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Vulgar Opinions: Wagering on the 2011-2012 NHL Season (SFW)

09/29/11
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The other day, Puck Daddy posted a list of over/under point totals that Vegas has formulated for each team.  For those of you that don’t know gambling, the premise is simple: you either bet the team will get more, or less points than their listed total.  All totals are listed in half points so there’s no possibility of a tie.

Three Sure Bets:

1). The OVER on Buffalo at 98.5 Points

Last season the Sabres suffered an almost catastrophic rash of injuries early on and had their three best players in Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, and Tyler Myers, start off the season playing like total crap.  At one point the top two centers were a guy that doesn’t even play center (Jochen Hecht) and a guy who is 900 years old (Rob Niedermayer).  And the Sabres STILL scrapped their way to 96 points last season.  One and a half more wins doesn’t seem like a stretch with Derek Roy and Ryan Miller healthy and a vastly improved defense.

2). The UNDER on Boston at 102.5

Some of it is history (no team has won the Northeast two years in a row), some of it is the Stanley Cup Hangover, and some of it is some players not having as good of a season as they did last year.  Tim Thomas will not break more records, and Milan Lucic is not a 30 goal scorer.

3). The UNDER on Detroit at 104.5

The team lost Brian Rafalski, but added Ian White and Mike Commodore.  One of those things is better than the other, and it’s not what they added.  Plus, it’s time to face facts; the team is getting older.  At times last year, Niklas Lidstrom looked closer to ordinary than all world defenseman, and some of the teams in their division (St. Louis and Columbus) made serious improvements.

Three Pretty Good Bets:

1). The OVER on Carolina at 83.5 Points

Look, I think Carolina was a crappy team to begin with and got a little bit worse in losing Erik Cole and making up for it by adding a bunch of third liners.  But the sheer will of Cam Ward, Eric Staal, and Jeff Skinner should keep them in the 85-90 point range.  It’ll be too close to feel good about, but I think they’ll get there.  Of course, the second you bet on the over, Cam Ward will probably blow out his knee.

2). The UNDER on Phoenix at 87.5 Points

Mike Smith and Jason Labarbera.  That’s all you really need to know.  But if you think it might have been the system more than Bryzgalov, remember they lost part of that too with Jovanovski heading out.  Plus they play in a division with San Jose, Los Angeles, and Anaheim.  Ouch.

3). The OVER on Columbus at 85.5 Points

Columbus adds Jeff Carter, James Wisniewski, Radek Martinek, and Vinny Prospal, and loses Scottie Upshall, Jan Hejda, and Jakub Voracek.  Upgrade across the board (even though the positions don’t quite match).  It’s hard to completely get behind Columbus because they’re so good at underachieving, but I think come March they’ll be sniffing around eighth place, and that means 90+ points.

Three Semi Crazy Bets that I’ll Stand Behind

1). The OVER on St. Louis at 92.5 Points

St. Louis lost virtually nothing, and added some solid third liners in Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott to add to their considerable scoring depth.  Quick, how many Blues played 70 or more games?  If you answered six, you’re right!  That tied Ottawa for least in the league.  A healthy team like Philadelphia had 14 players play 70+ games, and 11 players play 80+ games.  (Not counting guys acquired through trades.)  St. Louis got off to a hot start last year until injuries eventually crippled their season.  Mark my words, St. Louis will be a factor in the West.

2). The OVER on Washington at 107.5 Points

Yes, it’s insane to take the over on a total that high, but I LOVED what Washington did in the offseason.  They lost Semyon Varlamov, Eric Fehr and Jason Arnott, but they added Tomas Vokoun, Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Joel Ward, and Roman Hamrlik.  Vokoun isn’t even going to have to be awake in his crease for the Capitals to win games.

3). Take the OVER on Ottawa at 73.5 Points

Look, I HATED what Ottawa did this offseason.  Their moves (adding Zenon Konopka and Alex Auld) were basically worthless.  But…they didn’t lose much either, which means they’ve got a bunch of young guys that have played together a lot.  Generally that bodes well for a team in the long run.  I could see them sitting at the trade deadline with four wins and trying to shop Jason Spezza…OR…I could see their young guys starting to gel and them playing .500 hockey over the last few weeks of the season.

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