Similar to this past Wednesday, this Friday will also feature a number of very heavy favourites posted opposite to a number of very sizable underdogs. However, this Friday’s major underdogs may not be nearly as playable as those that were available on Wednesday, as this time, the underdogs will be up against some dominant opponents who will not be in the mood to let their competition into the games. This Friday’s heavy “chalk” picks of Washington, New Jersey, Buffalo, and Chicago all look poised to win, and anything less would be considered somewhat of a catastrophe.
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Top Moneyline Play: Florida Panthers -115
The Pros: It is debatable whether or not Calgary is truly “back”, or if they have just been fortunate enough to have recently played two games against arguably the two worst road teams in the league. Either way though, Calgary is still not a very proficient team on offense, and the Panthers have allowed just 6 goals total in their last 6 home games. Calgary will also be travelling here from the Northwest to the Southeast, which is a long flight that should do them no favours.
The Cons: If there has been one team that has had even more trouble lighting the lamp than Calgary recently it has been the Florida Panthers. The Flames also probably gained some confidence after their recent successful home stand, and could potentially pounce on a Panthers team that may have been rattled after a 3-0 home loss to Anaheim. The Flames have also been a better road team than home team all season, while the Panthers have simply been relying solely on great goaltending to get them their wins lately.
The Verdict: It would be perfectly reasonable to pass on this game, given the uncertainty surrounding how the long flight may affect Calgary and how Florida will respond after their first home loss without top scorer Nathan Horton. Interestingly enough, the last 3 meetings between these two teams have all gone to OT/SO, and it may not be too surprising to see that happen here again for a 4th straight time.
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Editor’s Choice: Calgary Flames vs. Florida Panthers Under 5.5
The Verdict: I am actually a little surprised to see this not being a 5.0 considering the offensive trends that I just mentioned above. Calgary has averaged 2.60 goals for over their last 5 road games, while Florida has averaged just 1.40 goals for over their last 5 at home. There will also be two very capable goaltenders in this matchup, and on top of that, 5 out of Calgary’s last 7, as well as 9 out of Florida’s last 10, have all gone under the total of 5.5 goals. Quite frankly, I actually feel like I’m getting lured into betting the Under here. I guess I’ll bite though (somewhat cautiously).
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Top Over/Under Play: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. New Jersey Devils Over 5.5
The Pros: Toronto’s latest visit to New Jersey on January 29th produced a 5-4 OT final. Including that game, New Jersey has now conceded 3 or more goals in 8 of their last 11 games overall, and twice to the Leafs in that stretch. Meanwhile, Toronto has managed an abysmal GAA of 3.40 over their last 5 road games, and sadly, this has been an improvement over their season-long road GAA of 3.80. The addition of Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils’ lineup should also spark the slumping New Jersey offense.
The Cons: Jean-Sebastien Giguere managed to shut out the Devils this past Tuesday in Toronto, and will be carrying that momentum, along with his new found vigor, into his second start for the Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, Martin Brodeur hasn’t been good in recent appearances, but will now have had 4 days off to recover from a gruelling schedule. New Jersey has also had 8 of their last 10 games finish with totals under 5.5, while Toronto has had 2 of their last 3 road games do the same.
The Verdict: There is genuine reason for concern with regards to the Over 5.5, given the goaltending matchup and the tendency for the Devils to play more low-scoring games. Therefore, this should really be more of a lean towards the Over instead of a big play. However, Toronto’s offense has been clicking lately, and New Jersey will also be adding one very lethal sniper to their squad, which both make for a pretty promising outlook.
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Washington laid a whooping on Atlanta in their last meeting (8-1), and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it again here. I wasn’t really impressed with the way that the Capitals played on Thursday, but I’ll probably just be looking to cash some prop bets. I’m still waiting for the lines, but I’ll have my eye on either the Washington team total or the Washington win margin.
This looks to be the perfect bounce-back spot for Buffalo. After playing two very good teams, the Sabres will now get a slightly worn-down Carolina team that didn’t get much done in Alberta. Buffalo plays too many close games though to really feel safe with taking them -1.5. Maybe just Buffalo in regulation.
Phoenix enters this game on a 5-game win streak, and they’ve actually been winning games on the road as well. Chicago hasn’t lost more than 2 consecutive games all season though. Still contemplating. I am leaning towards the Under 5.5 though.