Computer Picks: January 16th—Sights Set on Saturday Night

Updated: January 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm by Jeff Tay

Let’s not get too excited about Friday night’s results just yet—Saturday night will be the main event.  It’s always nice to pad the overall record with a couple of wins though, especially when there are no losses on the night to accompany them.

January 15th’s results: 2-0 on winners & 2-0 on over/under

Overall Record:

Predictions on Winning Sides: 16-11

Predictions on Over/Under: 15-11-1

Onto more pressing matters though, Saturday’s offering of 12 games on the NHL schedule is a huge bite to chew, and I am still trying to figure out what the most efficient way of delivering all of the required information in these articles is, without typing over 2,000 words a night. For this edition, I’m going to try to be a little less wordy, and use a few visual aids to help my cause. For each of these games, there will be a projected score (on the left), followed by each team’s projected chances of winning (expressed as a percentage to the right of the scores), a projected total (in the middle between the percentages), and also the minimum moneyline odds at which you should bet each of the teams (in decimal format, at the top and bottom of the right column). You will also notice that there will be some graphical icons next to the percentages and totals. These icons represent where these numbers lie in relation to the numbers from the other games that are occurring on the same day. Green arrows pointing up signify that the game is projected to be one of the highest scoring games of the day, yellow arrows signify that the projected total ranks among the middle of the pack, and red arrows pointing down represent that the game is projected to be one of the lowest scoring games of the day. Similarly, the fuller the circle next to the percentages, the higher the corresponding percentage ranks among all the other percentages on the day.

Moving on then, there’s little time to waste. Here are Saturday’s Computer Picks:

Game #1: Detroit Red Wings 3 – Dallas Stars 3

Key Stats: The Detroit Red Wings recently came off a fairly successful 3 and 2 road trip, especially considering the level of the competition that they had to face. However, in the 2 games that they did lose on this road trip, they were not only blown out, but also defeated by teams that they were favoured against (4-1 to Anaheim and 6-0 to the Islanders). Dallas is returning home from a week-long road trip here, which is typically a tough spot, but this game shares many similarities with the last time that these two teams met in Dallas. Back on December 19th, Dallas was also facing Detroit immediately after losing 3 consecutive road games, and the result in that game was a 4-3 Dallas victory.

Best Bet: This game is very much 50%-50%, but if you’re thinking long-run, then you’ll want to take the side that offers plus money. Dallas is hanging around at even right now, and the line doesn’t figure to move, so it’s a borderline decision if you wish to bet it. Detroit is certainly not a road favourite here worth betting on though. The total also figures to be pretty close to the posted 5.5, but there is a slight lean towards the Over.

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Game #2: Chicago Blackhawks 6 – Columbus Blue Jackets 2

Key Stats: As far as plus/minus goes, the Chicago Blackhawks are the best team in hockey, and 9 out of their last 10 victories have actually come by at least 3 goals. Columbus is returning home, where they haven’t scored more than 2 goals in 5 straight and 6 of their last 7. Their home defense, on the other hand, really hasn’t been that bad though, but they haven’t faced a road offense quite as hot as Chicago’s in recent home games.

Best Bet: Chicago is a very rightful road favourite here, and they may very well go on to destroy the Blue Jackets in this game, but I do believe that there are better bets available for Saturday than Chicago at -200. Columbus has been playing to a lot more Unders than Overs lately as well, so I wouldn’t be too sure about this one ending anywhere near 6-2 either.

Game #3: New Jersey Devils 3 – Colorado Avalanche 2

It’s not that New Jersey has been playing that much better than Colorado, but it’s the fact that Colorado’s offense at home has been sporadic lately, that has led to this projected score.  The Avalanche also haven’t managed to push a win streak past 2 games since the 12th game of their season, when they were 9-3, and this current 2-game win streak might be snapped by a New Jersey team that rarely loses 2 in a row.

