December 23rd 2013 Expert NHL Picks

December 23rd 2013 Expert NHL Picks

IMPORTANT NOTE: As you may know, Monday will be the last day before the NHL holiday break. Games will resume on Friday, December 27th. There will be no games on Tuesday or Wednesday

Colorado Avalanche @ San Jose Sharks: AVALANCHE 2.70

* Risk: 2 Units | Win: 3.40 Units (Members Only Pick)*

*Note: The odds continue to drop since writing this. The price will probably continue to drop since there should be quite a bit of money put on the Avalanche, which will draw the line closer to even as the money pours in.*

This is great value we are receiving with the Avalanche at a price of 2.70. The Colorado Avalanche are currently 9th in the NHL standings, with 48 points and a 23-10-2 record. The Sharks are sitting in 7th place overall, with only 2 more points than the Avs (50 points). We have two teams here that are 2 points apart in the standings, yet we are getting a great price that would compare to a team like the Sabres or Oilers playing against the Sharks. The Sharks have gone 22-8-6 this season. Both teams know how to score goals, as they are both amongst the top 10 of the NHL’s highest scoring teams. The Sharks are the 4th highest scoring team in the League, with 3.11 goals per game, while the Avalanche are 8th overall for scoring, with 2.86 goals per game. The Avalanche have a slight edge on defense, allowing 2.31 goals against per game (7th best overall), while the Sharks defense allows 2.36 goals against per game (10th overall). The story has been similar for both clubs over their last 10 games, as both teams have allowed 2.90 goals against per game over their L10 which is unusually high for both teams. The Sharks currently take the most shots per game of any team in the NHL, 36.2 shots per game but the Avalanche are 3rd for OSB% (Winning % -outshot) with a .765 OSB%. The Sharks have a .680 OS% (Winning %- Outshooting). What this essentially means is that the Avalanche win more times when being out-shot than the Sharks do when out-shooting their opponents. Colorado needs to stop taking so many penalties, they are currently 22nd with 11.8 PIM/G while the Sharks are 3rd taking only 8.5 PIM/G. The Sharks power play is nothing too serious at 17.6 % which is 16th overall, and over their last 10 games the Sharks have scored on only 13.9 % of their attempts. The Colorado penalty kill is only 18th overall at 81.5% so it is very important that they play disciplined hockey on Monday. The Avs took only 4 penalty minutes against LA and 2 minutes against Edmonton so they are on the right track. The Avalanche will be going with Semyon Varlamov in goal on Monday. Semyon has the 9th best save percentage in the NHL (.925%) and a 2.35 GAA (14th), and has the 9th most wins of any goalie in the NHL with 16 wins (8 losses, 2 OT losses). It’s not certain who the Sharks will go with yet, but Antti Niemi is probable. Antti is also a solid goaltender, with a 18-7-6 record (3rd most wins) and a .913 SV% (23rd) and a 2.31 GAA (13th) but has the 2nd most OT or SO losses of any goaltender. The Avalanche have what it takes to defeat the Sharks, we are receiving great odds on the Avalanche and we are going to take them for 2 units to win 3.4 units.

Anaheim Ducks @ Washington Capitals: OVER 5.5 Goals 1.87

Risk: 2 Units | Win: 1.74 Units

The Anaheim Ducks are the best team in the NHL right now, sitting in 1st place overall with 57 points, and have an impressive record of 26-7-5. The Ducks are the 3rd highest scoring team in the NHL with 3.21 goals per game, behind the Blues (3.49 G/G) and the Blackhawks (3.58 G/G). The surging Ducks have won 8 straight games in a row (5 of 8 were on the road), and over their last 10 games the Ducks have managed to score 3.50 goals per game. The Washington Capitals offense hasn’t been shy this season, as the currently sit 7th place for goals, with 2.97 goals per game overall. The Capitals scoring has also increased over their last 10 games as they have scored almost as many goals as the Ducks have, with 3.40 goals per game over the last 10 Capitals games. The Capitals defense is the 7th worst in the NHL, allowing 2.94 goals against per game, and over their last 10 games the Capitals have allowed 3.20 goals against per game. When the Capitals play at Home, they allow 3.10 goals against per game while the Anaheim defense allows 2.87 goals against per game when playing on the road. The Capitals have had their last four games go over the total, with 31 total goals scored in their last 4 games, which is an average of 7.75 goals per game on the scoreboard. Four of the last six Ducks road games have gone over the total, while one game resulted in a “push” on exactly 5 goals, while the other game ended in 5 goals but the total was set at 5.5 in that game. Also note that the Ducks have had 19 games go over this season, while 16 have stayed under. The last four Home games for the Capitals have all gone over the total, with 36 total goals scored across the Capitals last four home games (average of 9 goals per game). We should expect to see lots of goals scored in Washington on Monday evening.

