After I allowed Tuesday night’s Red Wings late-game debacle to sink in, I actually felt completely at peace over what had taken place; realizing that a 2-goal lead with 2 minutes remaining in the game was actually a really good side of the fence to be on. However, at the time when the event took place, I did feel the need to get away from sports for a bit, and that getaway turned into a night at the mah-jong table. The results of all this was one tired columnist and one slightly abbreviated edition of Computer Picks.
Here is that abbreviated edition:
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Over/Under of the Day: Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Under 5.5
This pick actually comes with a few downsides, but first, let’s go through what makes it good. One of the more surprising team stats that you’ll find across the league right now is Tampa Bay’s home GAA of 2.25 (compared to their road GAA of 3.59). Montreal has averaged just 2.27 goals per game in 11 games this season against home defenses that allow less than 2.50 goals per game. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has also managed to keep their previous 2 games on this 3-game home stand well under the posted totals, and these games were against Toronto and Atlanta. Montreal is certainly a tighter defensive squad than these two teams, and so this game should be played at an even slower pace. Furthermore, in two meetings this season, these two teams have played to final scores of 3-1 and 2-1 (OT). As for the downsides, Montreal has been torched this season in a couple of back-to-back situations on the road, having given up 6 to the Rangers, 4 to the Panthers, and early in the season, 7 to the Canucks. The Habs have also had some tendencies on the road to follow low-scoring games with high-scoring games. All of this has been taken into account though, and the prediction here is still for this one to go low.
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Moneyline Play of the Day: New York Rangers -155
Carolina is certainly no longer the team that was getting mauled on a nightly basis during the beginning of the season, but they are a still a team that struggles to play with any kind of consistency. This team hasn’t won consecutive games in 2 weeks, and it doesn’t bode well for them that they are now coming off a big 5-1 win over Boston, to play a very determined Rangers team that has lost 3 straight. The Rangers, meanwhile, have had one losing streak of 5 games this season, but the other 3 times that they’ve had 3-game losing streaks they’ve managed to snap them with very solid efforts (6-2 vs. Montreal, 2-1 at Buffalo, and 5-2 vs. Phoenix). The Rangers have also had field days with some of the league’s worst road teams recently, including an 8-2 win over Tampa Bay and a 5-2 win over Dallas; Carolina is also in this category. Furthermore, New York should be the more motivated team in this game, and Carolina probably offers them one of the softest spots in their recent schedule. This game ought to go to the Rangers.
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Other Games: The Over 5.5 in DET/MIN is actually my Editor’s Choice pick, but I’m a little pressed for time to go into detail about it. Minnesota seems to bring out the run-and-gun in everybody though, when they are at home, and their meeting a few days ago was a 4-3 final. Dallas has a similar tendency as well, but Calgary doesn’t have a whole lot of ‘gun’ to go with their ‘run’, so I’m not too sure about playing the Over 5.5 there. As for the STL/VAN matchup, I seem to recall a regular season not too long ago, where the Blues swept the season series, and here they are this season, 2-0-1 versus the Canucks. They sort of have their number (in the regular season at least).