NHL Hockey Odds and Picks: Scouting the Week Ahead
by Alan Matthews - 1/5/2015
It's not exactly breaking news to recommend that you bet against the Edmonton Oilers this NHL season as they are the worst team in the league and the only club yet to reach double-digit wins. However, really start wagering against the team now because it appears the Oilers already are waving the white flag on the year after two trades last week.
In the first move, Edmonton sent center Mark Arcobello to Nashville for underachieving center Derek Roy. A puzzling move because Arcobello was much cheaper than Roy and had more points (12) than Roy did (10) at the time of the deal. Also not sure why Edmonton didn't just claim Roy as he was placed on waivers by the Predators before the deal. The other 29 teams passed on him. Roy signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Predators during the summer. The Oilers will be Roy's fifth team since the start of the 2012-13 season. He was pretty good for a couple of years in the late 2000s with Buffalo, with a career-high of 81 points in 2007-08. The trade allows Roy to avoid being sent to the minors since he hadn't been claimed.
The bigger trade and one that's clearly with an eye to the future is that Edmonton sent talented right winger David Perron to Pittsburgh for the Penguins' first-round draft choice in 2015 and winger Rob Klinkhammer. Perron, 26, had five goals and 19 points in 38 games with Edmonton, one season after he set career highs with 28 goals, 57 points and eight power-play goals. He's a steal for the Penguins, who badly needed forward depth with Pascual Dupuis out indefinitely with a blood clot in his lung. The Pens are 15/4 favorites to win the Eastern Conference at Bovada. Klinkhammer, 28, had four goals and six points in 29 games for the Penguins and Arizona Coyotes, where he began the season. This trade is more about the draft pick for Edmonton.
If you are wondering, the NHL trade deadline isn't until March 2. In another move more toward the future, the Oilers demoted center Leon Draisaitl to the minors. The third pick in last year's draft had two goals, seven assists and a minus-17 rating in 37 games as a rookie. By sending him to juniors before he played his 40th game, the Oilers keep him from accruing a year toward free agency.
San Jose placed forward Joe Thornton on injured reserve after he missed Saturday's blowout loss to St. Louis with an upper-body injury. Thornton had played 319 consecutive games before sitting out. His last missed game was Nov. 11, 2010, when he was serving a suspension for an illegal hit. Thornton last missed a game because of injury on April 2, 2010. Thornton leads the Sharks with 33 points this season. He also missed Monday's game in Winnipeg and will sit Tuesday in Minnesota at a minimum.
Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo appears to have avoided injury when he was run over by Washington's Alex Ovechkin in Sunday's game. That happened in the first period, and Luongo stayed in net until after the second intermission. Florida is off until Thursday when it visits Vancouver. You know Luongo badly wants to play in that one against his former team as it's the Panthers' only visit to Vancouver this season.
Chicago forward Kris Versteeg is expected to miss around a month with an upper-body injury. He was hurt when his left hand was struck by a puck shot by Capitals forward Eric Fehr in the third period of the Winter Classic on Thursday. Versteeg has nine goals, 18 assists and is a plus-14 in 34 games this season. He is third on the team in points.
This Week's Games to Watch
Tampa Bay at Montreal, Tuesday: It's only a two-game week for the Habs, but it's two tough ones (see Saturday). The Canadiens will be looking for some payback here as they suffered their worst loss of the season on Oct. 13 in Tampa, 7-1. Steven Stamkos had a hat trick for the Bolts, and defenseman Victor Hedman had a career-high four points. Tampa Bay outshot Montreal 41-17, including 18-1 in the third when the Lighting scored three goals. It was the first game between the teams since Montreal completed a first-round playoff sweep in April. The Canadiens are money when scoring first this year, going 16-0. They are -130 opening BookMaker favorites.
Boston at Pittsburgh, Wednesday: Boston didn't play very good hockey in the 2014 portion of this season's schedule, so perhaps the New Year will offer better things. I still expect these two clubs to meet in the conference finals. The Penguins and Bruins have played once thus far, a 3-2 Pittsburgh overtime win at home on Nov. 24. Evgeni Malkin had two goals, including the winner. Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists. It was goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's 300th career win. Bruins star defenseman Zdeno Chara was out injured for that game.
NY Rangers at Los Angeles, Thursday: This is the clear marquee matchup of the week as the Rangers and Kings face off for the first time since Los Angeles beat New York in five games in the Stanley Cup Finals in June. It was a fairly close series despite ending early as four of the five games were decided by one goal and three in overtime -- all Kings wins. L.A. was 3-0 at home in the series, finishing the series off 3-2 in double overtime on June 13 on Alec Martinez's goal at 14:43 of the second OT. Martinez also scored in overtime in Game 7 against Chicago in the Western Conference Finals. Henrik Lundqvist made 48 saves in the loss for the Rangers, the second most in his postseason career. It tied him for fifth-most in a Cup finals loss in 25 years.
Detroit at Washington, Saturday: There aren't many NHL regular-season games that a team can build momentum off of, but the Winter Classic is definitely one. Thus, can the Capitals start a run toward the top of the Metropolitan Division off their 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on New Year's Day at Nationals Park? Former Blackhawk Troy Brouwer won it on a power-play goal with just 12.9 seconds left. If you watched that game it was hard to see the puck because of the sun's glare off the ice. Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner played wearing sunglasses. Washington has just one regulation loss in its past 14 games. Ovechkin was named the NHL's Second Star of last week. He on a three-game multi-point streak. The Caps lost 4-2 at home to Detroit on Oct. 29 in their only meeting thus far.
Pittsburgh at Montreal, Saturday: It's a major event in Montreal any time Crosby is in town, and this will be televised nationally in the States on the NHL Network. Crosby is equally fired up whenever he gets to play in the Bell Centre. It's the second meeting thus far between the Eastern Conference contenders. The Penguins won in Montreal 4-0 on Nov. 18 as Fleury made 27 saves. He came into that game with a personal-worst .892 save-percentage against Montreal in his career. Crosby did have a goal in that game. On Saturday in Pittsburgh, the Canadiens won 4-1. Perron did have his first goal for Pittsburgh.
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