By the end of Tuesday, the NHL schedule would have provided us with a total of 32 games in a span of 4 days. As such, there have been a number of teams that have had to deal with various forms of tough scheduling over the past few days, including participating in back-to-back games and strenuous travel plans. I may have realized this fact about a day or two too late to truly take full advantage of it (for example, about 70% of the games during this span so far have gone over their posted totals), but fortunately, the opportunity hasn’t completely passed yet. Tuesday will be the last day of this hectic flurry of games, and it will feature a total of 8 teams (out of 16) that will be participating in the back end of back-to-back games.
I believe that, based on the trends that have occurred over the past few days, extra attention should be paid on Tuesday towards games that have the potential to be high-scoring, as well as towards teams that could be sluggish after a very busy 4 day stretch. Let’s see what we can find:
Over/Under of the Day: New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Over 5.5
Key Factors: There are a number of games on Tuesday that are projected to produce a lot of goals, and this game, by a slight margin over the CHI/OTT game, is projected to produce the most goals on the day. The Islanders will be in a back-to-back situation here, where over the course of this season, on the road, they have allowed 4.6 goals per game. New York is also running a strong offense right now, even on the road, where they have scored 11 goals in their last 3 games, against the likes of Colorado, Dallas, and Phoenix. At the other end of the rink, will be the Pittsburgh Penguins who are coming off a lopsided loss on Saturday to the Canucks. After recent lopsided losses, the Penguins have bounced back to win big, as seen in an 8-2 home win over Ottawa after losing 4-0, a 5-2 home win over Atlanta after a 6-2 loss, and a 4-1 win on the road over Toronto after losing 7-4. Couple these stats with the fact that Brent Johnson will be returning off a groin injury to start for Pittsburgh, and there is a lot to like about the Over 5.5.
Fave of the Day: Atlanta Thrashers -140 (1.71)
Key Factors: The Toronto Maple Leafs are coming off a win. For many teams, that would mean a bit of momentum to be carried over to the next game, but that really hasn’t been the case for the Leafs since mid-December, which was the last time that they actually won consecutive games. Since that time, the Leafs have had 5 wins (including the one on Monday in Nashville), and the previous 4 wins have been followed by losses, with the last 3 losses being by at least 2 goals. Of course, the Atlanta Thrashers are no powerhouse themselves, but a case can be made for them being a home team that beats who they are supposed to beat. Their most recent home losses have come against the likes of Buffalo, Washington, Montreal, and New Jersey, whereas their most recent home wins have come against Ottawa, the New York Rangers, and Dallas. They should feel that they are a favourite to win Tuesday’s game as well, and put forth the same kind of effort that they have when in that position.
Dog of the Day: Detroit Red Wings +150 (2.50)
Key Factors: Detroit proved something during their last extended road trip—that they play better road games when they against quality opponents. In their last 6 road games, Detroit has won 3 games as an underdog, and lost the other 3 games as a road favourite. They are a well-coached and veteran-savvy team that doesn’t need to be faster or more explosive than the other team to win, and in this case, they will certainly be aware of how explosive the other team is. As far as Washington goes, there really isn’t much to suggest that they won’t be at their best on Tuesday. This is simply good value for an underdog, in a game where two teams are projected to be at the top of their games. I’ll admit though, that I do feel uneasy about betting it, but I have also found a few good opinions out there that are in support of this bet as well.
Editor’s Choice: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Ottawa Senators Over 5.5
Key Factors: The Blackhawks, of course, have a very potent offense, but I also like the fact that they have had some issues with keeping the puck out of their own net in recent road games. On this current road trip, they have allowed 3 goals to Detroit and 5 goals to Columbus, and their last 6 road games have all gone way over the total (at least 7 goals in each game). At the other end, are the Ottawa Senators, who appear to be a completely different team with Daniel Alfredsson in the lineup. After going a long stretch of not scoring more than 2 goals in any game, the Sens have scored 9 goals in their last 2 games with the return of their captain. It might be disconcerting that Ottawa has only allowed 3 goals in their last 3 games, but it sure doesn’t look like any of their last 3 opponents have had anywhere near the offensive firepower of the Chicago Blackhawks. Given the events of the last 3 days, I am looking to play an Over on Tuesday, and I feel very comfortable taking this one. Give me the Over 5.5.
Other Games: At one point in time, it looked like the Sharks were simply getting owned by the Kings and Coyotes. They have somewhat turned that trend around now, but the Kings are still worth a look. Some of the other home teams though are laying too much juice. Here are the predictions: