Event Feature: NHL Betting Weekend
It’s time to foil up.
Yes, so the 1977 Paul Newman film Slap Shot remains the enduring image of hockey to many American sports fans. As far as they’re concerned, it’s either all about the fighting, or it’s a joke because of the fighting.But let’s forget about the goon squad. Hockey is about scoring more goals than the other guys, and that’s what draws handicappers to the game. And what a game it is from a betting perspective – soft lines, simple research and a sight to behold on television, especially on HDTV.
We’ll take you around the league for this weekend’s Top 3 betting games, after we hit you with these 10 important facts to get you caught up with the NHL.
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1. There’s no strong over/under trend to work with this year, as the over holds an unprofitable 485-479 edge at press time.
2. Home underdogs are winning 42.4 percent of their games this year at 103-105-35.
3. Boston (43-16-9, 95 points) no longer has the best record in the league after losing four of five games in March. San Jose (43-12-10, 96 points) now holds the top spot.
4. Marian Gaborik (hip) will travel with the Wild as they hit the road Thursday. His status remains uncertain; Gaborik had 42 goals for Minnesota in 77 games last year.
5. Brian Elliott has won his last four games in a row for Ottawa and is 10-4-3 since taking over the No. 1 goalie spot from Alex Auld.
6. The Wings have won six of their last seven against Calgary to earn 5.1 units; the two teams play on Thursday and again on Mar. 23.
7. Nikolai Khabibulin came off injured reserve for the Blackhawks on Wednesday. He’s had a comeback year in Chicago at 17-5-5 with a .924 save percentage.
8. Detroit and San Jose are the top two teams in the league (each with 96 points); they’re also the top two teams this year on the man advantage, the Wings at 27.0 percent and the Sharks at 24.4 percent.
10. Gary Roberts, a 21-year veteran and a Stanley Cup winner with the Flames in 1989, retired for the second time on Tuesday. Tampa Bay had put Roberts on waivers, but he failed to attract interest from other teams at the trade deadline. His first retirement was in 1996 due to chronic neck problems.
Friday: Los Angeles at Vancouver (10:00 p.m. ET)
Times are good for the Canucks (34-23-9, 77 points). They’ve won 12 of their last 16 games to move into fifth place in the Western Conference. The Kings (29-28-9, 67 points) are in 13th place, but only four points out of playoff position after winning their last three straight. The hero in L.A. right now is goalie Jonathan Quick, who has a 16-11-1 record with a .909 save percentage in his rookie campaign.
Saturday: N.Y. Rangers at Philadelphia (1:00 p.m. ET)
This is the first end of a home-and-home series that wraps up Sunday afternoon at MSG. The Rangers (34-25-8, 76 points) were one of the most aggressive teams at the trade deadline, adding RW Nik Antropov and D Derek Morris while also picking up LW Sean Avery from the waiver wire. New York has won two of three games since the deadline and sit at 3-2-1 under new coach John Tortorella. Philadelphia (36-19-10, 82 points) has won eight of 12, including a 5-2 victory in New York (-125) on Feb. 15.
Sunday: Boston at Pittsburgh (3:00 p.m. ET)
With these two teams going in different directions, Sunday’s matchup at the Igloo has some extra mustard on it. These teams have met three times this year; Pittsburgh (36-26-6, 78 points) scored a 2-1 win on the road back in October (with Dany Sabourin in net), but lost both ends of a home-and-home to kick off 2009. Pittsburgh’s move up the standings is partly motivated by the Therrien firing, but also because of the return of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (.911 save percentage) to health. The Pens are 28-16-4 with Fleury and 8-10-2 otherwise.