||EDM OILERS v. SJ SHARKS -185||2-3||Win||100||14 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on SAN JOSE. The Sharks have been one of the league's better teams for quite a few years. Right now, they're playing as well, or perhaps better, than any other team in the league. While their perfect record obviously won't last forever, I do expect the Sharks to keep it going for at least another night.
The Sharks, who had yesterday off, aren't just winning - they're dominating. They've outscored teams by an average margin of 4.3 to 1.7 per game. Five of their six wins have come by multiple goals.
The Oilers, who won at Phoenix last night are just 7-16 (-4.4) the past couple of seasons, when playing the second of back-to-back games. During that stretch, they were also an ugly 25-52 (-15.2) when matched up against a team with a winning record. While this year's team is indeed improved, I don't feel that they're ready to win back-to-back road games, the second of those coming against the hottest team in the league.
While the price is admittedly a little steep, keep in mind that the Sharks were laying -260 the last time that the Oilers were in town. Given the way that they're currently playing, I believe this line could even be higher and I expect the Sharks to again come away with the two points. *6 blue marlin
|01-30-13||Colorado Avalanche v. Vancouver Canucks -159||0-3||Win||100||11 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. The Canucks may seem like a rather obvious choice here. One doesn't need to look at the "consensus sites" to know that they'll be a "popular" pick here. While I've been known to go against the grain at times, sometimes the obvious choice is actually the correct one. I feel that's the case here.
The Canucks have been the best "regular season" team in hockey the past couple of years. They've had very few losing streaks and they've been dominant in Vancouver.
They've owned Colorado, a team which remains winless on the road. The Avalanche are 0-3 on the road. They've been outscored by an an average margin of 4-1 in those games, losing 4-2, 4-0 and 4-1.
The Canucks are 37-13 (+12.8) their last 50 against divisional opponents. Conversely, Colorado is 13-37 (-25.2) its last 50.
In a strike-shortened season and with more difficult games (Chicago followed by a 2-game road trip) on deck, the well-coached Canucks are well aware of the importance of earning two points here.
If this were a baseball game, given the mismatch on paper and recent histories of the two teams, I believe the line would be over -200. Note that the Canucks are 6-0 the last six times that they were a host in the series and that they've been laying as much as -340 in those games.
While anything can obviously happen, I like the Canucks' chances and feel that the price is fair. *7 annihilator
|01-30-13||Edmonton Oilers v. Phoenix Coyotes -125||Top||2-1||Loss||-125||9 h 60 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. I won with the Oilers in their last game. Playing at home, they took care of business against a Colorado team which has struggled on the road thus far. However, I also successfully played against the Oilers in their previous game, a road loss at Calgary. They're back on the road again here and I expect them
I will acknowledge that the Oilers are an improved team from the one we've seen in recent years. I'm not ready to call them elite yet though - they're still young and some struggles on the road won't surprise.
The Coyotes are off a momentum-building 4-0 win last time out. They're 7-1 against the Oilers the last couple of seasons. They're also 52-41 (+10.4) off a shutout win.
The Coyotes outshot the Oilers by a 42-20 margin in winning 4-2 the last time that the teams faced each other here. I expect them to come away with the important two points once again. *9 personal favorite
|01-29-13||Columbus Blue Jackets v. Minnesota Wild -175||2-3||Win||100||10 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on MINNESOTA. This is by far the steepest price I've played so far this NHL season. While I'd prefer the majority of my money line plays to come at a lower-cost, I don't mind occasionally laying this kind of number - provided I believe that the number should actually be even higher. That's how I feel here.
The Wild, who had last night off, were a better team than the Jackets in recent seasons and they should be again this year. Off three straight losses and with a difficult game against Chicago on deck tomorrow, they should have plenty of motivation.
The Jackets, who beat Dallas last night, have been terrible throughout their history, when playing the second of back-to-back games, including an 11-24 mark their last 35 in that situation. They were beaten 4-0 the only time that they played the second of b2b games this season.
The Wild are 15-7 (+3.5) their last 22 as a host in the series. I expect them to dig deep and come away with the much-needed two points. *7 personal favorite
|01-28-13||COL AVALANCHE v. EDM OILERS -123||Top||1-4||Win||100||14 h 2 m||Show|
I'm playing on EDMONTON. I successfully played against the Oilers on Saturday night. That was on the road against their desperate arch rival though. They're back home now though and I believe it will prove to be a favorable matchup.
While the Oilers have had a tough few years, this is a much improved team. While they may have lost Saturday, they battled hard - and the fact that they're even 2-2 at this point says something.
A look at the Oilers' first four games shows that they had to play a road game at Vancouver - the Canucks have been dominant there in the regular season in recent years. Their two home games came against San Jose and LA. The Sharks are a very good team which is off to a 5-0 start and the Kings are the defending Stanley Cup Champs - I already noted that the last game came against a desperate rival.
