It’s another late-season Tuesday here in 2010, which means yet another colossal board of NHL games to go over. No time to waste here–the sooner we get moving, the sooner we’ll get to the junction between the money train and the public pool (where people go for a soak). Here we go:
The Boston Bruins are obviously not known for scoring very many goals this season, but scoring has not been an issue for them against Atlanta. The Bruins have outscored the Thrashers by a total of 13-7 in 3 games so far, and have done a great deal of damage against Atlanta’s vulnerable PK. The Thrashers, on the other hand, are known for scoring goals, and their quick-strike offense has suddenly led them right back into playoff contention, after looking down and out just last week. In this battle for 8th, it’s hard to imagine either team coming out flat, and there’s reason to believe that offense could be cooking at both ends of the rink. A slight lean towards the Over 5.5, but probably not the best game on the board.
New Jersey has scored just 1 goal over their last 2 games, and will probably look to loosen up the chains here against a non-playoff team. The Devils most recently scored 6 on the Rangers after being shutout in Edmonton, and also scored 4 on Toronto after being shutout by the Leafs 3 days before that, and so, they are actually capable of big offensive outputs when that becomes their focus. Columbus, meanwhile, has actually done fairly well in recent weeks, in the absence of any kind of pressure or expectation, but they will probably be willing to play at the pace of New Jersey’s choosing.
The win here probably means very little to the Florida Panthers, who are just simply playing out the stretch, but for Toronto, it might be a slightly different story. The Leafs are in the act of proving themselves right now, and appear to be determined to end the season on a high note, which they hope to carry over to next season. The price is a little steep, and I do feel inclined to pass here, but I absolutely expect the Leafs to bring the better effort in this game.
The Lightning may have lost 5 in a row now, but I actually believe that they will work very hard to redeem themselves in this game. Whether this “attritional” effort will be enough might be another question, but I’m not so sure that Carolina will have an easy time with Tampa Bay here. The Hurricanes just played the 3 top teams in the Eastern Conference in succession, and won 2 out of those 3 games in OT. Tampa Bay should be the hungrier team in this game.
The Ottawa Senators just breathed a huge sigh of relief, after winning just their second game since the Olympic break. Their short-term schedule also doesn’t make it any easier on them, as they will now play home-away-home-away over their next 4, with a set of back-to-backs in the middle. Knowing what’s ahead of them, the Senators might not bring their best effort here. On the other hand, the loss of Jeff Carter might just be the news that Philadelphia needed to wake up their locker room. The Flyers were run over by Atlanta on the weekend, and will desperately want to get back on the winning track. It’s a shame that Brian Boucher might easily put any kind of effort that the Flyers put forward to waste, with his habitual soft goals.
The Sharks don’t usually blow it until the playoffs, but they have proven over the years that they don’t deal well with adversity. San Jose has still been outshooting just about any team that has crossed their path lately, but that has not translated to goals or to winning. Minnesota, meanwhile, has been getting severely outshot on an almost nightly basis, but they have actually managed to win 4 of their last 6 games. It figures that San Jose will eventually bump their slump, but this is by no means a safe bet. On the other hand, 4 of the last 5 games for San Jose have gone over the posted total, as have 4 of the last 5 for Minnesota as well, and both head-to-head meetings this season have produced at least 6 goals. The Over 5.5 might be the better play here.
The Dallas Stars are practically done for the season, but they have continued to battle for wins down the stretch. Team defense has been one of Dallas’ major downfalls though, and their PK has really been their Achilles’ Heel as of late. The Predators, meanwhile, have had a quiet confidence about them, as they have now won 6 straight while garnering very little attention from the public. The Predators have embraced the role of being the ‘dark horse’ in the Western Conference, and bettors may be able to find good value on this team in some upcoming games. The price here is a little steep though, so maybe not today.
The Phoenix Coyotes proved that they are amongst the best in the West on Saturday night at home, but here will be Chicago’s turn to prove that they are still the team to beat. A sense of accomplishment runs through the Phoenix locker room, while a sense of urgency runs through Chicago’s. The Coyotes might be the hot team right now, but it could very likely end here for them. For me, neither side of the bet is a side that I want any part of.
Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers
The Canucks might just be guilty of reading too many of their own headlines. With their significant lead in the Northwest Division, Vancouver is no longer playing with any sense of urgency, and they more than likely don’t have this game circled on their calendar. Edmonton, meanwhile, has won 4 of their last 5 home games, and they are now trying to generate some positivity towards the end of an abysmal season. To get straight to the point though, the Canucks have rarely been this big of a favourite all season, even at home, and this price is way inflated to say the least. Edmonton would be a very reasonable bet here, as would Edmonton +1.5 goals.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
The Ducks have not been able to carry their success on home ice onto the road this season, but this is another team that is essentially playing for pride right now, and they do have a lot of pride being just a few years removed from a Stanley Cup championship. Calgary, however, must feel like they have their backs against the wall now, being a full 4 pts back of Detroit for 8th place, and the question is whether or not they will be able to deal with the immense amount of pressure and scrutiny that they face. The Flames have shown both flashes of brilliance and moments of ineptitude over their last 5 games, and consistency might be the key factor that makes them not worth the price of admission here.
It appears that I’ve done it again–showing very little interest in any game on a full slate of NHL action. SJS/MIN Over 5.5 currently looks be my marginal and tentative play of the day. Anybody want to sell me on a pick that I’m overlooking?