Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tow the Line

Well I’m not much of a gambling man, unless it’s poker, I can’t help but look at NHL lines and laugh. If ever a gambling man wanted to have an advantage over the house in sports betting, NHL is it. The people who make hockey lines clearly don’t know hockey as well as they do the other “mainstream” sports and it gives people an opportunity to capitalize. They seem to rarely take key injuries, fatigue, backup goalies giving starters a rest, or any of the factors that decide hockey games into account. With that in mind, I’ve decided I’d put my holiest of marbles on the line, or on the ice if you will, and start a series where I discuss questionable lines of the night. It's just for fun and I'll be honest about my failures. It’s also important to note that I’m rarely interested in getting 1 to 2 on my money or anyone’s money for that matter, so I’ll only analyze what I see as mistakes. Let’s kick it off:

Kings +175 at Flyers -210 - Over 6.5 EVEN

Now you’d have to be nuts to take the Kings in this matchup, but the interesting part of the line is that over 6.5 goals is even and under is -120. So let’s see, a high scoring team with the propensity for allowing goals faces a team struggling to find a goaltender and a 5-2 final score is even? I’ll take the over. I take the Flyers and over 6.5.

Result: Flyers win but in overtime by a score of 3 of 2. LA put up quite a fight.

Penguins +170 at Devils -200

Now the first thing to realize is that the people who set hockey lines basically assume the home team will always win. Of course, tell that to San Jose who’s only lost 4 games in regulation on the road but is only .500 at home and winless against the big teams of their division. Now, the Penguins went into the break struggling a bit as Conklin started to look human again. The Devils, on the other hand, were hot and found some offense stashed away in the depths of their defensive brains. I wouldn’t take Pittsburgh, but I wouldn’t take the Devils. -200 against the Penguins is a sucker bet, unless that team is Detroit or Anaheim. I’ll take the Penguins, just to see what happens.

Result: Penguins surprise the Devils and score 3 in the third to win 4-2.

Blues +105 at Leafs -125

Another classic example of the line being skewed based on home ice. Let’s face it, the Leafs are terrible and while St Louis has had its problems they’re still a much better team than the Leafs. I’ll take the Blues just because I would never take the Leafs for anything less then even even against the Kings.

Result: St Louis jumps out to a quick 2-0 lead and then allows Toronto to temporarily climb back into it before winning 3-2.

Capitals +150 at Canadians -170

The Canadians have been great lately and I do love to see Canadian teams make the playoffs so go Habs. However, the Caps have been very good as well and are one point away from leading their division after Carolina's monumental mid-season collapse. The coaching change did wonders for Washington, election time encourages me to compare this to the country but I refrain, and even without Nylander, they're still in position to make their first playoff berth since before Jagr stole their money. This is a tough one to call, but -170 against the Caps is a sucker bet. I’ll take the Capitals just out of spite.

Result: Caps actually played a good game but their backup goaltender couldn't out duel a streaking Huet. Huet with a 35 shot shutout and Habs win 4-0.

Coyotes +125 at Blue Jackets -145

This is another game where those numbers would be flopped if Phoenix were at home. Bryzgalov versus Leclaire and with Carcillo back tonight the Yotes should have a little extra jump. That and Shane Doan playing like a man possessed, or a guy who’s sick of missing the playoffs, and the single biggest waiver pickup in a decade have the Coyotes defying expectations and beating down the door of the playoffs. I’ll take the Coyotes, just because -145 in this situation makes no sense to me.

Result: After allowing a goal on the very first shot and trailing going into the third, Phoenix has a 3 goal third period to win 4-2.

Dallas at Vancouver - under 5 +110

Dallas: anemic offense great goaltending. Vancouver: one good offensive line and great goaltending. Under 5: +110? I’ll the take under and hope Naslund doesn't wake up.

Result: I screwed this one up by failing to remember that Luongo was not returning to his team until later this week. The backup goaltenders, yes plural, could not beat Dallas but the offense of the Canucks made an important effort and closed the gap to a final of 4-3 Dallas after being down 4-1.

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