The 2012 NHL betting campaign is nearing its end, and on Thursday night, two teams that might be meeting in the first round of the playoffs meet at Scottrade Arena, when the Phoenix Coyotes visit the St. Louis Blues.
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Coming into play on Wednesday, the Coyotes are sitting relatively pretty. They are tied with the Los Angeles Kings for the top spot in the Pacific Division, and they need just one more point to get into the playoffs. Of course, there is a big difference between finishing third in this division and being the No. 8 seed in all likelihood and winning the division and getting the No. 3 seed and home ice advantage, and the ‘Yotes know that they are going to need to beat out not only the Kings, but the San Jose Sharks as well if they want to win the Pacific. Mike Smith has caught some tremendous fire here at the end of the season, and he is clearly the MVP of this team right now. Smith has pitched three straight shutouts, lowering his GAA down to just 2.25. He is having a career year with a 36-18-10 mark, and you can’t play much better than he has in this run of 180 straight minutes without conceding a goal. In this stretch, Smith has stopped a whopping 136 shots.
The Blues have just two games left in the year, and they know that they are going to need at least three points in these games if they want to have a shot at claiming either the top seed in the West or the Presidents’ Trophy. St. Louis is two back of both the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Rangers, but at least it has the Central Division and no worse than the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference locked up. This is a team that is really struggling offensively this year, ranking No. 22 in the game at just 2.5 goals per game. This offense has scored just seven goals in its last three games, and all three have resulted in losses. That just isn’t going to cut it, especially knowing that two of those three losses came here at Scottrade Arena, a place that the Blues had dominated the rest of the year. Remember that before these two losses, this was a team that was 30-4-4 on the campaign.
Phoenix Coyotes @ St. Louis Blues Pick: Is there any reason to think that St. Louis is going to be able to generate any offense whatsoever against Smith and the Coyotes on Thursday? In the end, the ‘Yotes are just playing the better hockey at the moment, and they have a heck of a lot more to be playing for. They’ll get the two points and their playoff bid sealed on Thursday night.
Free Hockey Pick: Phoenix Coyotes
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.