The NHL season has begun to hit its stride with almost two full weeks now in the books. To this point, things have played largely to form. Montreal has been a money-machine for its backers following a sharp 5-0-1 start, while teams such as the Flames, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes have so far confirmed they're lowly expectations.
Every other week in this space Doc's Sports will keep you abreast of the doings in the NHL with a rundown of the teams that have been the hottest and coldest bets in the sport. Let's get started.
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Hottest Bets in NHL (through 10/25)
Montreal Canadiens (5-1, +4.0 Units, Streak: 4W)
The Canadiens have been favored in six of seven games and won them all. The Habs lone loss came at +100 on the road to Ottawa back in the second game of the season. Since then, Montreal has reeled off wins against Pittsburgh, Arizona, Boston and Philadelphia on Monday night to become the most profitable bet in hockey.
The Canadiens have been simply dominant through the first two weeks of the season. They lead the NHL in both scoring (3.8 GPG) and scoring defense (1.5 GAA), and their +13 scoring differential is nearly double that of Montreal's next closest pursuer (Edmonton, +7).
Defenseman Shea Weber has been a beast on the blue line for the Canadiens. He has tallied a team-high seven points (2 goals, five assists), and his plus/minus of +10 leads all the NHL. But what makes the start all the more impressive for Montreal is it has come mostly without the services of Carey Price, considered by many the best goalkeeper in the world. He's recently returned from illness and gone 3-0 with a 1.67 GAA.
Next up for the Canadiens is a road game at the Islanders on Wednesday, followed by home games against the Lightning on Thursday and Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Edmonton Oilers (5-1, +3.5 Units, Streak: 3W)
The young and talented Oilers were expected to take a big step forward this season, and so far they've delivered. In the past seven days, Edmonton has beaten Carolina, St. Louis as a +110 home favorite, and on Monday smashed the Jets 3-0 at Bell Centre.
Center Connor McDavid spearheads an offense that, like Montreal, is averaging an NHL-high 3.8 GPG. The teenage captain has tallied four goals and five assists to tie for the league-lead with nine points. Furthermore, outside of one poor effort in a 6-2 loss to Buffalo opening week, goalie Cam Talbot has been solid between the pipes. Now in his second year as the starter, Talbot looks poised to take a big step forward for the Oilers.
Edmonton will be home to face the Capitals tonight followed by a trip to Vancouver on Friday and then back home to face Ottawa on Sunday.
Detroit Red Wings (4-2, +3.0 Units, Streak: 4W)
Many are expecting the aging Red Wings to regress this season and finally end their incredible streak of 25 straight playoff appearances. Perhaps that comes to fruition, but this veteran and prideful group isn't going down without a fight. Literally. The Red Wings have already accrued five major penalties for fighting this year, which is tops in the NHL. In the entirety of last season, Detroit had just eight major penalties for fighting.
That's certainly a big philosophical change in the Motor City. To this point it's working. In the Red Wings current four-game winning streak, three have come as an underdog. These guys should continue to be a solid underdog option when the opportunity arises.
Next up for Detroit is home versus the Hurricanes tonight, at St. Louis on Thursday, then back home for games against Boston and Florida over the weekend.
Coldest Bets in the NHL (through 10/25)
Calgary Flames (2-5, -3.2 Units, Streak: 1W)
It's been a very disappointing start for Calgary. Expected to challenge for a playoff spot, the Flames instead have started with a league-worst -9 scoring differential. No.1 goalkeeper Brian Elliot hasn't done the job, allowing an unacceptable 3.91 goals a game with a sub-par .867 SV%; and the power play has been one of the worst in the NHL.
That's the bad with Calgary, but there are signs of optimism following the Flames big 3-2 road win against the formidable Blackhawks as a +160 underdog Monday night. Elliott punctuated a game-changing 31-save night with a nice kick save in the waning seconds that sent the game to overtime. Perhaps that's just the jumpstart Calgary needed.
The Flames play St. Louis tonight on the road then host Ottawa on Friday and Washington on Sunday.
Toronto Maple Leafs (1-4, -3.0 Units, Streak: 3L)
The Maple Leafs poor start has been the result of failing to protect leads. In each loss of the current three-game streak, Toronto has coughed up a lead in the third period, which includes a two-goal advantage against the Blackhawks on Monday night. The result has been a league-high three overtime losses for Maple Leafs.
Toronto is a talented team that's extremely young. This means bettors could be in for plenty of the white-knuckle rides we've already seen with this group.
The Maple Leafs will be home this week for games against the Lightning on Tuesday and Panthers on Thursday, followed by road games at Montreal on Saturday and the Islanders on Sunday.
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