Now, however, the Oilers will finally play a home game against a "middle of the road" team, one which is already 0-2 on the road. The Avs have been outscored 8-2 in losing their two road games.
Note that the Avs lead the NHL in penalty minutes per game with 28 and also in penalty-minute differential at 11:30.
The Oilers have been starting slowly and battling to come back. They're aware of that issue and I expect them to correct it tonight. I expect them to be extremely hungry from the opening faceoff and for them to ultimately come away with two points. *9 Personal Favorite
|01-27-13||Philadelphia Flyers v. Tampa Bay Lightning -135||1-5||Win||100||8 h 37 m||Show|
I'm playing on TAMPA BAY. The Flyers looked pretty good in disposing of the Panthers yesterday. However, they're facing a better team here and they're doing so when playing the second of back-to-back games and while dealing with some key injuries.
When playing the second of b2b games earlier, the Flyers lost 5-2 at Buffalo. Note that the Flyers are a poor 24-30 (-19.3) the past couple of seasons, off a win by two or more goals.
The Lightning, who had yesterday off, are talented and are playing well to start the season. They've 2-0 here at home, scoring six goals each time here.
In addition to having had recent success against the Flyers in this building, the Lightning are an outstanding 12-1 the last 13 times that they played a home game with an O/U line of six or more. I feel the price is reasonable and I expect them to improve on those stats here. *8 Personal Favorite
|01-26-13||Edmonton Oilers v. Calgary Flames -115||3-4||Win||100||11 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on CALGARY. The "Battle of Alberta" resumes in Calgary this evening. While the Oilers have gotten off to a better start, I expect to see a desperate Calgary squad this evening.
Already 0-3, in this strike-shortened season, the Flames know they can't afford to dig themselves a deeper hole. Note that they're a profitable 13-8 (+7) the last 21 times that they were off three or more consecutive losses
While they did lose the most recent meeting here, the Flames are still 5-1 against the Oilers here the past couple of seasons. I expect them to step up and get it done. *8 Western Conf Best Bet
|01-26-13||Toronto Maple Leafs v. NY Rangers -180||Top||2-5||Win||100||9 h 34 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NY RANGERS. The Leafs are off to a better start than the Rangers. However, I feel that the Rangers are a considerably stronger team. Off to a 1-3 start and with games vs. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on deck, followed by road games at NJ and TP, this is a game that the Rangers can't afford to drop. I expect a highly motivated effort, en route to an important two points. *8 personal fav
|01-25-13||Carolina Hurricanes v. Buffalo Sabres -144||3-1||Loss||-144||7 h 22 m||Show|
I'm playing on BUFFALO. I won with Carolina in the front end of yesterday's home and home contest. I'm coming right back with the Sabres here though.
The Hurricanes are a terrible 10-27 (-18.2) the past 37 times that they were off a win by two or more goals. During that stretch, they were also 11-26 (-15.6) when playing the second of back-to-back games.
Last night's game notwithstanding, the Sabres, already 1-0 when playing the second of back-to-back games, are still the superior team. They're 22-13 (+4.9) the last 35 times that they hosted the Canes and I look for them to continue that home ice dominance in the series tonight. *8 personal favorite
|01-24-13||Buffalo Sabres v. Carolina Hurricanes -128||Top||3-6||Win||100||6 h 18 m||Show|
I'm playing on CAROLINA. In this strike-shortened season, teams know that its critical to avoid a prolonged slump to begin the season. Already 0-2, the Hurricanes know that they'll face these same Sabres at Buffalo tomorrow night. Knowing that its likely going to be easier to beat the Sabres here than there, we should be able to expect their very best effort tonight.
Note that 0-2 teams thrived yesterday. The 0-2 Rangers beat the 2-0 Bruins. The 0-2 Coyotes beat the Blue Jackets. And the 0-2 Canucks and 0-2 Flames both earned a point against each other.
The Canes are 9-6 the last 15 times that they hosted the Sabres, including a 4-2 win in the most recent meeting here. I expect them to be a little hungrier and to find a way to pick up the important two points. *9 best bet
|01-23-13||Columbus Blue Jackets v. Phoenix Coyotes -148||Top||1-5||Win||100||14 h 53 m||Show|
I'm playing on PHOENIX. Columbus may have gotten off to a better start than Phoenix. However, lets not forget that the Coyotes were division winners for the first time in franchise history last season. They had high hopes coming into this season and should be desperate here. Starting 0-3 is never good - but in strike-shortened season, it could prove tragic. Before getting too carried away about the Blue Jackets, lets keep in mind that they've been one of the worst teams in the NHL in recent seasons.
The Coyotes have won six of their last eight home games against the Jackets, most recently a 2-0 win last April. Phoenix was laying -240 in that game, making tonight's price a "bargain" in comparison.
