NHL Handicapping: Weekend Hockey Betting Primer With Free Picks
by Dave Schwab - 1/5/2012
The NHL enters the fourth month of an 82-game regular season marathon to the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. With more than enough statistical information to assess all 30 teams, we have a clear picture of how each has performed on the ice as well as what kind of return they have provided against the puck line and on the money line.
The majority of the teams find themselves muddled in the middle-of-the-pack on both counts, but a few teams have separated themselves either at the top or bottom of this list. The following is a brief recap of the ‘hot and not’ teams in the NHL, along with a couple of free NHL picks for Friday’s games.
Who is Hot
As a fixture on top of this list, the Detroit Red Wings are now just two points away from being the top team in the NHL. Detroit has won four of its last five games and is 25-13-1 overall. It is one point behind Chicago for the top spot in the Western Conference with 51 points. The Red Wings top this list because they continue to provide the best return in the NHL on the money line at +2258 and are a profitable 24-15 against the puck line.
The New York Rangers came away with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Philadelphia this past Monday in the NHL’s Winter Classic as +123 road underdogs to extend their lead over the Flyers in the Atlantic Division to four points. They have won seven of their last eight games to move to 24-9-4 overall and they have the most points in the Eastern Conference with 52. The Rangers have also been a great team to wager on with the second-highest return on the money line at +1807 and a 23-14 record against the puck line.
The team with the third-best return on the money line at + 1735 just so happens to be the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Boston Bruins are 25-10-1 overall with 49 points after winning eight of their last 10 games and currently have a six-point lead over Ottawa in the Northeast Division. Boston has the best goals-per-game average in the NHL at 3.50 and the best goals-against-average at 1.89.
Who is Not
The team languishing at the top of this list for the past month or so is the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have not been that bad on the ice as of late with a 5-4-1 record in their last 10 games, but they still have the worst return on the money line at -1881 and have been extremely costly against the puck line at 15-23. Tampa Bay is 17-18-3 overall with 37 points.
The Western Conference’s contribution to this list is the Anaheim Ducks. They have won just twice in their last 10 games and are just 10-22-6 overall. The Ducks are actually a great team to bet against with a -1670 return on the money line and a woeful 17-21 record against the puck line.
Friday’s Top NHL Picks
The first game of interest on Friday night’s NHL schedule is a classic Atlantic Division showdown between the Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. New York first has to get by Florida on Thursday night at home before heading on the road for this game, while Pittsburgh has been on an extended vacation since losing to New Jersey, 3-1, on New Year’s Eve as a -128 road favorite. The Pens currently trail the Rangers by six points in the division with an overall record of 21-13-4, but they are a very average 5-5 in their last 10 outings.
New York has beaten Pittsburgh the last three times they met, including a 4-3 victory on Nov.29 as a +104 home underdog. This raised the Rangers record to 4-1 in the last five meetings with the total going ‘over’ in the last four. Despite the recent trends in this series, stick with the well-rested Penguins to take full advantage of their fresh legs.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 4, New York 3
Friday’s second betting opportunity is a Western Conference clash between the Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Avalanche are 8-1 in their last nine games and 22-18-1 overall. Chicago has won seven of its last 10 games. It has the most points in the conference with 52 and is 24-11-4 overall.
Colorado topped Los Angeles, 2-1, in an overtime shootout as a +154 road underdog this past Monday. The Blackhawks dropped a 4-3 decision to Edmonton on Monday as -225 home favorites and now have to travel to Philadelphia this Thursday night to face the Flyers before heading back home for Friday’s game. In late October these two met in a home-and-home series with each team winning on the road. Chicago won 3-1 as a -132 favorite, while Colorado won 5-4 in a shootout as a +159 underdog. The overall series is tied 5-5 over the last 10 games dating back to the fall of 2009.
This is another golden opportunity to take advantage of a well-rested team against one that will be coming off a tough matchup on the road.
Prediction: Colorado 3, Chicago 2
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