Pucking the trends: No-vechkin and swine flu issues

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.

No-vechkin

The Washington Capitals announced that Alex Ovechkin is week-to-week with an upper-body strain.

According to Washington Times writer Corey Masisak, the Capitals don’t usually place the “week-to-week” label on a player unless the injury is serious. Washington coach Bruce Boudreau hopes Ovechkin won’t miss more than two weeks.

Boudreau has indicated that Washington will have to play a more defensive game in Ovechkin’s absence. 

"A goal a game he scores, so we got to play better defense and cannot allow four or five goals a game.”

In three games without Ovechkin last year the Caps were 1-2, averaging only 1.67 goals per game.

Swine flu and you

So far the Edmonton Oilers have been the hardest hit by the flu. Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun reports that at least 10 players have been suffering from either H1N1 or a nasty strain of the regular flu.

Oilers coach Pat Quinn has noticed the effect the flu has had on his team.

"We've played good half games and then seemed to die,” said Quinn. “You don't like to make excuses, but maybe there's something in there."

Edmonton is 1-5-0 in its last six contests and has been outscored 20-9.

SOL (Shootout Losses)

One of the most frustrating occurrences for NHL bettors is when the team they back loses in a shootout.

Which team was the NHL’s worst in the shootout?

Damien Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times points out that the Tampa Bay Lightning were not only a league-worst 3-10 in shootouts last year, but they have also started out this season 0-4.

"It's unacceptable," said Lightning forward Steven Stamkos. "With the amount of skill we have, it's just one of those things. There's really no way to explain it. You have to score."

The Atlanta Thrashers had the league’s best shootout record last year at 7-1.

As an alternative to traditional straight betting, some betting sites offer game lines that apply only to regulation play.

The Cranderson effect

The NHL has released its Three Stars for October and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson was named the first star.

Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault called the Avs goalie “the best player in the NHL right now.”

As Adrian Dater of the Denver Post observes, Anderson tied the NHL record for goaltender victories in October with 10.

The Avs have posted a 10-3-2 record, despite a schedule that included a four-game and a seven-game road trip.

How unexpected has Colorado’s success been?  Through its first 15 games, Colorado has only been a favorite once this season, when they were -106 to beat the Carolina Hurricanes.

Anderson has started every game for Colorado, has a 2.11 GAA and is tied for the league lead with a .936 save percentage.

On Schedule

Pittsburgh Penguins California Tour

As Josh Yohe points out in his Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article, Pittsburgh is 1-13 with one tie in California dating back to 1999. The Penguins play the Ducks on Tuesday, Los Angeles on Thursday and San Jose on Saturday.

Thursday Nov. 5 – Tampa Bay Lightning at Ottawa Senators

Tampa Bay will be playing its third road game in four nights on Thursday in Ottawa.  While the Lightning will battle fatigue, the Senators will have to worry about rust. The Senators will not have played since a Saturday loss at home to Atlanta.

Saturday Nov. 7, New York Rangers at Calgary Flames

The New York Rangers fly across the continent to play Vancouver on Tuesday, Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Saturday. Brent Sutter’s Flames will be ready for Saturday’s tilt, as it will be Calgary’s lone home game sandwiched between two road trips.

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