Best Bet: I have started to become very wary of road favourites as of late, so I would recommend playing this one with a bit of caution. The posted total is a 5.0, so it’s the Over or nothing with regards to that.

Game #4: Edmonton Oilers 1 – San Jose Sharks 3

Key Stats: The Edmonton Oilers’ offense wasn’t much of a threat before they went on a 5 game road win streak, and they haven’t been much of a threat since then either. San Jose’s offense at home has also gone cold as of late, but they’ve played a number of decent to good defensive teams. San Jose defeated Edmonton at home 4-1 just two Saturday’s ago, and Edmonton continues to be mired in a losing streak, about to face a team that has beaten them in 5 straight meetings.

Best Bet: The Under 5.5 is probably the best bet here. There isn’t a lot of money to be made with San Jose -320, and the projected low score makes giving up a goal-and-a-half more difficult to do.

Game #5: Boston Bruins 2 – Los Angeles Kings 2

Key Stats: The Kings have lost 3 out of 4 games on their current home stand, but they’ve only allowed 8 goals in those 4 games. Evidently, offense has been the issue. The Boston Bruins are no offensive juggernaut on the road though, but they can keep the puck out of their own net. This could be a tight defensive game.

Best Bet: Unfortunately, the posted total here is a 5.0, and it’s generally tough to take the Under on these. The Kings are priced nearly perfectly on the moneyline as well at -140, as they are projected to be a 60% favourite. Tough to find a good bet here.

Game #6: Tampa Bay Lightning 2 – Florida Panthers 3

Key Stats: The Lightning are generally a pretty poor road team, and even though they will be looking to return the favour and beat the Panthers in their building after the Panthers did so to them on Thursday, the Lightning have only won the first game of a road trip once this season, while they have lost by 3 to Atlanta, 6 to Ottawa, 4 to Philadelphia, 3 to Boston, and 2 to Buffalo, in this spot. Meanwhile, the Panthers have been just 3-3 in their last 6 at home, but the 3 losses have all come by just 1 goal.

Best Bet: There is legitimate reason for concern with regards to betting on Florida, as the Lightning blew a lead to them in Thursday’s loss, and will really be out for redemption in this one. This is a bet that might be worth skipping. The O/U 5.5 also doesn’t seem too enticing either way.

Game #7: Buffalo Sabres 1 – New York Islanders 2

Key Stats: Here is our first bold prediction of the night. There isn’t really much wrong with Buffalo’s 13-6 record away from home, but 5 of their last 6 road wins have actually come by just 1 goal. Furthermore, 6 out of Buffalo’s last 7 games overall have actually been 1-goal games. The Islanders also have a similar trend going for them, in that they had actually played 8 consecutive 1-goal games before they beat Detroit 6-0 on Wednesday. The Islanders have won their last 3 home games, and 4 of their last 5 overall, and they also beat Buffalo 5-0 at home earlier in the season, when both teams were playing back-ends of back-to-backs. Don’t be surprised if we see a close game here.

Best Bet: There Islanders are a worthwhile home dog to look at here at +125, especially given how impressive they looked against the Red Wings. I do have some concerns about the Under 5.5 though, due to both teams’ abilities to score as of late, but I would agree that this game should go under more often than not.

Game #8: Ottawa Senators 2 – Montreal Canadiens 3

Key Stats: The Ottawa Senators may have beaten the Rangers on Thursday, but they still haven’t scored more than 2 goals in a game since losing Daniel Alfredsson to injury. Montreal’s 5-3 win over Dallas on Thursday may have been a sign that their offense has been reawakened. Montreal would love to even the season series against a division rival here while they are still riddled with injuries.

Best Bet: The Canadiens -155 is a fair price, and the line probably wouldn’t have been this generous had the Senators lost to the Rangers and extended their losing streak to 6 games.  The Under 5.5 is also worth a look.