The Coyotes are 23-12 (+11.5) the last 35 times that they played with two day's rest in between games. I expect them to play with desperation and to find a way to come away with the badly needed two points. *9 Personal Favorite
|01-23-13||Calgary Flames v. Vancouver Canucks -160||2-3||Win||100||14 h 39 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. Both these teams figure to be desperate. One can't ignore the fact that the Canucks have been the best "regular season" team in each of the last two seasons. They're well-coached, talented and they typically dominate at home. While the price might seem a little high, consider that the Canucks were -210 the last time that they hosted the Flames, a 3-2 Vancouver victory. In fact, before that, the Canucks were -300 and -260 in the two previous meetings against the Flames here.
Even with the shootout OT loss against Edmonton, the Canucks remain a commanding 36-13 (+11.8) against divisional opponents the past couple of seasons.
The Flames really need this one. However, they've at least got a stretch of potentially winnable home games after this. On the other hand, with three road games on deck, the Canucks can't afford to drop this one. I expect them to get it done. *7
|01-23-13||Boston Bruins v. NY Rangers -120||Top||3-4||Win||100||10 h 23 m||Show|
I'm playing on the NEW YORK RANGERS. These teams will already be facing each other for the second time. The Bruins won the first meeting, at Boston. Playing on home ice, I expect the revenge-minded Rangers to return the favor.
The Rangers were expected to be a Stanley Cup contender this season. Yet, they're in danger of starting 0-3 for the first time in 14 seasons. Starting 0-3 is never good - but in strike-shortened season, it could prove tragic. I expect to see a desperate Rangers team.
The Rangers are 26-13 (+10.6) the past couple of seasons, when playing with two day's rest in between games. During that stretch, they were also 28-16 (+9.2) when off a loss by two or more goals. I expect their best effort and that to lead to an important two points. *9
|01-22-13||Florida Panthers v. Montreal Canadiens -145||Top||1-4||Win||100||14 h 52 m||Show|
I'm playing on MONTREAL. The Canadiens were swept by the Panthers last season. I don't believe that they've forgotten. Throw in the fact that they also lost their opener and I believe we can expect a highly motivated effort.
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec noted: "I'm sure we'll figure out and work out the things we need to for the next game and be ready. We can be better. We have to be better. And we will."
The Panthers got blanked 4-0 at Ottawa last night. Dating back to last season, they're 2-7 the last nine times that they played a road game, after having played the previous day.
The Canadiens haven't lost their opening two games in more than 10 years. In this shortened-season, its more important than ever to keep that from happening. Expect them to step up and get it done. *7 annihilator
|01-21-13||Florida Panthers v. Ottawa Senators -138||0-4||Win||100||9 h 13 m||Show|
I'm playing on OTTAWA. Both teams were impressive in their opener. Playing at home, I expect the Senators to be the team which keeps on rolling for another day.
The Sens are 7-1 against the Panthers last few seasons, including a 4-0 mark here at Ottawa. Going back a bit further finds that they've won 11 of the last 15 home meetings with the Panthers, including five straight.
These teams will play against at Florida on 1/24. While the Panthers will play at Montreal tomorrow, the Sens don't play again until that game. I feel the Sens are the better team and I expect them to step up and give the fans a win in their home opener. *7 personal favorite
|01-19-13||Anaheim Ducks v. Vancouver Canucks -169||7-3||Loss||-169||15 h 29 m||Show|
I'm playing on VANCOUVER. This price may initially seem a little steep for an opening night matchup. However, I believe it could easily be higher.
The Canucks have won six of the last 10 meetings with the Ducks here and they were laying more than -200 in four of the last five of those.
While they will be without Kesler, this is a very talented and well-coached Vancouver club, a team which has won the President's Trophy in back to back seasons. Their experience should serve them well in the strike-shortened season.
Naturally, the Ducks will also be looking to get off to a fast start. Keep in mind that they lost 15 of their first 17 road games last season, en route to missing the playoffs.
The Canucks should be hungry here. Daniel Sedin noted: "Every time you lose that last game of the season, it still hurts. We're a team that should be competing for the Stanley Cup. That's where we want to get to this year."
