Computer Picks: 03/02/2010—Wednesday’s a Handful

Updated: February 3, 2010 at 3:18 am by Jeff Tay

As far as moneyline odds go, this Wednesday’s games may offer some of the trickiest lines to navigate, as a number of the favourites may be justifiably favoured but unjustifiably overpriced. At the most extreme end, the Chicago Blackhawks will be a whopping -275 favourite over the St Louis Blues, and the value offered on dogs such as the Blues, Sens, Canes, and Oil, will be projected to be through the roof. Of course, it should also not really surprise anybody to see any or all of these teams lose their games on Wednesday, and so, any bet on one of these dogs will truly be a very risky gamble (except for maybe Ottawa).

Here are the predictions:

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Top Moneyline Play: Ottawa Senators +120

The Pros: The Sens have actually won a ridiculous 7 straight meetings against the Sabres, and their current hot streak has also lasted far longer than anyone could have anticipated. Ottawa has really excelled in the role of a team that defies the odds. Meanwhile, the Sabres may have a sparkling home record, but lately, it has been very much a tight-rope act, with 5 of their last 6 home victories coming by just 1-goal margins.

The Cons: Buffalo should be sharp for this one, after the wheels came off for them on Monday in Pittsburgh. The Sabres also have a stellar home GAA of just 2.11, and this game should realistically go right down to the wire. Ottawa’s pace has also slowed down slightly since the beginning of their streak, and their most recent victory actually required OT against the Habs.

The Verdict: This game should at least be close, given that Buffalo doesn’t produce very many blowouts these days, so the plus money with the hot team should be the right way to go. Take Ottawa +120, and be prepared for a really close game.
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Top Over/Under Play: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Calgary Flames Under 5.5

The Pros: It’s always good to start a case for the Under with two good goaltenders, and prior to Cam Ward’s rough night in Edmonton, he actually hadn’t posted a save percentage under .950 in 4 straight games. Meanwhile, Miikka Kiprusoff will also looking to bounce back from a below average game against the Flyers, and he has very rarely had two bad nights in a row. Lately, on the road, Carolina has either scored a ton of goals on their opponents or they have been completely shut down, and Calgary is more likely to shut them down than get lit up. As for Calgary’s offense, their struggles have been front page news for the past month. Both teams could have trouble finding the back of the net here.

The Cons: After producing just 18 shots on goal against the Flyers, Calgary will be looking to throw everything at the net, so Cam Ward will certainly be busy. Meanwhile, prior to their stop in Edmonton, Carolina had actually scored 18 goals in their previous 4 games. There could actually be a lot of shots on goal in this game, and both goalies will be heavily relied upon, as they usually are on most nights.

The Verdict: There’s some reason for concern, as Calgary would like nothing more than to win this game with a 4-2 type score, and Carolina has also been very capable of scoring in bunches. Play it with a bit of caution.
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Editor’s Choice: St Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks Under 5.5

(My first choice was actually the Ottawa Senators on the moneyline)

The Pros: St Louis has certainly been an Under team as of late, and they have only scored 2 goals in each of their last 4 road games. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks will be returning home where they have a GAA of just 2.15, and have averaged just 22.4 shots on goal against. The key here will be how well the Blues do at holding the Blackhawks off the score sheet, and Chicago may have trouble finding their legs after an epic 8-game road trip. Even if not though, St Louis still managed to hold Chicago to just 3 goals on December 16th in Chicago, and that was in the second leg of back-to-back for the Blues. The Blues also held the Canucks to just 3 goals during their last road trip, and the Canucks average more goals at home than the Blackhawks do.

The Cons: The Blackhawks have the potential to really lay a beating on the Blues, and they have won both meetings this season by 3-goal margins (6-3 and 3-0). Chicago also averages 3.57 goals for in home games following road losses, and in those games they have also given up an average of 1.86 goals against. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of margin for error here, and one slip up on either side could mean an unwanted goal towards the Over.

The Verdict: In terms of Computer Picks, there doesn’t appear to be a lot to choose from, and I’m actually not particularly crazy about this play either. I might just go with the Sens moneyline and nothing else. There’s still plenty of time to decide though.
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Other Games:

Way too much juice for Philly, and Edmonton has kept their recent home games tight. The Flyers are just 4-6 this season as road faves, and they’ve averaged just 1.90 goals per game in those 10 games.

A pretty reasonable case can be made for the Ducks, who actually beat the Red Wings 4-1 at home on January 5th. Detroit also hasn’t won consecutive games in 3 weeks. My only concern is the 6 game road trip and flight back from Florida that Anaheim will be feeling the effects of.