As the 2011/2012 NHL regular season begins its third month, the 82-game grind to the Stanley Cup Playoffs is now in full-swing. While most teams continue to jockey for position within their division, a few have already established themselves as not only a force to beat on the ice, but as a profitable play on the money line and against the puck line.
The team at the top of the heap in a combination of both these areas is the Detroit Red Wings. Even though their recent seven-game winning streak gave way to back-to-back road losses to Colorado and St. Louis earlier this week, the Red Wings have provided the best return on the money line in the league at +1733 and are 17-9 against the puck line. Detroit is currently three points behind Chicago in the Central Division with 33 points and an overall record of 16-9-1.
The hottest team on the ice has also been a money-making machine this season. The surprising Minnesota Wild are in the midst of a five-game winning streak has them at 18-7-3 on the year. Their 39 points in the standings is the tops in the NHL. The Wild have gone 19-9 against the puck line and are +1265 on the money line. During its recent winning streak, Minnesota has scored an average of 3.4 goals a game while giving-up a total of just six goals.
A couple of other teams that have provided an excellent return on the money line so far include Boston at +1049, Winnipeg at +1029, New York Rangers at + 903, and Vancouver at +738. The Jets have the best record in the league against the puck line at 20-7.
Looking ahead to Friday night’s matchups, the first game of interest is a Southeast Division clash that has the Jets hosting Carolina. The Hurricanes are coming off a 5-3 win over Edmonton this past Wednesday night as a 142 road underdog, but it was just their third win in the last 10 games. They are last in the division with 22 points and have an overall record of 9-17-4. Winnipeg extended its current winning streak to three games with a 2-1 victory over Boston this past Tuesday as 122 home underdogs. It is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games and six points behind Florida in the division with 28 points and an overall record of 12-11-4.
The Jets have already won the first two meetings this season between the two. On Oct.22 they beat Carolina 5-3 as 114 home favorites. They followed this up with a 3-1 victory on Nov. 25 as 117 road underdogs. Stick with the Jets to make it three in-a-row given that the Hurricanes have only won consecutive games two previous times this season. The Free NHL Pick: Winnipeg 4 Carolina 2
Friday’s other top play has Colorado on the road against Edmonton in a Northwest Division showdown. The Avalanche started this week’s three-game road trip by getting blanked 6-0 by Vancouver on Tuesday night as 183 road underdogs. Tonight they square-off against Calgary as a 120 road underdogs. Colorado is 13-14-1 overall but 0-6 in its last six road games. Edmonton comes into this one at 13-12-3 overall and is 8-5-1 at home this season.
The first two games this season in this series were played in Colorado. The Oilers pulled-out a 3-1 victory on Oct. 28 as 152 road underdogs, but the Avalanche evened the score with a 5-2 win as 125 home favorites on Nov. 26. Colorado has already struggled on the road this season and playing three road games in four nights will not help the cause. The Free NHL Pick: Edmonton 4 Colorado 3
A couple of other key matchups on the schedule this weekend include a showdown between two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference when the Rangers travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Later Saturday night, be sure to catch a Pacific Division clash between Dallas and Los Angeles in a battle of two teams that remain right on the tail of Phoenix for the lead in the division.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.