For someone who takes a scientific approach to many things, including sports handicapping, it may be quite surprising to learn how superstitious I really am. With a mere 12 seconds remaining in last night’s Predators/Islanders game, things were going nearly perfectly according to the night’s Computer Picks, when alas, the Islanders were able to tie the game in the dying seconds—a surprising kick to the gut. My only hope now is that this event was not the prelude to a devastating Stone Cold Stunner (a la former WWE wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin) set to be delivered here on Wednesday night. If Wednesday’s picks are to put me down for a three-count though, it wouldn’t be the first time that I would follow a good night with one where nothing goes right, but hopefully, now that I’ve mentioned the possibility of this happening, I have reversed the curse in some way.
I also hope that I am better at predicting hockey than I am at predicting my own demise. We’ll see though. At first glance, there are already a number of Computer Picks that I am somewhat uncomfortable with.
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Best Moneyline Offer: Philadelphia Flyers +140
The Pitch: It may be very easy to make an argument for actually taking New Jersey here—all it takes are the words “revenge” and “match”, and also throw in the fact that this is a home-and-home series in which Philadelphia won the first game of. I am not about to discount the importance of these arguments, but I will start by pointing out that Philadelphia did manage to sweep a home-and-home against New Jersey last season, On October 24th and 25th of 2008. What may be even more significant though is the fact that Philadelphia has beaten New Jersey in 3 out of 4 meetings this season, including once in New Jersey, and the Devils are now probably playing some of their worst hockey of the season at both ends of the rink. Are the Devils really a team worthy of being -160 favourites here?
The Fine Print: Philadelphia has won just 1 out of their last 5 road games, and scoring on the road has become an issue (as seen in their 1-0 loss to the Oilers). New Jersey will also be out for revenge here, which makes them the far more motivated team, and home-and-home series during the regular season are usually notoriously difficult for one team to sweep. The newly acquired Ilya Kovalchuk also managed 9 shots on goal when the Devils visited the Flyers on Monday, and so he also looks poised to eventually have a breakout night for New Jersey.
The Final Transaction: Buy a little, get a lot. At 50%-50%, +140 would be a very profitable proposition, and even at 45%-55% it would still be profitable. If you give Philadelphia at least a 45% chance to win, then put a little on them, and maybe they’ll win again (for a 4th time this season vs. New Jersey).
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Best Over/Under Offer: New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Over 5.5
The Pitch: The recent play of Marc-Andre Fleury has to be disconcerting to many Penguins fans, as he has not posted a save percentage better than .900 in 4 of his last 5 starts. He is also fortunate enough, however, to have an offense in front of him that is capable of bailing him out of almost any reasonable deficit, as the Penguins have scored a total of 12 goals over their last 3 games combined. One thing that’s great about playing the Islanders here is actually the fact that the Isles are coming off a win as an underdog, and on the road this season, the Islanders have played far looser defensively in this situation, giving up an average of 4.50 goals per game over a total of 8 games. The Islanders were also able to finally find their offense on Tuesday night at home, and they have actually managed to score no less than 3 goals in all 3 meetings they’ve had with the Penguins this season. The last meeting in Pittsburgh was a 6-4 Pittsburgh final, and anything close would suffice here for the Over 5.5.
The Fine Print: The Islanders have scored a total of 4 goals in their last 4 road games, and it may be difficult for Pittsburgh to shoulder the entire burden of scoring the 6 goals needed for the Over here. Dwayne Roloson has also carved out a very prominent pattern for himself recently; his goals allowed in his last 10 starts have been 4-2-4-1-5-0-4-2-5-2—good, bad, good, bad, good, bad, and so forth. If this pattern continues, Roloson is actually set to have a good start in this game, which would also be very detrimental to the Over. The Islanders would like nothing more than a low-scoring tight-checking affair.
The Final Transaction: Buy it in bulk. It scares me to say that on a night that I might be destined to lose on (reverse-psychology jinx), but Pittsburgh hasn’t played since their 5-4 overtime loss on Sunday, and they are itching to get back on the ice. On two separate occasions this season, Pittsburgh has put up at least 35 shots on the Isles, and they should figure to do the same here with Isles playing a back-to-back. A goaltending duel is a possibility, so this would essentially be a bet against that happening.
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Also in Stock:
This is undoubtedly a mismatch on paper, but the Sharks have been known to fade a bit as road trips wear on. Ultimately, I do expect the Sharks to prevail though.
Nashville has now lost 5 in a row on the road, and the Rangers looked pretty good offensively against the Devils and the Capitals. I think a little momentum should keep the Rangers rolling along.
Montreal usually plays the Capitals pretty tough, but this again looks to be quite a mismatch. The Caps are the safe prediction.
No betting lines out yet, but if either side is offering good plus-money as the dog, they’d be worth a look. Phoenix has beaten the Wild in all 3 meetings this season, but the Wild are 20-6-2 at home.
Colorado was hot and cold, and now, hot again. Not sure how long it will last though.
Usually, a 6-1 prediction would be bold and shocking, but here, not so much. Edmonton has lost by 6-0 or 6-1 scores in 3 of their last 5 road games, and Anaheim scores in bunches at home.