If Wednesday’s snack-pack of just 3 games left anybody feeling empty and starving for more, then Thursday’s baker’s dozen will surely fill those appetites. The 13 games on the menu for Thursday appear to offer something for everyone; close matchups, potential blowouts, tight-checking affairs, and high-scoring collisions. With so much to choose from, the biggest challenge on this day might be trying to stop ourselves from biting off more than we can chew (betting on too many games).
Here are the computer’s top recommendations:
Over/Under of the Day: Nashville Predators vs. Phoenix Coyotes Over 5.0
Key Factors: This line actually caught me completely off guard, as I had already painstakingly written the entire supporting paragraph for the Under 5.5 in the Rangers/Flyers game, under the assumption that the total here was a 5.5. A total of 5.0 in this game actually doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense at all, based on a lot of the statistics. First of all, the Predators have averaged just about 3 goals a game on offense on the road this season, and they have conceded just under 2.90 as a road team, and furthermore, of the 25 road games that they have played so far, they have only gone under this specific total on 6 separate occasions. Meanwhile, Phoenix net-minder Ilya Bryzgalov has not held the opposition to less than 3 goals since the turn of the calendar year—a span of 7 games. Phoenix has also averaged 3.4 goals per game on offense on their current 6-game home stand, and 4 of their last 5 home games have actually featured at least 7 total goals. Phoenix may try to make defensive adjustments for this game, but given the low total and the potency of the two offenses, the Over 5.0 must be the only way to play it.
Over/Under of the Day before realizing that the other one was better: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers Under 5.5
(Since I already wrote it, I might as well not let it go to waste.)
Key Factors: There is no doubt that any game that the Flyers are involved in this season will have the potential to go over 5.5 goals, but let us look at the Rangers side of the coin first, as the exact opposite can be said about them. The Rangers have gone under the total in 6 straight road games; a stretch that also began with a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia. There is, however, one even more impressive stat that the Rangers have owned this season, and it highlights their ability to keep games under the total against some of the highest-scoring home offenses in the league (the Flyers being one of them). The Rangers have played a total of 10 road games this season against teams that have averaged more than 3 goals per game at home, and of those 10 games, 8 of them have actually gone under the total of 5.5 goals, with 5 of those opposing teams being held to 2 goals or less. Philadelphia, on the other hand, has heated up on offense at home, as they have scored 21 goals in their last 4 games at the Wachovia Center, but at the same time, the 4 teams that they played during this stretch were actually 4 of the worst defensive road teams in the entire league (Columbus, Dallas, Tampa Bay, and Toronto). Furthermore, the Rangers are coming off consecutive games where they scored 6 and 8 goals respectively, and this aberration is more likely to end than continue, which brings us to a logical conclusion that the Rangers probably won’t score that many, or let in that many in. If nothing else, at least stay away from the Over 5.5 in this one.
Dog of the Day: St Louis Blues +155
Key Factors: This is a matchup between two teams that have very suddenly turned the directions of their seasons around. Ottawa has been arguably the hotter of these two teams, having won their last 4 games by an average margin of 2.75 goals, but one thing that Ottawa has not done particularly well this season is extend winning streaks at home—or winning steaks in general for that matter. Ottawa has currently matched their season-high 4 game win streak, but in home games following a home win this season they have amassed a meagre win-loss record of just 5-5. St Louis, meanwhile, has been a better road team than home team all season long, and has had a tremendous amount of success when not pitted up against top-ranked opponents on the road. Furthermore, the Blues have shown a propensity to follow road wins with road wins, and they may very well be battling for this win right down to the wire.
Fave of the Day: San Jose Sharks -210
Key Factors: It appears that the system is actually predicting Thursday to be a day for the dogs, as far as good value goes. San Jose though does have some very overwhelming numbers in their favour to justify their heavy price tag. After beating Calgary by 8 and then L.A. by 4, San Jose appears to be playing their best hockey of the season, as they welcome Anaheim; a team that has won just 2 of their last 8 road games, and losing by at least 2 goals in each of their 6 losses in that stretch. San Jose has also already beaten Anaheim in all 4 meetings this season, and at home they have done so by scores of 5-2 and 4-1, with both of those meetings happening in late December. Anaheim would need to do something very dramatic to pull off this upset.
Editor’s Choice: Chicago Blackhawks -145
Key Factors: My favourite play of the day is actually the Over 5.0 in the Nashville/Phoenix game, but since that has already been mentioned, I have selected this game to key in on. It just appears to me like the Blackhawks match up well against the Flames, having beaten them 7-1 in their building on November 11th, and also coming back from a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5 at home in their first meeting of the season. Furthermore, the Flames appear to be a fragile team right now, and if they hope to win this game, they will need to score early and possibly often. Of course, the problem with the Flames right now is very simply that they can’t score at all—let alone early and often. Calgary has lost 4 straight home games, and will actually be facing their toughest opponent yet in this stretch, and the Blackhawks themselves, are also looking to rebound off an ugly loss. If Chicago scores first, they may very well run away with this one, and the Blackhawks are averaging over 4 goals per game over their last 9 on the road. I’ll take the team that is more likely to put the puck in the net.
Other Games: If there weren’t so many games today, I would have actually taken more time to look at each one of them, but quite frankly, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume (especially at this late hour). Here is the long list of the other games scheduled for Thursday, and how they might play out based on team stats: