NHL Betting: The Week's Biggest Stories
by Trevor Whenham - 12/29/2008
With the year coming to an end, it seems like putting down the turkey sandwich and looking back to what has happened in the NHL so far this season would be a good idea. Giving out year end awards is far from an original idea, but being unoriginal has never stood in my way before. Here are the Midseason NHL Betting Awards:
Top Team - This one isn't even a contest. From both a play perspective and a betting perspective the clear winner in the Boston Bruins. They are tied with the Sharks for the best record in the league. They have lost just once in regulation at home. At 14-4-0-3 they are almost impossibly consistent on the road. They have covered the spread 28 times in 35 tries. This was a team with fairly modest expectations coming into the season, but they have exceeded them in every possible way.
Team That Should Fold - Ottawa. The Senators normally wait until the playoffs to start playing well below expectations. This year, despite having a fairly talented roster, they have been terrible. They can't score, they only barely play defense, and their goaltending has been terrible. Incredibly bad. They have just three wins in 16 road games.
MVP - Evgeni Malkin might have the most points, but Alexander Ovechkin is my choice. The Capitals are better than the Penguins, and Ovechkin leads the way essentially by himself. He has made Nicklas Backstrom look like a superstar, he's been consistently excellent, and he has turned into a quiet, effective leader. No team would be worse with the loss of one player than Washington would be without Ovechkin.
Best Goalie - It's a tie between Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez. The two Bruins have had to share time, and they have been spectacular. They are third and fourth in the league n goals against average, second and fourth in save percentage, and both in the Top 13 in wins despite sharing time. They have been a huge key to the success of the team, and they have done it completely without ego.
Top Coach - Joel Quenneville, Chicago. Quenneville took over a talented but confused team in strange circumstances after the season had started. He has got the team turned around, and he has them playing as well as a team this young and inexperienced possibly can.
Worst Coach - Dave Tippett, Dallas. It's not just because Tippett has wasted a tremendous amount of talent and potential. It's that he has regularly let his team pout, and he has let a number of situations turn into far more than they should. Tippett has made a molehill out of a mountain, and he should be fired sooner rather than later.
Most Costly Long Term Injury - Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh. The Penguins have been let down badly by their defense, and the total absence of Gonchar is the biggest part of the reason. Gonchar is not only an elite defenseman, but he is also the defensive quarterback of the team. Without him in the lineup, Pittsburgh's mostly talentless defensive corps has been mistake-filled and consistently disappointing. With the two leading scorers in the league, this team should be much better than they are, and they would be with better defense.
Most Overrated Long Term Injury - Martin Brodeur, New Jersey. I was as worried as anyone when Brodeur went down. He has played so much and for so long that New Jersey has had no experience playing without him, and they hadn't developed a backup at the pro level. Scott Clemmensen has brushed all those worries aside, though. He has been brilliant, and his 12-6 record and stingy goals against average have been much appreciated by attentive bettors.
Best Home Bet - San Jose. They have 18 wins in 20 games at home, and they have never lost in regulation. If you can't make money with a team like that then you can't make money.
Worst Home Bet - Atlanta. Six wins in 19 games. Disastrous.
Best Road bet - Pittsburgh. They don't have the best road record, but they are the most useful bet. That's because they are significantly better on the road than they are at home. That's contrary to expectations, and handy because that's not what the public expects.
Worst Road Bet - Ottawa. They are 9-9 at home, and 3-13 away from home.
Best Overall Bet - Boston. The Bruins just keep getting better.
Worst Overall Bet - Dallas. Given their talent and expectations, Dallas has been a perfect storm of money-burning.