5-7: If I ever meet Roberto Luongo, I will have an invoice ready for him to recoup the losses he has caused me so far this year. Without the Luongo softies, the Canucks roll to a 3-2 victory giving me a parlayed victory. But that’s why it’s near impossible to predict an outcome but somebody has to do it! That said, let’s tackle some of today’s games.
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Tampa Bay Lightning +135 at Carolina Hurricanes -155
Based on their recent play, you’d expect this game to be a shootout. Carolina just lost 7-2 to Boston and Tampa just lost 6-3 to Atlanta. The only problem is, both teams showed that their offenses are flat – neither team can muster up any goals. Tampa scorers could hardly put the puck past Atlanta backup Ondrej Pavelec and Carolina hasn’t been able to muster up anything against Boston or Philly (2 goals total). Cam Ward was shelled playing at Boston but played reasonably well at home against Philadelphia, only surrendering two goals. Ward is a better goalie than he has showed and at risk of getting Luongo’d, I predict a solid game out of him tonight. Mike Smith is also a better goalie than the 6 goals he let in against Tampa Bay… he’ll also have an Erik Cole-less anemic Hurricanes offense shooting pucks at him. To top this risky pick off, the total has gone under in 4 of Carolina’s last 5 games when playing Tampa Bay.
Pick: Under 6.0 -120
Washington Capitals +105 at Philadelphia Flyers -125
Ray Emery has a sparkling 1.00 GAA and a shut-out over the first two games of the season with wins coming against Carolina and New Jersey. Meanwhile, Washington has been an offensive superpower scoring 10 goals over their first two games, against Boston and Toronto. It’s the Toronto game that really concerns me about Washington starter Semyon Varlamov, though. He allowed 4 goals on 31 shots against the lowly Leafs offense – 3 of them in the third. Varlamov did not look as solid, or as tested as Jose Theodore did in Boston, which is probably why he is getting the start tonight. Philly’s offense hammered (a somewhat shaky) Martin Brodeur for 5 goals, in New Jersey, on Saturday and Varlamov provides another good chance for them to put a few pucks in the net.
Pick: Over 6.0 -120
Montreal Canadiens +150 at Calgary Flames -170
Both the Habs and Flames are off to 2-0 starts but for different reasons. The Flames’ offense has provided the boost they need, averaging 4.5 goals per game against good goalies like Luongo (ugh..) and Khabibulin. Price has played well in the Canadiens’ first couple games but Jaroslav Halak will get the start tonight against Kiprusoff. Halak, making his first start of the season, gives Calgary a better chance to win as he is 1-1 with a 3.51 GAA in two games vs. the Flames. Miikka Kiprusoff is 4-3 with a 2.84 GAA in 8 games vs. the Habs. Montreal forward Mike Cammalleri is also making his return to his former team, and I’m unsure if he’ll respond by potting in 5 goals or disappearing. The Flames have gone 5-1-1 SU in their last 7 games when playing at home against Montreal, dating back to 2000. Last season, the Flames went 6-2 against Northeast Division opponents.
Pick: Calgary -170
San Jose Sharks -140 at Los Angeles Kings +120
San Jose is a better team than the one that lost to Colorado and showed it when they beat a gritty Ducks team in Anaheim. The Sharks held down the Ducks’ RPG line and potted 4 goals against the a tough Jonas Hiller. The Kings, on the other hand, and starter Jonathan Quick were shelled 6-3 in what should’ve been an easy home win against the lowly Coyotes. This kind of start has me seriously questioning the Kings’ defense and goalie situation – LA D-man Drew Doughty had two costly turnovers resulting in goals. A lone bright spot for the Kings was their powerplay, converting 3 of 4 chances with the man advantage. They will have difficulty repeating those numbers against the Sharks and their 82% PK percentage. The Sharks have a very favourable line here and are a recommended play against what looks to be a shaky Kings team.
Pick: Sharks -140
Luongo isn’t playing today so that’s a good sign!