NHL Handicapping: Weekend Hockey Betting Primer With Free Picks
by Dave Schwab - 3/30/2012
The overall field of 16 teams for this season’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is just about set. However, with just one week left in the regular season the actual first-round matchups in each conference have yet to be decided.
The following are our NHL ‘best bets’ for this Friday night’s slate of games with an eye towards matchups that carry major playoff implications for the teams involved.
Nashville Predators (+115) vs. Detroit Red Wings (-135)
Total Line: 5.5
There is a possibility that these two teams will meet in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs with Nashville sitting in fifth place, just one point behind Detroit. The Predators come in with a 2-3 record in their last five games overall and a 2-4 record in their last six road games.
Detroit has really struggled in the month of March with an overall record of 4-9 in 13 games, including a 3-2 loss to Nashville as a +134 road underdog a few weeks back. Despite their recent troubles, the Red Wings remain extremely tough to beat at home with just five losses in 37 games.
These two have already met five times this season with Detroit holding a 3-2 edge overall, including two previous wins at home. Three of the last four meetings were one-goal games and you can expect the same thing this time around between two closely-matched teams. Home ice prevails as the Red Wings pull out the win.
The Pick: Detroit 3, Nashville 2
Pittsburgh Penguins (-125) vs. Buffalo Sabres (+105)
Total Line: 5.5
Pittsburgh’s quest to catch the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference took a major hit in its last two games with back-to-back 5-3 losses to the NY Islanders as a prohibitive favorite both at home and on the road. It is now just 3-3 in its last six games.
Buffalo is currently tied with Washington for the final playoff spot in the East and playing rock-solid with a 7-1-2 record in its last 10 games, including a five-game winning streak heading into this contest. The Sabres are 7-1 in their last eight home games to improve to 20-11-8 on the year.
The Penguins have won seven of the last nine meetings but are 1-2 in three games this season, including a 6-2 loss as -129 favorites in their last trip to Buffalo. Despite the recent form of both teams, stick with Pittsburgh to bounce back from two very poor outings with a strong showing against the Sabres.
The Pick: Pittsburgh 4, Buffalo 2
Dallas Stars (+140) vs. Vancouver Canucks (-160)
Total Line: 5
The Stars are currently tied with Phoenix for the lead the Pacific Division, but both Los Angeles and San Jose are just one point back. Without a strong finish, Dallas could easily find itself out of the playoffs altogether in a very tight race. It comes into this contest 3-2 in its last five games overall and sporting a very productive 7-2 record in its last nine road games.
Vancouver has already clinched the Northwest Division but could still claim the top spot in the Western Conference; sitting just three points behind St. Louis with a total of 103 points. The Canucks have won their last four games and are 6-3-1 in their last 10. They are 23-10-4 at home this season but just 4-4 in their last eight home games, including a 5-2 loss to Dallas as -199 home favorites on March 22.
Dallas actually holds a 3-2 edge in this season’s series but is just 3-7 in the last 10 meetings and 1-5 in its last six trips to Vancouver. Despite the overall trends, stick with the Stars as desperation carries them to much-needed win.
The Pick: Dallas 2, Vancouver 1
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