Given that I live on the West Coast, chances are pretty much slim to none that I’ll be able to catch any part of the Penguins/Flyers game on Sunday, which starts at about 9:30 AM Pacific Time. However, what bothers me even more right now is the fact that I am still not able to bet on it yet, a mere 8 hours away from the drop of the puck. Conspicuously, this has been somewhat of a recurring theme this week (lines for certain games not opening until hours before the game), and it has repeatedly been related to teams that are playing in back-to-back situations, but it is worth noting that the last Flyers game ended over 12 hours ago, and so either the oddsmakers have decided to take the day off or the books are purposely not opening any betting for this game up until very close to game time.
Either way, both of these possibilities seem fairly unusual given that this game will be the marquee matchup of the day. Anyway, here are how the 3 games on Sunday break down:
Over/Under of the Day: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers Under 6.0
Key Factors: Let me just start by noting that the Computer Picks that I have personally disagreed with over the past 12 days have been by far the most challenging picks that I have had to write supporting paragraphs for. However, through this painstaking process, I have also been forced to look at these games from various alternative angles, which I otherwise never would have bothered to notice. Therefore, I would say that these occasional scoff-inducing predictions can actually be quite helpful, by at least raising awareness to the possible downsides of what we may otherwise consider to be “easy money” bets. With that said, let us now momentarily consider the possibility of this game not turning into a score-fest, and then let’s make our decisions after hearing out this case for the Under 6.0 (which I personally have my doubts about).
To begin with, the noticeable pattern of Pittsburgh having big offensive nights at home and just average offensive nights on the road has actually been in effect since early-November, when very few bothered to notice because they were still winning road games at the time. Now, that Pittsburgh has lost 6 out of their last 9 road games though, it has become more apparent that they are actually extremely likely to score just 2 or 3 goals on any home team that is playing responsible defense. In fact, since their November 3rd game at Anaheim, Pittsburgh has only managed to score more than 3 goals on the road twice in a total of 20 road games, and they have averaged just under 2.3 goals per game during this stretch. Philadelphia, meanwhile, is playing pretty responsible defense at home right now, as they’ve been allowing just 1.83 goals per game over their last 6 home games. One thing that Philadelphia has also been doing lately at home though, has been lighting up the league’s worst road defenses (Toronto, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Columbus, Carolina), but in home meetings against even middle-tier road defenses this season, they have not fared nearly as well. The Rangers were able to hold the Flyers to just 2 goals in their recent visit to Philadelphia, and back on December 17th, the Penguins were able to do the same in their last visit as well. Philadelphia went through a stretch in December where they lost 7 out of 8 home games, and 11 out of 13 games overall, but a second look at who they actually played during this stretch might suggest that the competition had a lot to do with both their losing and their then offensive woes. The fact that Philadelphia hasn’t scored 3+ goals on a road defense that averages fewer than 3 goals against per game since scoring 3 on New Jersey on November 16th, in conjunction with road scoring trends of Pittsburgh, really come together to form a reasonable case for the Under 6.0 here.
Editor’s Choice: Colorado Avalanche -160
Key Factors: Seeing as how I don’t know what the moneyline odds for the Penguins/Flyers game will be, and how little games there are on the board, I’ve decided to just skip straight to the Editor’s Choice pick, which for reasons beyond my comprehension, is currently an unpopular selection among certain top-ranked handicapping contest participants. What I see though, is a Dallas team that has won just 1 out of their last 11 road games, and that game was a squeaker over Edmonton. In these last 11 road games, the Stars have conceded an average of over 4 goals per game, and they have only been scoring 2.36 goals per game. They will now be going into Colorado, where the Avalanche have won 3 straight and 4 out of their last 5, not to mention 5 straight games overall, and one of those 4 home wins was actually a 4-1 win over Dallas. Colorado has also conceded just 2 goals in their last 3 home games, and they will be playing here to recapture sole possession of top spot in the Northwest Division. My money is on them.
Other Game: I don’t really want any part of Boston and Carolina, but I do see Boston putting up a heck of an effort after losing their 4th straight game on Saturday. The question is will it be enough.