Computer Picks: 20/01/2010—Will There be an After-Party?

Updated: January 20, 2010 at 11:29 am by Jeff Tay

As the busiest 4-day stretch of the season so far comes to an end, I can’t help but wonder if another similar stretch will be coming anytime soon. As I mentioned yesterday, there were a total of 34 games that took place between Saturday and Tuesday, which resulted in a multitude of tired and mistake-prone teams. The results from all this madness: nearly 75% of all the games which took place during this stretch went over their posted totals, and the home teams (who generally spent less time traveling) went 25-9. For the bettors who managed to capitalize on this early and often, they must have had some really great weekends, but for those of us who caught on somewhere near the end, we may simply be feeling like we missed out on one heck of a party.

Now that normalcy has begun to resume though, it is time to put away the wacky all-purpose trends, and actually go back to relying on good analysis and sound knowledge to make picks (which is kind of a bummer). Here is the computers’ analysis of Wednesday’s matchups between a couple of adequately-rested teams:

Over/Under of the Day: Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils Under 5.5

Key Factors: If nothing else, New Jersey will be looking to bounce back from a nightmarish road trip, which saw them win their first 2 games in OT/SO, and lose their last 3 games in regulation. There haven’t been too many times this season where the Devils have given up 4 or more goals in a game, such as how they did in their last game to the Islanders, but what has actually not happened at all this season has been the Devils giving up that many goals in consecutive games. In fact, in the 11 previous games following outings where they gave up 4 or more goals, the Devils have had 2 shutouts and 4 games where they held the opposition to just 1 goal. Florida also has many recent trends which favour the Under here. Their last 7 road games have all gone under 5.5, and in these 7 games they have scored just an average of 2.14 goals per game while giving up an average of that exact same number. This could turn out to be either a goaltending duel or just a battle of two unproductive offenses.

Fave of the Day: Montreal Canadiens -125 (1.80)

Key Factors: It’s slim pickings on a night with only 3 games, so if you’re looking for the favourite that offers the best value, it seems to be Montreal as a 57% winner at -125. One big factor that favours Montreal is the fact that they are coming off an ugly loss. The last time they lost by 4 on the road, they returned home right afterwards to beat Boston 5-1. There isn’t a ton of positivity happening for this team right now though, as they’ve won just 2 out of their last 7 games overall, but on their last home stand they did alternate wins and losses (which is just about the most positive thing that I can say about them right now). St Louis on the other hand, after finally figuring out how to win at home (just fire head coach Andy Murray), has now been losing on the road, albeit against a few tough opponents. Scoring, at times, has been a big issue for St Louis though, and Montreal should be a bit sharper defensively after giving up 6 to the Rangers on Sunday. If they are sharp enough, they might just get that 3-2 victory, but the system is really telling us to lay off this game when the projected profit is only $1.86 after 100 simulated $1 bets. Nothing to look at here, move it along.

Dog of the Day: Edmonton Oilers +155 (2.55)

Key Factors: The idea of betting on the Oilers right now makes me cringe, and knowing that I have to write a paragraph to provide some reasoning behind this prediction makes me feel woozy. I noticed that the system isn’t necessarily basing this prediction on how “well” the Oilers are playing right now though, and is rather also taking into the unfavourable spot for the Canucks as reason for a possible close game. One factor that the Canucks will be dealing with here is being too well-rested. The Canucks had multiple days of rest before playing the Penguins on Saturday, and have had now had multiple days of rest again for this game. On the road this season, the Canucks have had a couple of sluggish games under similar circumstances, including a 4-2 loss to Nashville and a 6-1 loss to St Louis. Furthermore, the Canucks have also had a habit of letting up against lower-ranked opponents on the road this season. Their record as a road favourite so far has actually been 1-6, and coming off a blowout win over Pittsburgh, they won’t be particularly hungry to get this win either. I don’t want to bet on Edmonton, but I don’t really want to bet the Canucks as a road favourite either, after looking at some of the numbers.

Editor’s Choice: Florida Panthers +1.5 goals (puck-line)

Key Factors: Anytime that you can get a team +1.5 goals at low juice it is worth a look. As of the moment that I am writing this (4 AM PT), the betting odds for this game are still a mystery, but I do know that the last time that the Panthers were at New Jersey, they were priced as a +200 underdog, and they won that game by a score of 4-2. The Devils will certainly be seeking revenge here, but this is the dreaded first game back from a long road trip spot for them. Both head-to-head meetings this season have favoured Florida +1.5 goals, and seeing as how this has the potential to be a low-scoring affair, there is even more reason to support it.

Usually, I am quite relieved to see a day with less than 8 games on the schedule, but I actually don’t think that these Wednesday games have that much to offer. I would really like to see what everybody else has penciled in on their betting slips.