Playing in front of their hockey-crazed fans, I expect Sedin and co. to take the first step for that goal tonight. *6
|06-02-12||Los Angeles Kings v. New Jersey Devils -108||Top||2-1||Loss||-108||34 h 24 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. When the Spurs had won 20 in a row in basketball, there started to be a lot of talk, or at least some, that they wouldn't lose another game. Of course, that was rather far-fetched. The Thunder thumped them in Game 3 and are favored to win Game 4. There's also talk that the Kings will run the table and win the Cup without losing another game. I didn't buy the talk about the Spurs (won with Thunder in Game 3) and I'm not buying the talk of the Kings running the table either. The first game went to OT, so easily could have gone either way. Keep in mind that the Devils won both regular season meetings. More importantly, note that New Jersey has been at its very best when trailing in these playoffs. In fact, the Devils are a perfect 5-0 in that situation this postseason. Down 2-1 vs. Florida, they won 4-0. Down 3-2 in that same series, they won 3-2. Down 1-0 vs. Philadelphia, they won 4-1. Down 1-0 to the Rangers, they won by a score of 3-2. Down 2-1 in that same series, they responded with a 4-1 victory. As indicated by the above results, the Devils have been at their best when their backs are against the wall. A quick tally of the above five games shows that New Jersey won them by a combined score of 18-6. The Devils are 28-16 (+14.8) the last 44 times that they faced an opponent which defeated them in the previous meeting and I'm not counting them out yet! *10
|05-23-12||New Jersey Devils v. NY Rangers -125||5-3||Loss||-125||10 h 38 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW YORK. I won with the Devils last game. However, I'm coming right back with the Rangers here. Home ice didn't seem to help some teams much at the beginning of the playoffs. Its an important factor for these Rangers though, who have been winning when it counts here at MSG. Note that NY is 25-11 (+8) the last 36 times it played a home game with an O/U line of five or less. Last game, I noted that the Rangers weren't very good when leading in a playoff series. The opposite is true when they've been tied though. They're 6-1 (+4.4) their last seven in that situation. Last game, I noted that the Devils were quite good when trailing in a playoff series. The opposite is true when they've been tied though. They're 2-5 (-4.4) their last seven in that situation. The Rangers are 13-7 (+4.2) after allowing four or more goals and 15-7 (+7.4) after scoring one goal or less. With the home fans cheering them on, I expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats tonight. *8
|05-21-12||NY RANGERS GM4 v. NEW JERSEY GM4 -113||Top||1-4||Win||100||12 h 36 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. I like and respect this Rangers team and have won with them a number of times already during these playoffs. However, I also respect the Devils and feel that they're the team providing us with value here. The Devils have been playing great hockey. They haven't lost two in a row since the middle of April when they dropped two in a row vs. Florida. They followed up those setbacks with a convincing 4-0 victory. They haven't lost more than two in a row since February. While the Rangers are 0-6 the last six times that they were leading in a playoff series, the Devils are 4-0 the last four times that they were trailing in one. The Devils are also 15-9 the last 24 times that they were off a loss by two or more goals. This is a talented team backed by a future Hall of Fame goalie. I expect them to bounce back with a huge effort and for that to lead to a much needed victory and the series getting tied at 2-2. *10
|05-12-12||WASHINGTON GM7 v. NY RANGERS GM7 -135||1-2||Win||100||33 h 12 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the NEW YORK RANGERS. When teams get to Game 7, obviously they're quite evenly matched. I still feel the Rangers are a little more of a complete team though and playing on home ice, I expect them to find a way to be the team which advances. The Capitals are 8-7 when playing a road game with an O/U line of five or less. The Rangers, on the other hand, are 23-10 (+7.4) when they've played a home game with an O/U line of five or less. The Caps are 13-10 when playing with two day's reset in between games. The Rangers, on the other hand, are 13-4 (+7.6) when they have played with two day's rest in between games. The Caps are 2-3 when tied in a playoff series. The Rangers are 4-1 (+2.4) when they've been tied, most recently winning Game 5 in this series. The Rangers are also 23-13 (+6.2) when facing an opponent which defeated them in the previous meeting and 14-7 (+6.4) after scoring one goal or less in their previous game. With the home fans helping them along, I expect them to dig deep and improve on those stats Saturday evening. *9
|05-09-12||NY RANGERS GM6 -103 v. WASHINGTON GM6||1-2||Loss||-103||9 h 15 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW YORK RANGERS. I believe momentum can play a major role in a playoff series. Had the Capitals won Game 5 at MSG, as it appeared they would, they likely would have won this series. However, the Rangers pulled off a thrilling comeback, tying the game in the final 10 seconds of regulation and winning in OT. That puts them in the driver's seat in the series and gives them all kinds of positive momentum heading into Game 6. I expect them to "ride the wave" and to wrap things up here. The Rangers have shown an ability to win here and on the road. They won Game 6 (at Ottawa) in the last series and they already earned the split in the first two games here. The Rangers have been a better team than the Caps this season. They scored more goals while also allowing significantly less. I expect them to get it done here, as the Caps fall to 2-8 their last 10 second round playoff games. *9
