NHL Puck-Line Power Poll as of 12/22/13

Bet at 5dimesAnyone can easily look up who the best teams are in terms of wins and losses in the NHL, but the really successful NHL betting fans are the ones who analyze every aspect of the game. Today, we’re going to look at the puck-lines for the hottest and the coldest teams in the NHL through games completed on 12/22/13.

Who’s Hot

1: Pittsburgh Penguins (20-18, +$1,575) – The Pens have been through a lot of late. C Evgeni Malkin has missed games with a leg injury. LW James Neal served a five-game suspension. D Deryk Engelland, D Robert Scuderi, D Paul Martin, D Brooks Orpik, and D Kris Letang have all ended up being hurt for at least parts of the month of December. LW Tanner Glass has a hand problem. And yet, with all of that going on, the Pens have still managed to thrust forward in the Metropolitan Division, winning seven straight games as we head near the Christmas break. In that stretch, Pittsburgh has done just 4-4 on the puck-line, but thanks to the fact that there are nothing but big plus odds wins and only four plus odds losses, bettors are having a field day. The Penguins are clearly one of the top teams in the league to back right now, and we can only imagine how scary they are going to be when they get healthy.

2: Tampa Bay Lightning (22-14, +$1,151) – How the Bolts have managed to keep their eyes on the prize, we have no idea. But they have won four games in row and have covered the puck-line in three of those four to move up to the second best team in the league in terms of the hockey equivalent of the spread. Much like Pittsburgh, the Lightning are only going to manage to get better. LW Ryan Malone might be set to come back right after the Christmas break, and anything that could be gotten out of C Steven Stamkos at the end of the season seems like gravy after the gravity of the injury he suffered with his broken leg back on Veterans’ Day. A three-month recovery from such an injury for a hockey player would be a massive accomplishment, as the general fear was that he was lost for the season when the injury occurred.

3: Colorado Avalanche (21-14, +$1,113) – Colorado continues to spin its wheels, but the fact of the matter is that other teams are catching up to it now on the NHL puck-lines for the first time this season. We really haven’t seen the Avalanche move the dial all that much, as they are living off of the success of their start of the season here to stay in our Top 5. The Avs had failed to cover four puck-lines in a row from the last time we had addressed this issue back in the beginning of December, but since that point, they have four straight covers, including taking both games from the Stars in a home-and-home series on December 16th and 17th.

4: Winnipeg Jets (23-14, +$941) – Winnipeg had the most covers on the season two weeks ago when we looked at our NHL puck-line power poll, and it once again still has the most covers with 23 on the campaign. The Jets have three covers in a row in the middle of December, and that’s what has saved its position on this list. We are still very concerned about this team, as we know that G Ondrej Pavelec is the best goaltending option on the team, yet he just doesn’t really have the goods to be a starting goalie in this league as we see it. Winnipeg has allowed at least four goals in three of its last five games. It really needs to hold teams down to that magic number of two, because then for the most part, it only takes one goal to cover the spread.

4: New Jersey Devils (23-14, +$919) – The Devils have been smoking of late on the puck-line, as they have seven wins in a row to storm into the Top 5 of our power poll. They have two massive wins as favorites, as they beat the Lightning 3-0 as -117 moneyline favorites and the Senators 5-2 as -123 favorites in consecutive games. They also have five covers as minus odds underdogs in the mix, but still, virtually all of the profits this season have come in the last two weeks, as the Devils have gone from merely average to a great team for bettors. There’s a reason why they are still in the thick of the fight for the last playoff spots in the Eastern Conference after such a horrid start to the season.

Who’s Not

30: Nashville Predators (15-21, -$2,384) – Somehow, it’s only getting worse for the Predators, who have successfully found ways to lose money for puck-line bettors every step of the way this year where we have looked at how teams are faring on the puck-line. We keep saying it, but in the end, what we have found is that not having G Pekka Rinne for two months has killed this team. G Marek Mazanec and G Carter Hutton have been atrocious, and for a team which is only averaging 2.3 goals per game offensively, that isn’t going to cut it. Nashville just has to be better in net, as it is killing itself with all of these games with four or more goals allowed.

29: Edmonton Oilers (16-22, -$2,179) – Edmonton bettors have to feel like they are getting coal in their stockings over and over again when they place a bet on the Oilers. Over the course of their last six games, they have been underdogs in each, and in all but one of those six games, they have been beaten by more than one goal. Those are the types of results which will murder a team’s season, and there is a reason why the Oilers have dropped over $900 in profits just in the last two weeks since we last put together our power poll. There’s just no offense right now, as the team has four goals scored in total in its last five games, and that just isn’t going to cut it when you have one of the worst goaltending situations in all of hockey.

28: Ottawa Senators (15-23, -$1,918) – Save for Detroit, there isn’t a team in the league with fewer puck-line wins this year than the Senators have with just 15. A lot of these losses have been piling up of late, as the team has been on a bit of a slide and hasn’t strung two SU wins together in over a seven weeks. The biggest issue? This defense is allowing 34.2 shots and 3.2 goals per game. It’s a lot tougher to cover a +1.5 puck-line when you’re allowing over three goals on a nightly basis, because you have to score at least three to cover a lot of those games. G Craig Anderson and G Robin Lehner aren’t playing nearly as well this year as they did last year, and that’s killing the Sens.

27: New York Islanders (16-21, -$1,303) – There are plenty of teams which could be in the bottom five at this point, as outside of these worst three teams, there isn’t much difference between 23rd (Detroit, -$1,092) and New York (27th, -$1,303). The Islanders’ problem is that they just aren’t getting the chance to make up anything on the puck-line because they are never favorites. Their win over the Rangers on Friday was their first regulation win in over a month, and it was the first time they won a game by multiple goals since November 12th. Since that point, New York has only been a favorite in two games. With more ATS losses than ATS wins in that stretch, that’s a recipe for a disaster on the puck-line, and the Isles have lived up to that prophecy.

26: Minnesota Wild (15-22, -$1,264) – Minnesota has taken a few steps backwards in the last two weeks, but it isn’t the end of the world. The Wild are still paying for their sins in November as to why they are in the bottom five in the league on the puck-line. Favored teams need to score goals to win games, and averaging 2.2 goals per game is second to last in the league. The Wild don’t have a single player with 30 points this year in spite of the fact that they have played 37 games thus far on the season, and in all likelihood, they aren’t going to have a man with 60 points this year when push comes to shove. Though G Josh Harding has been out of this world and has clearly been the Vezina Trophy winner in our eyes up to this point in the campaign, he can’t beat the puck-line by himself when the team is -1.5.

Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.