NHL Handicapping Guide- November 17
NHL Handicapping Guide- November 17
The 2011/2012 NHL regular season is a little over six weeks old and while a good majority of the 30 teams in the league find themselves in the middle of the pack in their respective conference standings, a few are already starting to separate themselves as not only a team to beat on the ice, but a great team to wager on against the puck line, on the money line, and on the total line.
The team that has vaulted to the top of this list is the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not only do they have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 11-4-3 and the most points with 25, the Penguins have been a gold mine on the money line with the highest return of all 30 teams at +1246. Pittsburgh has also been a solid play against the puck line at 12-6.
The biggest surprise so far has been the Minnesota Wild. Last season, they finished out of the playoffs and in 12th-place in the Western Conference. This season, the Wild have bolted-out to a 10-5-3 start and lead the Northwest Division with 23 points. Minnesota has also provided a healthy return on investment for anyone who has hitched themselves to its bandwagon at +757 on the money line and a 13-5 record against the puck line. The Wild have even been a solid play on the total line with 10 of their first 16 games staying ‘under’ the total.
A few other teams that have turned in a profitable performance on the money line are Nashville at +744, Florida at +716 and Detroit at +708. The Predators have also done well against the puck line at 11-6 and the Panthers are profitable as well at 12-5.
Turning to this Friday night’s games, the first matchup that jumps off the page is Chicago at Calgary. The Blackhawks have won their last four games and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. They lead the Western Conference with 27 points and have an overall record of 12-4-3. Calgary comes into this game at 7-9-1 overall and in last-place in the Northwest Division in the West with 15 points. The Flames are 5-5 in their last 10 games.
Chicago beat Calgary 4-1 earlier this month as a 153 home favorite and have beaten the Flames in eight of the last 10 games. The total has been evenly split at 5-5 over the 10 games. The Blackhawks should open as a mild road favorite on the money line and remain the solid play this time around as well.
The Free NHL Pick: Chicago 4 Calgary 2
The second game of interest is an Eastern Conference matchup between Buffalo and Carolina. The visiting Sabres have overcome a slow start and are now tied with Toronto atop the Northeast Division with an overall record of 11-7 and 22 points. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games, but lost to New Jersey 5-3 on Wednesday night. Carolina has struggled to 6-10-3 start and is mired at the bottom of the Southeast Division with a total of 15 points. The Hurricanes have lost their last two games and are just 3-7 in their last 10.
These two met four times last season with each team winning once on the road and once at home. This season, Carolina outscored Buffalo 4-3 as a 156 road underdog. Stick with the Sabres to return the favor as the back-and-fourth nature of this series points to a Buffalo win.
The Free NHL Pick: Buffalo 3 Carolina 1
Looking ahead to the rest of the weekend, a couple of marquee matchups on the slate include the Red-hot New York Rangers, who have won seven straight, visiting the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. In another Saturday night battle in the Eastern Conference, Toronto plays hosts to Washington in a matchup of two division leaders.
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