Pittsburgh Penguins @ Ottawa Senators : PENGUINS 1.81

Risk: 2 Units | Win: 1.62 Units

The Penguins will look to extend their 7 game winning streak to 8 against the Senators on Monday. The Penguins have been without Malkin for 4 games but that hasn’t stopped them from racking up the goals. The red hot Penguins have scored 3.40 goals per game over their last 10 games, and in their 7 game win streak have accumulated 25 goals, for an average of 3.57 goals per game. Crosby has had points in his last 10 games and is still the NHL point leader with 54 points. The Penguins have kept things very tight defensively, allowing only 1.85 goals against per game in their 7 game win streak, and 1.90 goals against over their last 10 games. The tale has been quite the opposite for the Senators; they have allowed 3.20 goals against per game over their last 10 games while scoring only 2.30 goals per game in that span. The Senators are 10th overall when it comes to scoring, as they are scoring 2.76 goals per game overall, while the Penguins 3.10 goals per game is 5th overall. The Senators penalty kill unit is in trouble. The Sens are killing only 78.2% of their opponents power plays successfully, and the Penguins have the BEST power play in the NHL, that converts 26.2% of the time. The Senators are also not very disciplined with 13.3 penalty minutes per game, while the Pens are taking 10.8 PIM/G. The Pittsburgh power play has been an incredible 29% over their last 10 games while maintaining a 94.1 PK% over their last 10 games. The Senators power play is 12th overall at 19%, and has been effective only 12.7% of the time when playing at Home. Craig Anderson is confirmed as the starter for the Senators on Monday and has a .897 SV% (40th) and a 3.42 GAA (46th) and faces one of the hottest offenses in the NHL. Craig has allowed 4 goals per game in 3 of his last 5 starts. The Penguins shouldn’t have a problem defeating the Senators and we are getting them at a decent price.

St.Louis Blues @ Calgary Flames: BLUES -1  2.04

* Risk: 2 Units | Win: 2.08 Units (Member’s Only Pick)*

*Note: You will have to adjust the puck line from -1.5 to -1. Not all sports books offer this, so you may want to take the Blues in regulation for a lower payout, or the Blues -1.5 for a higher payout (2.75 or so). Note though that the Blues -1.5 may be risky, as the Flames have kept 5 of their last 6 losses within 1 goal. The Blues in regulation time should pay around 1.95 if you choose to take it*

The Blues will play their second game in Alberta, after dominating the Edmonton Oilers 6-0 on Saturday night. The Blues are currently 5th place overall in the NHL with 52 points. The Blues are now 24-7-4 on the season, and 10-4-2 on the road. The Calgary Flames have lost 4 games in a row, scoring only 8 goals in 4 games (average of 2 goals per game), while allowing 13 goals against. The St.Louis offense is 2nd overall with an impressive 3.49 goals per game, while their defense remains solid (6th) allowing only 2.29 goals against per game. The Flames offense was scoring 3+ goals per game at the beginning of the season, but has slowed to a crawl scoring only 2.47 goals per game (20th overall) and managing to score only 2.10 goals per game over their last 10 games, and 2 goals per game in their last 4 games which were all losses. The Flames defense is 4th worst in the NHL allowing 3.14 goals against per game, and 3.25 goals against per game over their last 4 games. The Blues are less disciplined than the Flames, taking 14.3 penalty minutes per game while the Flames take 10.8 PIM/G. Luckily for us, the Blues have the 6th best penalty kill in the League (85.5%), and have a 90.6% road penalty kill. The St.Louis power play is also impressive at 21.9% (5th overall), while the Flames have a 13.8 PP% which is 26th overall. The Flames power play has been effective only 12.5% of the time over their last 10 games. The Flames take the 3rd fewest shots of any team in the NHL with 26.9 shots per game, and must face a confirmed Jaroslav Halak in goal tonight. Halak has a 17-6-2 record accompanied by a 2.30 GAA (14th) and a .910 SV% (28th) and has allowed only 1 goal in his last start, against the Montreal Canadiens. It appears the Flames will start Reto Berra in goal tonight, also confirmed. Berra has gone 4-8-2 this season, and has a 3.10 GAA (43rd) and a .899 SV% (41st). Berra allowed 2 goals in each of his last two starts (both against Boston), however Boston has not shown the offensive abilities that the Blues have this season. If the Blues play like the did in Edmonton on Saturday, they should have no problem defeating the Flames tonight. If the Blues win by exactly 1 goal this will be a “push”, which is the better option than the puck line for us, as the Flames have kept 5 of their last 6 losses within 1 goal.