NHL Handicapping Guide- January 26
The NHL regular season 82-game marathon to the Stanley Cup Playoffs takes a break this weekend for Sunday’s All-Star game. Starting next Tuesday, the race for one of the top eight spots in each conference will fire back up for the start of the season’s stretch run.
This guide will take a look at a few teams have broken from the pack over the first half of the season and have provided a highly profitable return for anyone who enjoys wagering on the games.
The team at the top of this list is also one of the hottest ones on the ice. The New York Rangers have vaulted to the top of the Eastern Conference with 66 points and have an overall record of 31-12-4. They head into the break with seven victories in their last 10 games. The main reason the Rangers are at the top of this list is a NHL-best +2010 return on the money line and a profitable 28-19 record against the puck line. New York is second-best defensive team in the league with a goals-against-average of 1.98 and is ranked 11th in scoring with 2.77 goals per game.
The Detroit Red Wings are the top team in the Western Conference with 67 points and have an overall record of 33-16-1. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games, but head into the break on a sour note with an ugly 7-2 loss to Montreal on Wednesday night as 146-road favorites, snapping a seven-game winning streak. Detroit has been a profitable team to wager on for the last two months and currently have a +1858 return on the money line. It record against the puck line is 27-23. The Red Wings are another team with tremendous balance. It is averaging 3.10 goals-per-game while giving-up an average of 2.34 goals-per-game.
The third-best team on the money line at +1354 is the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. They lead the Northeast Division with 64 points and have an overall record of 31-14-2. The Bruins are probably looking forward to the All-Star break after dropping four of their last seven games. This skid also took its toll on their record against the puck line as they are now 22-25 on the year. Boston leads the NHL in scoring with a goals-per-game average of 3.53 and is also one of the top defensive teams in the league with a goals-against-average of 2.15.
A few other teams that have provided an excellent return on the money line are the reinvigorated Nashville Predators at +1343, the Ottawa Senators at +1139, and the Vancouver Canucks at +1014. The Predators head into the break with a 9-1 record in their last 10 games and the Senators have the best record in the league against the puck line at 33-19.
The only matchup on the slate from Thursday through Monday is Sunday’s All-Star Game. In a format that is unique to the NHL, the actual rosters are picked by each side’s team captain. Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara and Ottawa right winger Daniel Alfredsson will be the captains for this season’s game. The NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft will be held on Thursday, Jan.26 as each captain selects his roster from the available pool of players.
The one thing you can guarantee in this game is that the total goals scored will be in the double-digits. Last year the two teams tallied 21 goals and in 2009 the total hit 23. Over the past decade, the fewest total goals scored in an All-Star Game were 10 in 2004.
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