NHL Handicapping: Weekend Hockey Betting Primer
by Dave Schwab - 11/11/2011
While the majority of the 30 teams in the NHL are currently in the middle-of-the-pack in the standings, there are a few teams that have already separated themselves not just with their play on the ice but against the puck line, the money line, and the total line. The following is a look at who is hot and who is not along with a couple of picks for Friday night’s games.
Who is Hot
After roughly six weeks of action, the hottest team in both of these categories has been the Pittsburgh Penguins. They currently lead the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 9-3-3 and 22 points and have provided the highest return on the money line at +966. The Penguins also have an excellent record against the puck-line at 10-5.
The fast start is even more impressive given the fact that Pittsburgh’s best player, Sidney Crosby, remains sidelined while trying to fully recover from a devastating concussion he sustained last season.
The next team on the list is the Edmonton Oilers. After finishing last season with the worst record in the league, they have jumped-out to a 9-3-2 start that has them in first place in the Western Conference’s Northwest Division.
The Oilers early success has been a financial windfall for anyone who has been brave enough to consistently wager on the team this season. Edmonton has a 12-2 record against the puck line and is +861 on the money line. It has also been a solid play on the total line for ‘under’ bettors with 11 of its first 14 games staying ‘under’ the total.
Right behind the Oilers in the Northwest are the Minnesota Wild. This is another team that has been able to turn things around with a record of 8-3-3 and 19 points in its first 14 games this season.
The Wild head into tonight’s game against San Jose with a five-game winning streak. Minnesota has also been an early cash cow with a +941 return on the money line and an 11-3 record against the puck line. It too has provided a great return on the ‘under’ play with nine of its first 14 games staying ‘under’ the total.
Who is Not
The Columbus Blue Jackets have vaulted to the top of this list with a dismal 2-11-1 start that has them firmly at the bottom of the Western Conference with just five points.
Columbus is averaging 2.21 goals a game and has a league-worst 3.71 goals-against-average, which is an obvious recipe for disaster. The Blue Jackets have also been a disaster on the money line with a -929 return. Their record against the puck line is not nearly as bad at 5-9.
The only team in the league that has been a bigger drain on the bankroll when it comes to the money line has been the Montreal Canadiens at -1046. They have also been a drain against the puck line at 4-10. On the Ice, Montreal has been a bit better at 5-7-2, but it is currently tied for second-to-last in the Eastern Conference with 12 points.
Friday’s NHL Picks
In what could be a possible early preview of this season’s Stanley Cup Finals, the Dallas Stars (+115) face-off against Pittsburgh (-135) in a 7 p.m. start at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Dallas comes in as the top team in the West with an overall record of 11-3 and an NHL-best 22 points. Dallas pounded the Penguins, 5-2, as a slight -101 home favorite in their only meeting last year, and in 2009 Pittsburgh cruised to a 6-3 victory as a robust -224 home favorite.
The Penguins should open as a moderate home favorite on the money line and remain a solid play given that the home team in this series is 7-2 in the last nine meetings.
The Pick: Pittsburgh 4, Dallas 3
The next top play has Edmonton (+160) on the road against the Detroit Red Wings (-180) with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m. from Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit has opened the season at 7-5-1 and brings a modest two-game winning streak into this contest.
The Oilers will be playing their second road game in a row after a Thursday night tilt against Boston. Last season, the Red Wings swept the four-game series to extend their winning streak over Edmonton to five games.
The total went ‘over’ in three of the five meetings with a total line set at 5.5 for each game, but the early trends for both teams favor a low-scoring game this time around. So far, 19 of the combined 27 games these two teams have played this season have stayed ‘under’ the total.
The Pick: UNDER
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