This Tuesday will undoubtedly be a rare occasion due to the fact that every team that will be playing on this day will actually be doing so after multiple days of rest. The last time that such an event took place was, of course, right after the Christmas break when teams returned to action on Saturday, December 26th, and if it meant anything at all, 8 out of the 13 games that were played that day were won by the home teams, and 9 out of the 13 games went under the total of 5.5 goals. If we compared the strong Over/Under trend of that day to the Over/Under trends that were happening early last week, when many teams were playing on short rest, perhaps evidence of a trend that relates rest to goal-scoring does exist. Last week, when many teams were playing on short rest, goal-scoring across the league was up, so maybe, for this Tuesday, when all the teams are playing on long rest, we can expect for goal-scoring to be lower than anticipated.
As a cautious gambler, the thought will at least be in the back of my mind as I make my picks, and as a studious gambler, I can’t wait to see if this theory holds true. The Computer Picks, on the other hand, are leaning slightly towards a few of the Overs on Tuesday, so I would also suggest playing these with caution (if at all). Here they are:
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Over/Under of the Day: Los Angeles Kings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Under 6.0
Key Factors: If the LA Kings don’t torch the Leafs for 4+ goals, then this game will more than likely stay under the number. Over the Kings’ last 8 road games, they have held 6 of their opponents to exactly 2 goals, and the other 2 opponents to 3 goals—good for a 2.25 goals against average. The Leafs, meanwhile, are a team that the Kings can hold to less than 3 goals, as 5 out of the last 7 visiting teams to the Air Canada Centre have accomplished this same feat. The question then, is whether or not the Leafs have the ability to hold the Kings’ offense at bay. Both the situation and the scheduling spot actually appear to favour the Leafs to accomplish this task. In home games following road losses this season, the Leafs have actually maintained a very impressive goals against average of 2.54, and in home games as an underdog this season, they have held a very similar goals against average of 2.45. The Kings offense has been known to explode at times this season, and on these nights they are made to appear like offensive juggernauts, but they don’t often have such great performances on a regular basis. On the road this season, they have only scored 4 or more goals in 9 out of their 26 games, and 6 of these performances actually came against divisional rivals (which they often seem to elevate their game for). If things go according to plan, then this game should not go Over 6.0.
Fave of the Day: Los Angeles Kings -115
Key Factor: Keep in mind that this is the pick that is projected to be the best bang for your buck, and not necessarily the pick that is projected to be the most likely to win. With that being said though, the Kings are still projected to win about 67% of the time here, and quite simply, there are just a lot of numbers that demonstrate how the Kings are a better road team than the Leafs are a home team (win-loss record, plus-minus, average goals for, average goals against, to name a few). The Kings’ most recent road wins have also come against the Red Wings, Sharks, and Wild, so the Leafs, in addition, will also be a step down in competition for them in their recent schedule. Toronto, meanwhile, also has not fared well this season at home on long rest (where they have a 1-9 record), or in games where they are trying to snap 3-game losing streaks (where they have a 1-4 record), or versus upper-tier road defenses (where they have a 1-9 record and average 1.73 goals per game). There is a lot to like about the Kings here, especially at this price.
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Dog of the Day: New York Islanders +145
Key Factors: I was really hoping that I wouldn’t have to write about this one, but inevitably, here I am again, writing another supporting paragraph for a play on the Islanders as a home underdog (my 4th NYI write up in 2 weeks, with a 2-1 record so far). The Islanders managed to hang tough in their last home game against the Capitals, but ultimately relinquished a 2-0 lead to lose in OT. Surprisingly enough though, all 3 meetings this season between these two teams have actually ended past regulation time (SO, OT, and OT), so the Islanders might not have as much trouble with the Capitals as one might think. Furthermore, ‘hanging tough’ has been exactly what the Islanders have been doing all season at home, especially as underdogs. On the puck-line as underdogs this season, the Islanders are actually an incredible 13-2, which means that they’ve only lost by 2 goals as an underdog on two separate occasions (once to New Jersey and once to San Jose), and they’ve actually won a very impressive 8 of these 15 games straight up. These guys don’t go down without a heck of a fight. Meanwhile, the red-hot Capitals might be facing a bit of a tough scheduling spot for themselves here. They have now matched their season-high 6-game win streak, and the extra day of rest might actually act as a bit of a momentum changer for them, as it has for them all season on the road. In road games on multiple days of rest this season, the Capitals have a mediocre record of 5-5, and they’ve lost their last 2 in this situation as well, by scores of 7-4 to Tampa Bay and 2-1 to Los Angeles. It may also be worth noting that the Capitals are only 15-12 straight up on the road this season, and just 3-7 against home teams that concede less that 2.50 goals per game (NYI has a 2.44 home GAA). When the Islanders line moves to +155 by game time, I will probably be looking to take them +0.5 goal in regulation.
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Editor’s Choice: Detroit Red Wings -160
Key Factors: I was actually just about to change my mind on this pick, after seeing that about 71% of the public on a consensus board was picking Detroit in this game. For whatever reason, these big time consensus picks just never seem to work out, but I still actually believe that Detroit has a big edge in this matchup. First of all, Phoenix isn’t at home in this game, which already seems to make a very significant difference for them. The Coyotes’ only wins in their last 9 road games have come against Edmonton, Columbus, and Toronto, and outside of their games in Toronto and Edmonton, they haven’t scored more than 2 goals in any other of these 9 games. Meanwhile, Detroit still has one of the best home defenses in the league, boasting a home GAA of just 2.08. What also works in Detroit’s favour is the fact that they are already 2-0-1 against the Coyotes this season, and the Coyotes are now allowing way more goals in recent games than they were at any other time this season. Detroit is also coming off a blown 2-0 lead to the Kings, and they’ve now had 3 days to think about it. I anticipate a strong effort from them, and a convincing home win.
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Other Games: There are actually a number of other intriguing matchups on this day. Will Montreal stay hot after their offensive outburst on the Rangers? Can Ottawa continue their magic run by knocking off New Jersey? Will the Oilers find their first win in 10 games against one of their toughest opponents yet? All are questions that will be answered by the end of Tuesday night.