|05-07-12||WASHINGTON GM5 v. NY RANGERS GM5 -145||2-3||Win||100||14 h 34 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the NEW YORK RANGERS. This series has seen the teams alternate victories. After the Rangers won the opener, the Capitals won the second. The Rangers responded with a victory in Game 3. The Caps then won Game 4. With the series tied 2-2, I look for the pattern to continue and for the Rangers to hold serve for this very important Game 5. The Rangers were in this position in the first round. Tied 2-2, they lost here vs. Ottawa. While they managed to battle back and win the series, they obviously do not want to put themselves in that hole again. I expect them to have learned their lesson and to come out with their very best effort. Note that even with the other Game 5 loss, the Rangers are 3-1 when tied in a series. New York captain Ryan Callahan had this to say of tonight's game: "We have to win it. It's a big game, especially coming back home. We have to make sure we concentrate on our start, take the crowd's energy and make sure that our first 10 minutes are there.'' While home ice hasn't always been much of an advantage in these playoffs, I expect it to be here. The Caps are 20-27 on the road; he Rangers are 30-17 at home. With the Rangers also 22-13 (+5.2) the last 35 times that they faced a team which defeated them in the last meeting, I look for them to bounce back and seize control of the series. *9
|05-04-12||PHOENIX GM4 v. NASHVILLE GM4 -160||1-0||Loss||-160||11 h 59 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NASHVILLE. Coming into this series, I felt that the Predators were the stronger team. I didn't play them for either of their losses at Phoenix. However, I did successfully back them in their 2-0 shutout win in Game 3. Off that momentum-building victory, I expect the Preds to follow it up with another one this evening. The Preds are now 29-16 (+6) at home. They've outscored teams by an average score of 3.0 to 2.4 here at Nashville. That's much better than the Coyotes' 23-22 mark away from Phoenix. With the Game 3 loss, note that the Coyotes are now an ugly 4-9 (-5.6) the last 13 times that they were leading in a playoff series. Really, the Preds could have easily split the first two games in Phoenix, as they had a 42-24 edge in shots in the first game. They've now got their goalie, Pekka Rinne, playing with confidence again though, an element that was missing at Phoenix. Rinne had this to say: "We played desperate hockey and showed a lot of character when we faced maybe some adversity. That was nice to see.'' Having their goalie playing well and the team playing great defense tends to lead to further success for Nashville. Indeed, the Preds are a highly profitable 14-5 (+9.1) the last 19 times that they were off a shutout victory. I expect them to be at their best again here, improving on those stats and evening up the series. *8
|05-02-12||PHOENIX GM3 v. NASHVILLE GM3 -148||0-2||Win||100||11 h 44 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NASHVILLE. Down 2-0, the Predators obviously really need this game. While we do have to lay a fairly large number, I expect them to respond with their very best effort. While the Coyotes are a respectable 23-21 on the road, the Predators are a more impressive 28-16 at home. They're outscoring teams by an average of 3.0 to 2.5 goals here. The Predators have suspended a couple of players (Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn) for this game, due to them breaking "unspecified team rules." I don't expect that to be an issue though. As coach Trotz had to say: "Every team that has success in the playoffs has to go through some adversity. They haven't had to go through a whole lot of adversity yet, so this is a good test. When you go through adversity, it really reveals your character so we're going to find out what kind of character we do have.'' Although they didn't win Game 2, the Predators are still a solid 21-15 (+5.4) when facing an opponent which defeated them in the previous meeting. Going back further finds them at an awesome 72-46 (+33.6) in that situation the past few seasons. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *7
|04-28-12||WASHINGTON GM1 v. NY RANGERS GM1 -157||1-3||Win||100||9 h 35 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the NEW YORK RANGERS. I won with New York in Game 7 in the Ottawa series. Some may expect a letdown. I don't. The Capitals are off a thrilling Game 7 victory of their own - they've just had more time to think about it. Personally, I feel the Rangers, who rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the last series, are rolling right now and that playing again without such a long break will benefit them. The Capitals have proven they are no slouches and that they can win on the road. That said, they're still getting outscored by an average score of 3.0 to 2.5 on the road this season. Meanwhile, the Rangers are outscoring teams by a commanding 2.7 to 2.1 margin here at MSG. While the Caps have some impressive talent, I feel the Rangers are the more complete team from top to bottom; they're the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They've also got the better goalie, one is currently playing at the top of his game. I expect them to keep on rolling, "holding serve" on home ice in Game 1. *7
