During the short period of time that this column has been around (17 days), an unprecedented number of teams have actually gone on some pretty astounding runs (both good and bad). Prior to publishing the very first edition of Computer Picks though, I had actually thought that midway through the season would have been the perfect time to do so, because of the notion that, by this time, there should have been more than enough data to roughly establish how teams were going to fare for the remainder of the season. As I had not anticipated though, many teams actually ended up choosing this moment in the season to play at a different level than what they had been playing at before—perhaps, prior to the holiday season.
Here are just a few examples of teams that have recently ‘changed gears’:
– The Ottawa Senators have now won 8 straight games, by an average margin of 2.375 goals, after they had previously lost 5 straight, by an average margin of 3.4 goals.
– The Boston Bruins have won just 3 games in the New Year, and only 1 of these wins has come in regulation.
– Both Calgary and Edmonton have gone on massive losing streaks; one which will end on Saturday, and one which will continue (since they will both be playing each other).
These have obviously been the most dramatic examples of this trend so far, but many other teams have also shown either significant recent drop offs or significant recent improvements in play, and all of this has undoubtedly led to one particular dilemma regularly reappearing on several occasions over these past few days; the dilemma of trying to figure out whether these streaks will continue or end, and also if they are truly reflective of a team’s ability or if they are just anomalous, unsustainable runs.
Meanwhile, the Computer Picks system itself has actually struggled mightily with this dilemma as of late, often producing wildly inaccurate predictions when such streaking teams have been involved, and this has probably had a lot to do with the way that certain game stats have been weighted in its calculations (the season-long stats have often outweighed the more recent streak stats in many instances).
I have since decided to make some minor tweaks because of this issue, but now, only time will tell whether or not these tweaks will actually work out. Let’s start by seeing how Saturday goes:
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I should also mention that I won’t be able to do Computer Picks for this Sunday, and most likely for any of the remaining Sundays this season. If I had to miss any day of the week though, then that one would be the best one to miss.
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Over/Under Play of the Day: Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames Under 5.5
These two teams began showing signs of struggle back in mid-December, and offensively, their numbers have been very similar since that time. Amidst their woes, Calgary and Edmonton played a 2-game set on December 28th and 31st, which resulted in Calgary victories of 4-1 in Edmonton and 2-1 in Calgary. In the following 7 home games after December 31st, Calgary has averaged a paltry 1.28 goals per game on offense, and they have maintained a respectable home GAA of 2.29. Meanwhile, Edmonton has played just 3 road games in that same time frame, and they have scored just 3 goals in those 3 games. The one danger to the Under 5.5 here has been Edmonton’s 14 goals allowed in their previous 3 road games, but it is worth noting that these games were against San Jose, Colorado, and San Jose. If Calgary’s lack of offensive productivity continues, then this game should cruise comfortably under the number.
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Moneyline Play of the Day: Los Angeles Kings +110
This could be as big of a blockbuster alert as we’ve seen all week. The team that was previously mentioned to have only won once in regulation during this calendar year will now be making a short trip home, in a back-to-back situation, to play a team that has currently won 5 straight on the road and 6 of their last 7 overall; and guess who the favourite is (it’s Boston). Of course, it is perfectly understandable why the home team is favoured here, but at this point in time, there doesn’t really seem to be a need to show too much respect to the Bruins, as they very recently lost 3-2 at home to Columbus, and also 5-1 on the road to Carolina—games which they should have at least fared better in. To their credit though, Boston has outshot each of their last 4 opponents, but in the process, they have also only managed to score just 5 goals in those 4 games, and they actually may not have such an easy time generating chances against the Kings, who outshot the Bruins in all 3 periods of their January 16th meeting in LA. The Kings’ offense has also come to life lately, averaging well over 3 goals a game in their last 7 overall and 4 goals a game on their current road trip. The only argument that can be made for the Bruins is that they are desperate team, but they were also a desperate team both in Carolina and in Buffalo, and they ended up surrendering early leads in both games. The Kings are seemingly in a better position to win this one.
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– Philly has won 10 straight against the Isles (talk about having their number).
– The Sens should be able to pick off the Habs, but they come with a hefty price tag.
– Carolina a live home-dog looking to start their own astonishing run? Long trip for the Hawks too.
– Vancouver will be looking to overcome the ACC Saturday night effect, where Toronto has beaten some pretty good teams.
– Is there an ‘NYR to get shutout’ prop bet?
– Nashville is really stumbling, and now returning home from an extended road trip. Advantage Atlanta.
– CBJ playing better, but still not very good.
– MIN/SJS no lines available yet… why?