NHL Handicapping: Weekend Hockey Betting Primer
by Dave Schwab - 11/18/2011
After six weeks of games in the 2011-12 NHL schedule, the majority of the 30 teams are currently somewhere in the middle-of-the-pack in their respective conference standings. However, 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 which teams are hot in both of these areas and which ones are not, along with a couple of free NHL picks for Friday night’s games.
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Who is Hot
The Pittsburgh Penguins have owned the top spot on this list in the early going of this season. Not only are they the top team in the Eastern Conference with a record of 11-4-3 and 25 points, the Penguins have been a financial boon on the money line at +1246. They have also been a solid bet against the puck line at 12-6. Pittsburgh is averaging three goals a game even with Sidney Crosby still out of the lineup and has been stingy on defense as well with a goals-against-average of 2.28.
The second team on the list is also one of the biggest surprises this season after finishing 12th in the Western Conference last season. The Minnesota Wild have jumped out to a 10-5-3 record this season and lead the Northwest Division with 23 points. They recently reeled-off five straight victories and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The reason that Minnesota is on this list is a healthy +757 return on the money line and a 13-5 record against the puck line. The team’s goals-against-average of just 2.06 has also made the Wild a better-than-average play on the total line with 10 of their 18 games staying ‘under’ the total.
A couple of other teams that have provided a good return on the money line are Nashville at +744, Florida at +716 and Detroit at +708. The Predators have also done well against the puck line at 11-6 and the Panthers are a profitable 12-5.
Who is Not
It’s almost unfair to put the Columbus Blue Jackets at the top of this list only because they have been so bad that a number of bettors have probably already won a bundle wagering against them. Through their first 17 games they have gone 3-13-1 and have a grand total of seven points. Columbus is already 12 points out of the eighth spot in the West. It has also been a drain on the wallet at a league-worst -1353 on the money line and 5-12 against the puck line.
The Carolina Hurricanes are 6-10-3 on the year with a total of 15 points, but they could be considered one of those middle-of-the-road teams given that they are just four points out of the eighth spot in the East. The Hurricanes have not even been that bad against the puck line at 9-10, but the reason they are on this list is a 3-7 record in their last 10 games and an overall return on the money line of -1209.
A few other bankroll-busters this season have been the New York Islanders at -1092, Colorado at – 823, Tampa Bay at -638, and Los Angeles at -630. The Kings have also been the worst team against the puck line at 5-13.
Friday’s Top Plays
The first game on tap has the Buffalo Sabres (-130) travelling to Carolina (+110) to take-on the Hurricanes. Buffalo has risen to the top of the Northeast Division in the Eastern Conference with an overall record of 11-7 and 22 points. The Sabres are coming off a 5-3 setback to New Jersey on Wednesday night as -164 home favorites, but had won five of six games before that loss. The Hurricanes were shut out 4-0 by Montreal as +125 road underdogs on Wednesday night to post their sixth loss in their last seven games.
Each team won once on the road and once at home last season in the four-game series. On Oct. 14, Carolina outscored the Sabres 4-3 as a +156 road underdog. Stick with Buffalo to even the score with a road win of its own this Friday night.
The Pick: Buffalo 3, Carolina 1
The second play of the night is a Western Conference matchup between Chicago (-120)and Calgary (EVEN). The Blackhawks come into this one with a four-game winning streak and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They lead the Western Conference with 27 points and have an overall record of 12-4-3. Calgary is currently last in the Northwest Division at 7-9-1 overall and eight points back with a total of 15. The Flames have gone 2-4 in their last six games.
Earlier this month Chicago beat Calgary 4-1 as a 153 home favorite and have now beaten the Flames in eight of the last 10 meetings. Look for the Blackhawks to open as a mild road favorite on the money line and add to the Flames recent misery to take a 2-0 lead in the season series.
The Pick: Chicago 4, Calgary 2
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