The 2011/2012 NHL regular season wraps-up a week from this Saturday and while we have a pretty good idea of which 16 teams will be in the playoffs, things will probably go down to the bitter end until we actually know what the matchups will be for the first round of postseason action in each conference.
To help provide some better insight for your handicapping efforts, this guide identifies the top teams in the league, not necessarily for their play on the ice, but for their positive return on investment for anyone who enjoys wagering on the games.
The following is a brief look at the top three money makers in the league as well as a couple of free NHL picks for this Friday’s games.
The Top Three Money Makers
The Pittsburgh Penguins have lost two of their last three games to fall five points behind the New York Rangers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, but remain at the top of our list with a NHL-best +2099 return on the money line. They have been far less profitable against the puck line at 39-37. The Penguins are currently holding the fourth spot in the East with 100 points and have an overall record of 47-23-6.
It has been a rocky road over the past month for the Detroit Red Wings with just four wins against nine losses, but they remain profitable on money line at +1295. However, the slide has taken a toll on their record against the puck line as they are now just 38-39 on the year. The Red Wings are clinging to fourth place in the Western Conference with a one-point lead over Nashville and a four-point lead over Chicago. Overall, they have 97 points.
The Pacific Division remains completely up for grabs with four teams separated by just two points for the outright lead. The Phoenix Coyotes are right in the thick of things with 87 points, but they are clearly the best team in the division on the money line at +1257. They also boast a very profitable 45-32 record against the puck line.
A few other teams with a healthy return on the money line include the Ottawa Senators at +1199, the Nashville Predators at +1034, and the Carolina Hurricanes at +930. The Hurricanes are 12th in the East and pretty much out of the playoffs, but they have the best record in the league against the puck line at 50-27.
Friday’s Free Picks
Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings
Right now, these two teams are set to meet each other in the first round of the playoffs as the fourth and fifth seeds in the West, so this game could have a major impact on which team earns the home-ice advantage. Nashville comes in with a 5-4-1 record in its last 10 games and is 20-16-3 on the road this season. The Red Wings are 3-5-2 in their last 10, but still one of the best teams in the league at home with a record of 30-5-2.
These two have already met five times this season with Detroit holding a 3-2 edge including victories in both home games. Three of the last four meetings have been one-goal games and you have to believe that this one will follow suit with so much on the line. Stick with the Red Wings at home on the money line, but the play against the puck line is on the Predators. The Free NHL Pick: Detroit 3 Nashville 2
Dallas Stars vs. Vancouver Canucks
Dallas remains in a very precarious position for the playoffs as it could be the third seed if it hangs on to win the Pacific Division or miss the playoff altogether with a poor finish. The Stars are 6-4 in their last 10 games and 2-2 on the road during that span. Vancouver has already clinched the Northwest Division and remains just two points behind St. Louis for the top spot in the West with 103 total points. The Canucks are riding a four game winning streak and are 4-2 in their last six home games.
The Stars have a 2-1 edge in the season-series including a 5-2 victory on March 6 as 182 road underdogs, but are just 2-7 in the last nine meetings and a 1-5 record in their last six trips to Vancouver. Despite the fact that the long-term trends in this series favor the Canucks, stick with Dallas to pound-out a win as desperation prevails. The Free NHL Pick: Dallas 2 Vancouver 1
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.