Hello, dear readers. Welcome to our Best Bets NHL column in which SIA pinpoints five essential hot and cold streaks that betters should be aware of this week when making their choices.
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Connor McDavid’s Scintillating January
No one would bat an eye at the argument that Connor McDavid is an amazing player who earns lots of points. What else is new? Well, the NHL’s offensive guru has earned at least one point in every game so far in 2023. He hasn’t always scored, mind you, but at his worst, such as in a 3-2 OT defeat to the Avalanche, he chipped in with at least an assist. The only issue with his offensive prowess is that often comes at the expense of defensive duties. Since Jan 1., his +/- is -2. Of note, the Oilers win when McDavid’s +/- is positive or nil and lose when it’s negative.
How long can he keep it going? The Oilers play the Kraken on Tuesday, a team that doesn’t have stellar defence or goaltending, and the Canucks on Saturday. The Lightning on Thursday may prove to be the biggest test this streak faces. For some extra fun, how many more games can come to pass in which Edmonton’s fate correlates with McDavid’s +/- stats?
NHL 22/23 - Awards - Hart Memorial Trophy (reg. season)
Seattle Gets Kraken
The Pacific Northwestern club will make a couple of appearances in this week’s column, and in both cases for the right reasons. First, we begin with their consistency to cover the puck line. Don’t look now, but the Kraken has covered all games on their 2023 slate thus far, with the exception of Monday’s loss to the Lightning.
Granted, it’s just past the middle of January, but the streak was nevertheless impressive. Moreover, most of those opportunities (seven of eight) were away from home. They currently have a run of seven straight road victories, one of the best streaks in the league this season. Now, it’s important to be realistic. Streaks do two things: they continue, and they end. This won’t go on indefinitely, but clearly, Seattle is finding its stride in this early stage of 2023.
Devilish Road Warriors
It usually creates a buzz whenever a team is in the habit of earning better results away from home. Simply put, most often results tend to go the other way around, with clubs feeding off the energy of their supporters and being comfortable in their own building. The New Jersey Devils have given new meaning to the term “road warriors.”
New Jersey is a stunning 17-2-1 when playing outside of Newark and has strung together six consecutive successful covers when travelling. A look at their performances over the past month or so is almost comical. It’s a near-perfect sequence of alternating wins on the road and losses at home. This impressive ability to handle road games will be put to the test on Thursday when they head to Seattle, but lo and behold, the Kraken also struggle more at home.
New York Islanders scoring drought
If there is one NHL team that should be on the minds of those who enjoy playing the O/U, it’s the New York Islanders. There is a dearth of offence from this group right now. The Under has prevailed in six of the team’s last eight contests, with one push and one Over.
Unbelievably, over that same stretch, only once as the attack lit the red light more than twice in a single game, that coming on Jan. 3 versus the Canucks, which featured an outburst for six scores in a 6-2 drubbing. It also hasn’t mattered whether the games were at home or away, with eight games evenly split in that regard. They currently sport an average of 3.02 goals per game, but should this streak continue, they could see themselves becoming the 10th unit in the league that statistically can’t muster even three per outing.
NHL 22/23 - Awards - Vezina Trophy (reg. season)
Seattle’s Red-Light District
On the other end of the spectrum is the Seattle Kraken. They sit third in the NHL in goals scored per contest, with an average of 3.76. Conversely, to the delight of those who like the Over – and the horror of the team’s coach – Seattle coughs up 3.07 goals on an average day at the office. In total, about 6.83 goals are scored in a Kraken game, which sits above the 6-to-6.5 O/U that’s often established.
This depends a lot on whom they play. Beating Montreal 4-0 doesn’t support this argument. Their next few dates are with offensively-minded opponents: the Devils (Jan. 19), and the Canucks (Jan. 25), games that could very much favour the Over.