|04-26-12||OTTAWA GM7 v. NY RANGERS GM7 -164||1-2||Win||100||13 h 11 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW YORK. While this series has obviously been very close, I still believe that the Rangers are the superior team. They won on the road in Game 6 to force this game. Back at home, I now look for them to step up and close out the series. Its certainly true that home teams have not fared well in this first round. However, I do believe that home ice will benefit NY here. The Rangers finished the season with 109 points. Ottawa had just 92. The Rangers were 27-14 (27-12-2) at home. The Sens were 21-20 (21-14-6) on the road. The Sens are 2-3 in road games with an O/U line of five. The Rangers are 20-9 in home games with an O/U line of five. The final score of the last game was 3-2. However, the Rangers were actually in control with a 3-1 lead, until the Senators scored a highly controversial goal in the final minute. As NY goalie Lundqvist commented: "Someone wants them back in the game, obviously, because there's no other explanation." After playing every other day for most of this series, I believe that the extra day's rest in between games (last game was on 4/23) will serve the Rangers well. For starters, its given captain Ryan Callahan an extra day to help mend a finger injury sustained by blocking a shot in Game 6. Additionally, note that the Sens are 8-9 (-0.9) when playing with two day's rest in between games while the Rangers are 12-3 (+7.6) when doing so. While the Sens are 0-4 in Game 7s, the Rangers are 3-0 their last three at MSG, when playing a Game 7. With the support of the home fans behind them, I expect them to improve on those stats, demonstrating that superior talent and home ice actually are important. *7
|04-24-12||FLORIDA v. New Jersey Devils -153||2-3||Win||100||12 h 50 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. The opening round of the NHL playoffs have provided a reminder that teams in "must win" situations don't always win. That said, I feel that the Devils, who are currently in a must win spot, will find a way to win this game. After Monday's practice, NJ sniper Ilya Kovalchuk had this to say: "We put ourselves in this situation and so we just have to look at it one game at a time. It's a huge game for us and I think we were sharp today. We did what we wanted to and we're ready to go." Kovalchuk went on to say: "I think all of us, we have to shoot the puck more and we have to create more traffic. We don
|04-22-12||Los Angeles Kings v. Vancouver Canucks -175||2-1||Loss||-175||13 h 58 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on VANCOUVER. After dropping the first three games of the series, the Canucks showed that they weren't ready to go golfing quite yet, earning a 3-1 Game 4 victory at LA last Wednesday. That kept the series alive and now we're back in Vancouver. Well-rested and with the full support of the Vancouver crowd behind them, I expect them to now force a Game 6. The Kings may have won the first two games here. However, they're still 20-23 on the road. On the other hand, the Canucks are still 27-16 at home. Schneider will get the start again for Vancouver - not only has he been better than Luongo but the team has been better when he's been in net. Off the 3-1 victory last time out, note that the Canucks are 59-41 the last 100 times that they were off a win by two or more goals in their previous game. If recent history is any indication, the extra break in between games should serve the Canucks well. In fact, they're a highly lucrative 21-4 (+15.8) the last 25 times that they played with three or more day's rest in between games. While the price is admittedly a little on the high side, all things considered, I feel it could easily be even higher. *8
|04-21-12||Ottawa Senators v. NY Rangers -170||2-0||Loss||-170||12 h 46 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the NEW YORK RANGERS. With the series tied 2-2, obviously this is a pivotal game. Playing at home, I expect the Rangers to come out on top. The Rangers were the better team all season. After flopping in the first round of the playoffs last year, I really do expect them to advance (at least) past the first round this year. That means they better take care of business tonight - as being down 3-2 in a 7-game series is a tough hole to climb out of. It should be noted that Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson is out - and reportedly did not even make the trip. While the Sens would surely love to win this for their captain - his absence figures to hurt. The Rangers lost last game. However, they played very well towards the end of the game (Coach Tortorella said the third period of Game 4 was NY's best of the series) and I expect them to bring that momentum into tonight's game. Marc Staal had this to say: "Going into the third, we knew we needed to have a big period and we did. Obviously, we didn't get a goal, get rewarded like we wanted to, but it's something we can take into the next game.'' The Rangers are very tough at home. They're 27-12-2 here, the second best home mark in the East. As Brandon Prust noted: "We love playing at home. We love playing in front of our fans.This building is a hostile environment for an opposing team. Home ice advantage is huge to have.'' The Sens are 7-9 (-2.3) when playing with two day's rest in between games. Conversely, the Rangers are 12-2 (+9.3) when doing so. They bounce back in a big way here. *8
|04-19-12||St Louis Blues v. San Jose Sharks +101||Top||2-1||Loss||-100||12 h 8 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN JOSE. I lost with the Sharks last time out. I'm willing to give them another shot here though. I feel these teams are very evenly matched. Both are well coached. The Blues may have a slight edge in goal - however, that can change from game to game. The Sharks have the better skilled offensive players though, at least in my opinion. They've also been here before, many times. I expect their very best effort. Due to what was seen in practice, the Sharks are expected to mix up their lines a little for Game 3, which could provide a spark. As SJ defenseman Dan Boyle noted: ''Sometimes when things aren't working you have to switch it up ... When things aren't going well you have to try to find a way to get a spark.'' The Sharks are still 21-9 their last 30 in April. During that time, they're also 40-29 after allowing more than three goals in their previous game. Even with the Game 3 win, the Blues are still 15-16 when playing a road game with an O/U lie of five. On the other hand, the Sharks are still 19-10 the last 29 times that they played a home game with an O/U line of five, 10-5 their last 15 in that situation. While I respect the Blues, I feel that the Sharks will be at their very best and that they're providing us excellent value, given the situation. *10 (Roast)
