In all likelihood, anybody who closely followed the discussions found in the comments section of yesterday’s column should have managed to win some money (discussions included NYR/CAR o5.0, DET/MIN o5.5, NJD/BUF u5.0, and TBL -120). Therefore, I would like to tip my hat to everybody who contributed yesterday with their opinions, tidbits, and insights, and I am undoubtedly looking forward to seeing that winning momentum get carried ahead to future editions of Computer Picks and beyond. Let’s keep hammering out those winners.
In addition, I would also like to make a brief mention on a rare accomplishment achieved by the system yesterday—a perfect 5-0-2 day on Over/Under predictions, which included 2 exact scores at the end. Perhaps, for yesterday’s set of games this wasn’t an overly difficult task, but it’s always encouraging to see those kinds of results.
With all that out of the way now, it’s time to get back to business. Thursday is a new day, and Wednesday will very quickly become ancient history, especially if the following predictions don’t pan out:
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Over/Under Play of the Day: Atlanta Thrashers vs. Philadelphia Flyers Under 6.5
It is generally a good idea to instinctively want to lean towards the Under on totals of 6.5, because there is quite simply a good-sized margin for error. It is worth noting though, that in the 3 games that Atlanta has played this season with posted totals of 6.5, they have gone over the total in every single one of those games (vs. TOR, vs. WSH, and at TOR). Meanwhile, Philadelphia has also gone 2 for 2 this season in terms of going over posted totals of 6.5 (at WSH and vs. PIT); not exactly the trends that I wanted to see when trying to justify a play on the Under here.
On the plus side of things though, neither of these teams will be playing Toronto or Washington today, and even further on the plus side, these two teams actually managed to play to a surprising 1-0 final back on November 11th. More recently, Atlanta has also disappeared on offense, as they have only managed to score more than 2 goals in just 2 of their last 7 games overall (vs. TOR and at CAR). Meanwhile, on the defensive end, they have only given up a mere 5 goals combined in their last 3 road games, and are also coming off a 2-1 home win over Anaheim. It appears that Goaltender Johan Hedberg has sort of turned the Thrashers into the Buffalo Sabres of the Southeast (solid offense, great goaltending). As for Philadelphia, the Flyers have also been doing incredibly well at holding the fort lately. In their last 7 home games, they have maintained a stingy GAA of just 1.86, and they most recently held the Penguins to just 2 goals on 22 shots. The Flyers have had a number of big offensive outputs in these games as well, but none of these 4+ goals performances came against road defenses that had GAA’s under 3.50.
When considering Atlanta’s recent offensive lull and much-improved GAA, in conjunction with Philadelphia’s stellar defensive home stand and season-long struggles to produce goals against good defensive teams (which Atlanta has resembled for the past 2 weeks) , there is definitely good reason to consider the Under 6.5 here.
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Moneyline Play of the Day: St Louis Blues -130
Quite frankly, I actually think that the Oilers have been playing all right in their last couple of home games, and that they’ve simply been having a tough time dealing with both superior opponents and bad bounces. With that being said though, it is quite understandable why the system would make this pick. Edmonton has a GAA of 4.00 over their last 7 home games, and St Louis managed to gash the Oilers for a 7-2 victory during their last visit on December 21st—also on the second leg of a back-to-back. The Blues haven’t been scoring that many goals on the road lately, but they have also been dealing with a lot of good defensive home teams, and Edmonton will be by far their easiest road opponent (in terms of GAA) in more than a month (since their last visit to Edmonton). A lot of people may conversely be thinking that this will be Edmonton’s best chance to bump their slump, but with the Oilers priced at +110 there doesn’t seem to be a lot of value there (unless you think they are better than 50%-50% here). If you don’t want to play the Blues, I am just gonna throw the ‘S’-word out there for you, and suggest that it’s better to just S-K-I-P this game altogether (maybe not the strongest endorsement for the system’s “Play of the Day”).
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Editor’s Choice: Chicago Blackhawks vs. San Jose Sharks Over 5.5
Chicago has actually made a habit of making San Jose look bad so far this season, as they have outshot the Sharks by margins of 47-14, 41-24, and 30-23, in their 3 most recent meetings. The Sharks have been on a torrid run lately, having won each of their last 5 games by at least 2 goals, but they have also been outshot in their last 3 of these games, and by wide margins in their games against the Kings and the Sabres. The Blackhawks might need plenty of shots to beat Evgeni Nabokov in his current form, and they might just get those plenty of shots, based on the way that the Sharks have been playing. On the other hand, the Sharks might not necessarily need plenty of shots to beat either Cristobal Huet or Antti Niemi, who have often been shaky, and over their last 5 games, the Sharks have scored 26 goals on 155 shots (16.8%), holding goalies such as Ryan Miller to a save percentage .826, Jonathan Quick to a save percentage of .792, and Miikka Kiprusoff to a save percentage of .824. The goaltenders on both ends of the rink could seemingly have tall tasks at hand. Furthermore, 4 out of the last 5 meetings between these two teams, dating back to last January, have gone over the posted total, and both teams may have had this first-place showdown circled on their calendars for a while. The firepower and the energy in this game should make for a pretty good show.
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Other games: Pittsburgh and Ottawa will certainly be of interest, as Ottawa will look to continue their unreal winning streak. In their last 2 meetings though, the road team has been blown out. Calgary will also be back in action on Thursday, looking to either break their slide or break some more bankrolls. Minnesota versus Colorado will be a battle between an Over team (MIN) and an Under team (COL), and I am leaning towards the Under there.