What’s incredible right now in this early season is the tumultuous play by goalies who are regularly counted on to be consistent plays. Cam Ward, Steve Mason, Jonas Hiller, Tomas Vokoun and Niklas Backstrom are all struggling right now and their teams are struggling with them. Until they turn it around, it’s going to be difficult relying on them.
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Washington Capitals -170 at Atlanta Thrashers +150
These two teams met Oct 22 in Atlanta and piled on the goals in a 5-4 Washington victory. Washington has score 3 or more goals in 5 straight games. Atlanta, on the other hand, is playing their first game of the season without leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk, who has scored a goal in 5 of Atlanta’s 7 over totals. Slava Kozlov is on the top line now and will need to step up his 3-point performance so far this season into something that translates into his 76 point season last year. Atlanta’s goalies are struggling in their last two games, each of them getting yanked in the second period of their starts, which bodes well for the Caps’ offense. The Caps have a solid 3.8 goals for on the road which matches up well against the 29th-ranked home defense for the Thrashers 4.0 goals against at home. The Thrashers make up for that poor defense with a better offense, at 4.3 goals for in 3 home games. If Bruce Boudreau follows his alternating goalie starts, Semyon Varlamov should get the nod tonight and he has struggled mightily on the road, with a 5.11 GAA in 2 starts.
Pick: Over 6.0 goals -125
Phoenix Coyotes +120 at St. Louis Blues -140
Both of these teams betrayed my under call last night but their respective defenses weren’t the ones that collapsed. The Blues only allowed 2 against the Canes while the Coyotes only allowed 1 against the recently-high scoring Blue Jackets. It appears as if the Coyotes’ defensive relapse is over and hopefully Bryzgalov has recovered from his conescutive poor starts against the Rangers and Kings as he gets the nod tonight. In Phoenix, earlier this season, these teams skated to a 3-2 Coyotes victory. In their last 4 meetings against each other in St. Louis, the game total has gone under 3 times. Look for more of the same with the league’s 3rd and 9th ranked defences facing off tonight.
Pick: Under 5.5 goals -130
Chicago Blackhawks -170 at Nashville Predators +150
This is already the third meeting of the season for these two teams and Chicago has already taken the first two meetings. Despite beating the Wild in Minnesota last night, the Predators are still a lesser team than the Blackhawks, still averaging a league-worst 1.8 goals per game and only 1.3 goals per game in 4 home games this season. Better yet, the Preds still haven’t scored a powerplay goal at home in 13 opportunities. The Hawks, led again by Cristobal Huet, seem resurged after dropping two straight, and have been beating up on sub-.500 teams for two straight wins, allowing only 1 goal over both games. The Hawks get a gift, catching the Preds on the second game of back-to-back away games.
Pick: Hawks -170
Detroit Red Wings -145 at Edmonton Oilers +125
The Red Wings showed that they aren’t ready to roll over just quite yet after coming from behind twice to beat the Canucks. Detroit will be going with Jimmy Howard again tonight and it’s a great matchup because the Oilers have been decimated by the flu (and some the swine flu). Edmonton hasn’t scored a goal in two games and is obviously showing weakness while the flu spreads throughout the team. Add the latest flu cases to their previous injuries and the Oilers have 4 regular D-men on the mend, 2 out indefinitely. The Wings know this is a must-win game for them as they will face a tough test against the Flames on Saturday. Jimmy Howard played relatively well, particularly with the game on the line, and the Wings’ new (old) top line responded well, being on the ice for 4 of the 5 goals scored. Detroit has won all 5 of the last 5 meetings between these two teams and is in line again to put up consecutive road victories.
Pick: Wings -145
Betting results by category so far this season:
- Money Line 19-23, -17.61
- Puck Line 5-8, -2.5
- Totals 19-14-1, -0.24