Phantom’s NHL Picks – Saturday Night Edition January 20, 2012
After a lengthy Christmas and mid-season holiday, Phantom Picks are back! So this Saturday, instead of tearing out what’s left of your hair, grab a pen and paper and get ready for the tips and predictions that will make your night a successful one. There are four afternoon games this Saturday, but I recommend just enjoying the unpredictability of Saturday afternoon hockey and saving your wagering for the evening lineup. Also all four afternoon games should be pretty intense, as three of them feature top contenders playing their division or conference rivals. So as good as the games will be to watch, they won’t be the easiest to predict. But I do recommend taking some mental notes, as there is a good chance these teams will meet again come April. Lets take a closer look at the ten remaining games…
Montreal @ Toronto
What hockey fan doesn’t love the Habs and the Leafs squaring off on Saturday night. This is the tradition HNIC was built on, and these teams never disappoint. I’m not going to say that this will be an exception, as it should still be an entertaining, high scoring affair. But right now these are two teams in different phases of their season. The Leafs are fighting hard to reclaim that 8th spot, and Montreal is going through a bit of an identity crisis. I’ll take the Leafs at 1.50.
Carolina @ New York Islanders
Here’s a battle of two basement dwellers that are closer to draft picks than a playoff spots. But the Islanders have been playing better hockey as of late, and I would give them the nod in this bout. That being said, this is one of the only teams Carolina does have a shot at beating, even considering their road record. I will take New York at 1.55, but the 2.00 the Canes are getting is worth noting.
Columbus @ Detroit
Detroit has only lost 2, ya I said 2 games at home all year long. I don’t think the NHL’s worst team is going to give them their third. Take the measly 1.20, and move on.
Florida @ Winnipeg
These teams are both fighting for that 8th spot that Florida currently holds. If you look at the road record of Florida and the home record of Winnipeg, this should be a no-brainer in favour of the Jets. But the Panthers will be fighting a little harder to protect their spot, and I would give them the edge if it weren’t for the fact that they played a late game against Chicago last night. Look for this one to possibly go into overtime with the Jets continuing their winning ways at home. Winnipeg at 1.60.
Buffalo @ St. Louis
For the last decade I would give the clear advantage in goaltending to the Sabres. And to start this season I would have still given it to the Sabres. But as of right now, not so much. Miller is frustrated to say the least, and the tandem in St. Louis is now the best in the League. Look for that to be the difference again for the Blues as they continue to climb their way to the top of the standings. St. Louis at 1.35.
Chicago @ Nashville
This is one of those tight divisional games you love to watch on a Saturday night. Chicago is the better team, and Nashville is the hotter team. I was leaning towards Nashville at home, but I just can’t pick against “Captain Serious” when he is in the zone. This guy (Jonathon Toews) just loves to win big games. I do like the 1.85 Nashville is getting at home, but they are also down Suter. Chicago at 1.65.
Tampa Bay @ Phoenix
Tampa, for me, is probably the most disappointing story of the year. They have tremendous talent but for some reason cannot keep the puck out of their net. They have given up a league worst 159 goals! Stamkos does have the ability to win a game single handedly, and I love the 2.00 that they’re getting, but they also played last night in Dallas. It pains me to do it but give me Phoenix at home for 1.55.
Dallas @ Minnesota
Minnesota is on the biggest slide of the season, and I don’t see it stopping here with their captain still out. I’m also not a huge fan of Dallas right now either though, and they did play last night. Hmm, I guess in this battle of mediocrity I’ll have to take the bigger odds. Dallas at 1.90.
Calgary @ Edmonton
Calgary would be the clear favorite if they were hosting, but things the way they are Edmonton has the slight advantage at home. Calgary has been the better team lately especially with the big three being out for the Oilers, but the Oil did just get Eberle back. This is the West Coast equivalent of Toronto-Montreal and should be a good tilt. That being said I’ll take the slight edge of the hometown team who are actually getting underdog odds. Edmonton at 1.80.
Colorado @ Los Angeles
This is a tougher game to call than it looks. The obvious favorite is L.A as they should be the better team. But taking a closer look at the stats, L.A doesn’t score many goals. In fact they have scored the least amount of goals in the league with 106. But they have also only given up 107 goals with is the 5th least in the league. So based on these stats it’s safe to say that they play a tight checking, low scoring game that quite often ends in overtime or a shootout, where they happen to be a league worse in both categories. And Colorado on the other hand is 7 and 0 in shootouts, and has only 2 overtime losses. I will still take L.A to win (hopefully in regulation), mainly due to the fact Duchene is still out for Colorado, but I wouldn’t put the mortgage on it. Los Angeles at 1.45.
New York Islanders
OWC (Odds Worth Considering)
Tampa Bay 2.00
That’s it for this week. Look for more Phantom picks coming next week. And as always, good luck, and let me know how you did!