NHL Handicapping: Weekend Hockey Betting Primer
by Dave Schwab - 11/25/2011
As we reach the quarter pole of the 2011-12 NHL schedule, a good portion of the 30 teams find themselves in the middle-of-the-pack in their respective conference standings. However, a few teams have been able to separate themselves from the pack with not only strong play on the ice, but also in terms of performance against the puck line, the money line, and the total line.
The following is a look at which teams are hot in both of these areas and which ones are not, along with a couple of NHL free picks for Friday games.
Who is Hot
The team that has been embedded at the top of this list all season long is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not only do they lead the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 12-6-4 and 28 points, they have provided the highest return on the money line at +1066. The Penguins have also been profitable against the puck line at 13-9.
A team that has been climbing the charts over the past few weeks is the Detroit Red Wings. After a slow start Detroit now finds itself in second place in the Western Conference’s Central Division with 25 points and an overall record of 12-7-1. It is also the second-best team in terms of the money line at +1013 and 12-8 against the puck line.
A few other teams that have provided a solid return on the money line are Nashville at +821, Winnipeg at +730, Minnesota at +657, and San Jose at +630. The Jets have also been the best team against the puck line this season at 16-5.
Who is Not
The permanent fixture on this dubious list is the New York Islanders. Not only do they have the worst record in the East at 5-10-4 and just 14 points, but they have been the biggest drain on the bankroll at -1446 and a dismal 7-12 against the puck line. The Islanders have provided little hope for any kind a quick turnaround with a 2-6-2 record in their last 10 games.
The head scratcher on this list is the Washington Capitals. They are 12-7-1 overall on the year and just two points behind Florida in the Southeast Division, but a 4-5-1 record in their last 10 games has dropped the Capitals to -776 on the money line and a league-worst 5-15 against the puck line.
A few other drains on the bankroll have been Anaheim at -1117, Colorado at -1112, Carolina at -953, and Columbus at -953.
Friday’s Top Plays
The first game that jumps off the page has the New York Rangers (+130) taking I-95 south to Washington to square-off against the Capitals (-150). The Rangers are currently in third place in the Atlantic Division at 10-5-3 overall and have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They have 23 points and are just five points in back of the Penguins in the division. As mentioned, the Capitals are in second place in their division and while they have won their last two games, they have only won four of their last 10.
These two teams faced one another nine times last season, including the playoffs, and while the Rangers won the regular season 3-1, Washington won the best-of-seven series in the postseason 4-1. Current form favors New York in this game as it draws first blood in this year’s series.
The Pick: New York 4, Washington 2
The second play on Friday’s slate is between two of the most surprising teams in the NHL this season; the Edmonton Oilers (+120) and the Minnesota Wild (-140). The Oilers finished at the bottom of the Western Conference last season and the Wild ended-up 12th. This season, Edmonton is 11-8-2 and in second-place in the Northwest Division with 24 points, while Minnesota leads the Northwest with 29 points and an overall record of 13-5-3.
In two previous games this year, Minnesota won both in identical 2-1 shootouts. The Wild have actually won nine of the last 10 games in this series, but the strongest play for this matchup is the ‘under’ on the total line. The total has stayed ‘under’ in five of the last six meetings and the Wild lead the league with the lowest goals-against-average at 1.95 and the Oilers are ranked 10that 2.32.
The Pick: UNDER 5 Goals
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