NHL Handicapping: Weekend Hockey Betting Primer With Free Picks
by Dave Schwab - 12/29/2011
As December comes to a close, the NHL is now three months into its 82-game marathon to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We now have more than enough statistical information to assess each team’s performance in terms of not only how they have done on the ice, but what kind of return they have provided against the puck line and on the money line.
While a good majority of the teams are mired in the middle-of-the-pack in both categories, a few teams have been able to distinguish themselves in either a positive and negative way.
The following is a brief recap of the ‘hot and not’ teams in the NHL, along with a couple of free hockey picks for Friday’s games.
Who is Hot
The Detroit Red Wings continue to hold the top spot on our list with the most profitable return on the money line in the NHL at +2060 and a 22-14 record against the puck line. The Red Wings are 7-3 in their last 10 games with the last two being wins. They are three points behind Chicago in the Central Division with 47 points and have an overall record of 23-12-1.
The Boston Bruins extended their current winning streak to seven games this past Wednesday night with a 2-1 overtime victory over Phoenix as -183 road favorites. The defending champions now lead the Eastern Conference with 49 points and are 24-9-1 overall. The reason the Bruins rank so high on our list is because they have the second-best return on the money line at +1644. They are currently 18-16 against the puck line.
One of the biggest surprises this season has been the Winnipeg Jets. They are in the thick of the Southeast Division race with 39 points and have an overall record of 17-14-5. The Jets’ recent form with six victories in their last 10 games has boosted their return on the money line to +1467 and improved their NHL-best record against the puck line to 26-10.
Who is Not
The Tampa Bay Lightning knocked-off Philadelphia, 5-1, this past Tuesday night as +125 home underdogs for their third win in their last five games, but it may be a bit premature to take them off the top of this list given their overall body of work this season. Tampa Bay still has the costliest return on the money line by a long shot at -1734 and is an equally expensive 14-21 against the puck line. Overall, the Lightning are 15-17-3 with a total of 33 points.
The Los Angeles Kings numbers are a bit deceiving with an overall record of 18-14-5 and five wins in their last 10 games, including two straight, but their dismal 11-26 record against the puck line keeps them near the top of our list. The Kings also remain costly on the money line with the third-worst return in the league at -1379.
Friday’s Top Plays
The first game on the slate pits the New York Rangers on the road against the Florida Panthers in a showdown between two Eastern Conference division leaders. New York comes into this game fresh off a 4-1 loss to Washington on Wednesday night as a -104 road favorite, which was just its third loss in its last seven games. The Rangers lead the Atlantic Division with 48 points and are 22-9-4 overall. The Panthers are coming off a 5-3 win over Toronto as -125 home favorites this past Wednesday. They are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games and 19-11-7 overall. Florida leads the Southeast Division with 45 points.
Each team has already beaten the other once at home this season, but the Rangers have won six of the last nine games dating back to the 2009-10 season. They have also played very well on the road this season with an 11-6-2 record and have the second-best goals-against-average in the league at 2.09. Stick with New York to successfully shut the Panthers down to post another hard-earned victory on the road.
The Free Pick: New York 3, Florida 1
The second game of interest puts the Red Wings sterling record against the puck line to the test when they travel to Chicago to face-off against the Chicago Blackhawks in a huge divisional showdown. Chicago dropped a rare game at home this past Wednesday night in a 2-0 shutout to Los Angeles as -174 home favorites. It was just their third loss at home this season in 19 games and second in its last 10 games overall. The Blackhawks lead the NHL with 50 points and have an overall record of 23-10-4.
Friday night’s clash will be the first between these two rivals this season, after Chicago won four of six games last season, including all three games at home. The Red Wings are just 3-3 in their last six games and will have a hard time getting by a Blackhawks team that has only lost consecutive games twice this season. Stick with Chicago to draw first blood in this season’s series with a close win at home.
The Free NHL Pick: Chicago 3, Detroit 2
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