Game #9: Minnesota Wild 1 – Phoenix Coyotes 2

Key Stats: The Minnesota Wild have made a habit of losing the second game of every single road trip this season, and doing so by scoring in moderation. They have also only managed 3 goals total in their last 3 road games, and it won’t get any easier in Phoenix. On the other hand, the Coyotes have had some tough games as of late, causing them to lose 5 out of their last 7 overall, and the first 2 games of their current home stand, but the Minnesota Wild as a road team should offer a good opportunity for them to get back on track after most recently allowing 3 goals, 3 goals, and 5 goals, in their last 3 home games.

Best Bet: The Phoenix Coyotes are actually laying a very short price at -140. This is a 17-9 home team against an 8-17 road team. This game is also projected to be the lowest scoring game of the night, but of course, a total of 5.0 is posted here, which means even a 2-2 score in regulation would mean just a push.

Game #10: New York Rangers 2 – St Louis Blues 2

Key Stats: The New York Rangers are 5-0-1 in their last 6 road games, and are coming off being shut out in consecutive games. They should be figured to score at least 1 or 2 goals in this game. They’ve also gone 8 straight road games without giving up more than 2 goals, and 9 games overall with the same feat. The Blues may have turned things around with their new coach, but only time will tell. For now, they still own one of the worst home records in the league at 8-17.

Best Bet: I would have liked the Rangers to be priced a little more generously than where they are right now. Apparently, their loss to the Senators didn’t do enough to detract the public from betting on them. The Rangers are still figured to be a good bet at +105 though. You probably know how I feel about Under 5.0 bets in general by now.

Game #11: Atlanta Thrashers 4 – Carolina Hurricanes 4

Key Stats: One of the strongest trends with relation to this game, is the fact that the Atlanta Thrashers have not played in 2 consecutive games that have gone under the posted total all season long, and they are coming off a very low scoring game against Buffalo on Thursday. Even though, Carolina’s overall defense has improved dramatically in the past 2 weeks, Atlanta’s defense on the road has not. Atlanta may not have allowed very many goals to the Rangers, Ottawa, and Buffalo in their recent home stand, but all 3 of those teams score less than 2.5 goals per game on the road. Their last meeting in Carolina on November 27th featured 70 shots on goal and a 6-4 final.

Best bet: Atlanta has played to 26 Overs and 15 Unders this season, and every one of those games has featured a posted total of at least 6.0. This is projected to be the highest scoring game of the night, so the Over 6.0 looks to be a good bet. The only real concern is the recent play of Cam Ward, who has allowed just 7 goals in his last 4 games, but both teams allow plenty of scoring chances to opposing teams. There isn’t much value on the moneyline though for either of these teams, given their projected chances of winning.

Game#12: Pittsburgh Penguins 2 – Vancouver Canucks 2

Key Stats: The Penguins are actually struggling to win games, and if it wasn’t for how little offensive firepower the two Alberta teams had to offer, they would be having a very rough road trip. There might be a little extra intangible buzz in this one though, as this will be the city where a few of the Penguin players will be competing for Olympic gold in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, the Canucks are on a 3-game losing streak and their top-ranked home offense has suddenly gone missing for 2 straight games. Both teams appear to be a bit out of sync at the moment, but more so on offense than on defense.

Best Bet: If recent trends continue, then the Under 5.5 is the way to bet this one. Marc-Andre Fleury looked very sharp in his two starts in Alberta, stopping 70 out of 73 shots faced (.959 save%), and Roberto Luongo will look to bounce back from a rough outing in Minnesota. Vancouver is priced a bit too steeply at -130 since they haven’t been at their best in recent games. Pass on the both teams on the moneyline.

Final Output: For the most part, the predictions for this Saturday will be on the home teams and the Unders—not  a bad way to go given how a lot of Saturdays so far this season have gone. On a side note: congratulations to those who had the over 2000.5 words for today’s article. I’ve really got to find a way to cut it down.

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