PHT Oddsmaker will be a regular feature where we set pretend odds and pretend to gamble on them. If you’d like to bet real money, meet us in the alley and we’ll talk.
Longest suspension to be handed out during the 2011-12 regular season (Over/under 8.5 games)
In other words, will any player do something worse in the eyes of the NHL than James Wisniewski did to Cal Clutterbuck in the preseason? There have been six suspensions doled out since the regular season started, none for more than five games. I also can’t help but wonder, if Wisniewski hit Clutterbuck now instead of then, would he still get eight games? Clearly Brendan Shanahan wanted to let everyone know there was a new sheriff in town when he took over, and he certainly got everyone’s attention. It’s different now. The players know he’s not messing around. I’ll take the under here, though I hate the thought of underestimating the potential for certain hockey players to do really stupid stuff. Is Trevor Gillies in the NHL anymore?
Which player will finish with more points? Teemu Selanne (-110) versus Jaromir Jagr (-110)
Selanne has 15 points in 17 games; Jagr’s got 17 in 17. This should be a close race, but I’ll take Selanne. The Ducks are desperate for scoring and even more desperate for wins. They can’t afford to rest anyone who can put the puck in the net, even if he’s 41. On the other hand, I can see the Flyers being extra careful with Jagr, 39, as the 82-game season progresses. Remember, the KHL only plays a 56-game schedule, plus the playoffs. The most games Jagr’s played in the last three years is 64. The Flyers will want him fresh for April, and since they already score lots of goals, dialing back his ice-time shouldn’t be a problem.
Odds the Minnesota Wild make the playoffs (+175)
Heading into tonight’s action, Minnesota (10-5-3) was four points clear of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s just hard to believe it can stay that way. Let’s break it down. Here are the teams I’m fairly confident will make the playoffs in the West: Chicago, Detroit, San Jose and Vancouver. After those four, it’d be unfair to count out Nashville and Phoenix considering what they’ve done the past few seasons. Tough to picture Los Angeles failing to qualify. St. Louis is a talented team that’s starting to roll with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench. That’s eight teams right there, and I haven’t even mentioned Dallas, though the Stars haven’t looked very good lately. Even at those odds, I’ll have to pass on the Wild.
Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’
Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.
“There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”
Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”
Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.
From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.
Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.
With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.
Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes
It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.
Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:
Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49
Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.
Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.
Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.
Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.
Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.
Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win
Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.
The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”
Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.
Lundqvist: "We didn’t give up as much, and it shows how committed we need to be in our own end.”
Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.
Mike Babcock: The back end was in lots of trouble tonight.
The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.
So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus
Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.
Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.
The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.
Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.
Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.
This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.
More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.