The National Hockey gets back on the ice this week after its usual Olympic break. In past years there has been a slight increase in scoring the first week back from the extended break, giving the impression that defenses lose a bit of an edge when not together for a lengthy period of time.
That doesn’t mean you should rush out to bet all of the games going over the total, as there look to be better opportunities for a few solid under plays this week.
The first game to look at going under the total is Thursday’s Metropolitan Division matchup between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the New Jersey Devils. Ever since Cory Schneider was given the Devils’ starting goaltender position, New Jersey has been a solid under team and now stand at 16-29-14 in unders this season.
The Devils are entering a critical four-game stretch that will likely determine how they handle the trade deadline. If the Devils can get five or six points in those games, they could very well be buyers. If they fall farther back, they may be sellers. Expect New Jersey to bring playoff-type intensity to the game.
Moving to Friday, the Minnesota Wild visit the Vancouver Canucks and both teams have shown strong under tendencies this season. The Wild are scoring just 2.5 goals per game this season, while Vancouver has been slightly worse, scoring just 2.4 goals. Both teams are solid defensively, however, and the two squads are a combined 37-59-23 in unders this season.
The final game is an interesting game between the Montreal Canadians and the Los Angeles Kings. Montreal’s Carey Price was the goaltender for the gold-medal winning Canadian team at the Olympics, while Jonathan Quick was the starting netminder for Team USA and no doubt would like to get a measure of revenge against Price for Team Canada’s 1-0 victory in the semifinals. Quick’s teammates know that this is an important game for him personally, so expect them to give their best effort.
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