|04-19-12||Phoenix Coyotes v. Chicago Blackhawks -143||3-2||Loss||-143||10 h 38 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CHICAGO. The Coyotes are certainly proving to be no slouches. Desperate to get back in the series and inspired/angered by the loss of fallen Marian Hossa, I expect the Hawks to be too much for them here though. Chicago's Patrick Sharp had this to say: ''There's only been one dirty hit in our series and you saw the same thing from that guy last year in the same series. You know it's coming. You try to warn your linemates and be aware when he's on the ice. He's got a history of targeting guys' heads and having questionable hits. It makes it that much more frustrating to see it happen, but we got to rally behind Hoss.'' Sharp is referring to the fact that Raffi Torres, the player who hurt Hossa, also hurt Chicago's Brent Seabrook in the playoffs last season. (Torres was playing for Vancouver at the time.) The Coyotes are up 2-1. However, they haven't fared too well in their history when leading in a playoff series. In fact, they're just 1-7 (-6.8) the last eight times that they played a playoff game when leading the series. On the other hand, the Hawks are 7-2 (+5.6) the last nine times that they were trailing in a series. I expect them to improve on those stats here. *8
|04-19-12||FLORIDA v. New Jersey Devils -164||0-4||Win||100||9 h 38 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW JERSEY. After their Game 3 "meltdown," I expect the Devils to be all business in Game 4. Future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur got the hook in Game 3. Whether or not that was the right move, (they lost, so one could certainly argue it wasn't) its safe to say that Brodeur will be back between the pipes when the puck is dropped Thursday. Its also safe to say that he's be extremely determined to bounce back with his best effort. I believe he will. Brodeur should get some support. This is arguably a more potent Devils' offense than he's had in front of him in many of his previous memorable playoff runs. Obviously, the Devils are going to be playing with desperation. A loss here and they're in trouble. Even with the Game 3 win, the Panthers are still a dismal 6-13 (-5.8) the last 19 times they played a road game with an O/U line of five. Even with the Game 3 loss, their second straight, the Devils are still 23-14 (+11.1) when facing a team which defeated them in the previous meeting. While the line is a little steep, I fully expect them to bounce back and improve on those stats here. *7
|04-17-12||Phoenix Coyotes v. Chicago Blackhawks -147||3-2||Loss||-147||14 h 12 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CHICAGO. While the Coyotes were the higher seed, I feel the Hawks are the superior team. Note that Chicago had the better record and more points this season. Phoenix earned the higher seed, courtesy of winning its division. Having split at Phoenix, the Hawks now have home ice advantage though. They're a very well-coached team and I don't expect them to just relinquish that without a serious fight. The Hawks had a very high 45 shots in Game 1 and then followed it up with a whopping 50 shots in Game 2. The Coyotes had 33 and 34. While the Coyotes' goalie Mike Smith has had an outstanding season, no goalie can stand up to facing 45 or 50 shots every game. Note that Smith is also a bit banged-up now, too. The Hawks were 27-14 at home during the season. The Coyotes were just 20-21 on the road. The Hawks were also 24-12 (+6.3) after scoring four or more goals in their previous game; they're 75-44 (+7.6) in that situation the past few seasons. While the first two games have both gone to OT, I expect the Hawks to step up and win this one in regulation. *9
|04-16-12||St Louis Blues v. San Jose Sharks -106||Top||4-3||Loss||-106||13 h 50 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on SAN JOSE. The Blues may have had the better regular season record. However, the Sharks are arguably the more talented team and they've also got more playoff experience. Returning home, after having achieved a split in the first two games at St. Louis, I believe the Sharks are providing us with excellent value here. The Blues won Game 2 by a score of 3-0. They're only 30-41 (-16.6) the past 71 times that they were off a win by two or more goals though. Conversely, during the same stretch, the Sharks were 35-18 (+8.4) when off a loss by two or more goals. The Blues haven't been in that situation for a few years but are just 5-8 (-6.1) the last 13 times that they were tied in a playoff series. During that stretch, the Sharks were 14-9 (+6.4) when tied in a playoff series. The Blues were also only 14-15 when playing a road game with an O/U line of five. The Sharks, on the other hand, were 10-4 (+2.8) wen playing a home game with an O/U line of five, a situation they are 19-9 in the past few seasons. It may not be easy but I look for them to dig deep and to improve on those stats here. *10
|04-13-12||Los Angeles Kings v. Vancouver Canucks -168||4-2||Loss||-168||15 h 20 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on VANCOUVER. The Kings stole Game 1. The Canucks are a #1 seed - and the league's President's Trophy winners for a reason though. They should now be desperate while the Kings have already accomplished their mission of earning at least a split in the first two games. While the Kings are 11-12 after scoring four or more, the Canucks are 11-7 after allowing four or more goals. The Canucks are also an outstanding 36-11 (+23.8) the past few seaons, when attempting to avenge a home loss. That includes an excellent 11-2 record their last 13 in that situation. I expect them to bounce back with a huge effort and look for them to improve on those stats here. *7
