In his weekly column Pucking the Trends Illegal Curve’s Ari Baum-Cohen looks at news from around the NHL and the potential impact on bettors.
Parity and the Puckline
So, how have those puckline bets been going?
Through Sunday, 34 of the first 63 games (54 percent) of the NHL campaign have been one-goal games, creating lopsided results for bettors playing the puckline.
According to Buffalo Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff, "this league (the NHL) is so tight, it's so close, that you can get outshot badly and you can still win a game…but there's not much that separates one team from another now."
The Buffalo News, John Vogl suggests that the salary-cap system implemented by the NHL is creating parity. He points to the 2008-2009 season as evidence, where only seven points separated sixth from 12th place in the Western Conference and eight points divided fourth from 10th in the East.
Over-emphasis on the rules
While the first 11 days of the NHL season have not been “total” chaos, 59 percent of games have gone over.
In his Oct. 9 piece for the Detroit News, Red Wings beat writer Chris McCosky draws attention to the unusual number of 5-on-3 situations Detroit has had early in the season.
Why are so many penalties being called around the league?
Red Wings Chris Osgood believes the referees “call the most ridiculous things for the first two months of the season trying to jack up the scores then they call nothing as the season goes along.”
If the penalty calls slow down, so should scoring.
Why the Hurricanes blow
After a strong finish to last season, the Carolina Hurricanes were expected to be one of the stronger teams in the East. Outside of a 7-2 beating of a travel-weary Panthers club, the ‘Canes are 2-3 and have been outscored 17-13.
Luke Decock of the Carolina News & Observer suggests that Carolina’s slow start is related to the cautious way the club approached the 2009-2010 season. He points to Carolina’s four game preseason schedule and low-impact training camp.
If his theory is true, then Carolina should find its winning form soon, and the slow start could provide value to Hurricanes backers.
Bad luck Canucks
Like the Hurricanes, the Vancouver Canucks have started 2-3. In addition to their slow start, the Canucks have been dealing with injuries.
Vancouver’s best scorer Daniel Sedin will be out four-six weeks with a broken foot after being hit with a shot from teammate Alex Edler. Pavol Demitra is not progressing well from off-season shoulder surgery and defenseman Sami Salo left Sunday’s game with an injury.
Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail observes that Daniel’s injury is the first lengthy separation the Sedin twins have faced as professionals.
“We’re going to need help from the total group,” head coach Alain Vigneault said. “You don’t replace a guy like Danny.”
Though Vancouver was able to score four goals last game and go over the total, it will likely have difficulty finding the back of the net without Daniel Sedin.
The Blackhawks have averaged 3.6 goals per game this season en route to a 3-1-1 record.
Chicago Tribune writer Chris Kuc suggests that the Blackhawks’ offensive success is largely due to the play of their defensemen. Of Chicago’s 18 goals this year, a defenseman has scored or assisted on 16 of those markers.
Coach Joel Quenneville is confident in his defensemen’s ability to score. “Our defense is a big part of our offense,” says Quenneville. “Guys can handle the puck, they can make plays, they shoot the puck well and they're active."
Chicago has gone over the total in its last two games, including a 6-5 win after trailing 5-0 Monday against the Flames.