The NHL All-Star break is coming this weekend, leaving many hockey teams in panic mode as they try to close the first half of the schedule on a positive note. That could be tougher for some squads than others, considering their current form.
Hockey bettors who want to make some expert sports betting picks may be able to squeeze some extra value out of the NHL moneyline by backing these desperate teams, trying to right the ship before the annual mid-season hiatus.
Washington Capitals (28-15-4-1, +4.82 units)
The Capitals are on top of the Metropolitan Division, five points ahead of New Jersey. However, the Capitals are on a three-game slide entering Thursday’s date with the Florida Panthers. Washington has had a bit of a mini-break, last taking the ice in a loss to Philadelphia Sunday.
This game against Florida is the Capitals’ only chance to get back in the win column before the All-Star break and the team is putting an emphasis on offense after managing just three goals in their last two and six total goals during this three-game slide.
Washington is by no means the offensive powerhouse it once was, but is still averaging three goal a night despite sitting at the very bottom of the league in shots on goal (28.7 shots per game). Hockey bettors should expect a fresh and rested Caps offense to come out gunning against one of the worst defensive clubs in the NHL (Panthers giving up 3.2 goals a night).
Chicago Blackhawks (22-19-5-1, -6.69 units)
My how the mighty have fallen. Chicago sits at the bottom of the Central Division and has taken NHL bettors down with them. The Blackhawks’ recent three-game slide has cost Chicago backers -4.46 units, with the team getting shutout in two of those contests. That’s a break from the norm for this team, which averages three goals per game and tops the NHL in shots per contest, peppering opposing netminders almost 35 times an outing.
The Blackhawks have two fellow Original Six squads on the schedule before the All-Star Break in Toronto and Detroit. The rival Red Wings blanked Chicago 4-0 just last week and will face the Blackhawks in the second night of back-to-back games Thursday.
Chicago has no excuse when it comes to rest. The Blackhawks just came off their scheduled “bye”, enjoying a week off before laying an egg at home versus the Islanders, giving up seven goals in that loss. It seems the loss of No. 1 goaltender Corey Crawford in December is beginning to catch up to Chicago, which hasn’t had reliable options in Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass.
Calgary Flames (25-16-2-4, +0.29 units)
The Flames are one team that wishes the All-Star break would come later. Despite losing two in a row, Calgary has caught fire, with a 7-1-2 record in its last 10 outings. That streak has pulled this team into contention in the Pacific Division, just behind San Jose.
The Flames have two chances to snuff out that two-game stumble and add to their recent success before the break, facing the Los Angeles Kings at home Wednesday and taking on the rival Edmonton Oilers on the road Thursday. There’s a good shot that could come as a value play away from home, with Calgary boasting a 13-5-1-3 record as a visitor.
The secret to the team’s recent turnaround has been the defense, which has held opponents to two or fewer goals in eight of their last 10 contests, including each of the past seven games. Unfortunately, the offense has shown up each night, suffering back-to-back 2-1 losses heading into Wednesday’s date with the Kings.