|04-13-12||Philadelphia Flyers v. Pittsburgh Penguines -189||8-5||Loss||-189||13 h 41 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on PITTSBURGH. The Penguins appeared in total control in Game 1, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. The Flyers showed they weren't just going to roll over though, battling all the way back or a 4-3 OT victory. Now the Penguins are "desperate" though, while the Flyers have already accomplished their mission of (at least) splitting the first two games. The Pens are still 30-15 their last 45 games and that includes a commanding 18-4 (+11.6) mark their last 22 against teams with a winning record. While the price is obviously a little on the steep side, I fully expect them to bounce back and even up the series here. *6
|04-12-12||Ottawa Senators v. NY Rangers -149||2-4||Win||100||9 h 51 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NEW YORK. The Rangers are fairly heavy favorites here. However, the price has come down from its opener - and it could easily even be a little higher. The Rangers finished with a 51-31 (51-24-7) record, good for 109 points. The last time they finished with at least 109 points? The 1993-1994 season, the year they won it all. The Sens were 21-20 on the road. The Rangers were 27-14 at home. After a disappointing showing in last year's playoffs, the Rangers are on a mission. The Sens are just happy to be back in the playoffs. Ottawa's had some success here in the past - but not tonight. *7
|04-11-12||Detroit Red Wings v. Nashville Predators -130||2-3||Win||100||14 h 54 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on NASHVILLE. Playing on home ice arguably means more to each of these teams than it does to the majority of other teams around the league. The Red Wings were an outstanding 31-10 (31-7-3) at Detroit this season. However, they were only 17-24 (17-21-3) on the road. The Predators were a respectable 22-19 (22-16-3) on the road but a much better 26-15 (26-10-5) here at Nashville. Given those home/road records, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Preds took two of three home meetings against the Wings this season. That was also the case last season. The Wings struggled down the stretch and lost their final two regular season games. They've scored two goals or less in five of their last six games, scoring three in the other. The lost four of those six games and are 4-7 their last 11. Note that the Wings are just 3-8 (-5.6) when playing a road game with an O/U line of five. The Preds won the most recent meeting here by a score of 3-2. They also followed it up with a 4-1 victory at Detroit on 3/30. They've won three straight (and six of eight) and should have plenty of confidence here. Given the venue and current play of both teams, I feel the Preds have an excellent shot at starting things off with a win. *9
|04-07-12||Tampa Bay Lightning v. Winnipeg Jets -139||4-3||Loss||-139||13 h 8 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on WINNIPEG. I successfully played against these same Jets in their last game. However, that was on the road and part of the reason I played against them was that I felt they would get caught looking ahead to this, their home finale. While they didn't make the playoffs, one could argue that the Jets return to the NHL was a success. Certainly, their play in Winnipeg was, at the least. Indeed, the Jets are an excellent 23-17 (23-13-4) here at home. On the other hand, the Lightning are a terrible 12-28 (12-22-6) on the road. The Jets were 14-9 (+5.8) in division games this season. They lost all three at Tampa this season but won both meetings vs. the Lightning here in Canada. Expect them to give their loving home fans one last reason to cheer. *8
|04-07-12||Toronto Maple Leafs v. Montreal Canadiens -119||1-4||Win||100||13 h 8 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on MONTREAL. Kind of sad to see these two once proud teams having both fallen upon such hard times. Still, a Toronto/Montreal showdown on Saturday night is always a big deal. I expect both teams to be anxious to close out the season with a victory. That said, playing at home, I expect Montreal to be a little more "hungry." Really, one could find plenty of negative things to say about both clubs. Still, the Leafs have been outscored 3.3 to 3.0 on the road while the Canadiens have at least outscored teams (2.8 to 2.7) on home ice. In the end, I expect home ice to be the difference as the Habs reward the faithful by restoring a small measure of pride. *8
|04-07-12||Anaheim Mighty Ducks v. Calgary Flames -129||2-5||Win||100||10 h 8 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on CALGARY. Playing their home finale, I expect the Flames to be a little more hungry here. While its been a disappointing season, the fans in Calgary still love their team. The players should be looking to reward that loyalty with one last victory here. The Flames are still a respectable 22-18 (22-12-6) at home. That's MUCH better than the Ducks' 13-27 (13-17-10) road record. The Flames are 22-11 the last 33 times they were a host in this series, too. The Flames rallied to beat Vancouver last game, showing they haven't quit. Calgary right winger Tom Kostopoulos said this of the Flames mindset: "I know we let our fans down this year but we wanted to come out and show
|04-05-12||Winnipeg Jets v. NY Islanders -119||Top||4-5||Win||100||13 h 45 m||Show|
Reason: I'm playing on the ISLANDERS. Neither team will make the playoffs. I feel that the Isles will be a little more focused and motivated to win this one though. The Islanders are playing their home finale, while looking to snap a skid. The Jets are off a big OT win against Florida, their third straight division game. They're now playing their fourth straight on the road and could be caught looking ahead to their home finale, which also happens to be a divisional game, on Saturday. The Jets are an ugly 3-10 (-7) after playing three straight on the road. They're also just 18-19 (-3.1) against teams with a losing record. The Isles, on the other hand, have quietly gone 17-14 (+2.8) against losing teams. I expect them to outwork the Jets tonight, en route to earning the home fans a final victory. *10