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NHL’s best over teams

NHL’s best over teams

NHL’s best over teams

The oddsmakers clearly bought the hype that NHL scoring would stay in the stratosphere. So far the games haven’t met their expectations. Only eight teams have records that favor the over. Of those, only five deserve membership on our list of solid over bets.

1) Carolina Hurricanes (21-16 O/U record)

Five NHL teams score an average of three goals or more a game. Eight clubs concede three or more. Carolina is the only squad on both lists.

The Hurricanes’ scorers exploded out of the gate at the beginning of the season. Now, to the delight of totals bettors, undisciplined play and spotty defense is chipping in to help the over trend.

New Year’s Eve is a case in point: Carolina gave up four goals to the New York Islanders, a team with the league’s most anemic offense. Hurricanes goaltender John Grahame was pulled in the second period, and the Islanders notched three power-play goals.

“We were playing pretty hard and then you get penalties and that’s the killer,” Carolina center Rob Brind’Amour told the Times-News.

The Hurricanes have conceded more power-play goals (46) than any other team. Yet they still find themselves at the top of the weak Southeast Division because of the productivity of forwards like Ray Whitney, Cory Stillman and Eric Staal.

2) Tampa Bay Lightning (21-16 O/U)

They may boast the league’s top scorer in Vincent Lecavalier, but what makes the Lightning a true over bet is their inability to stop the puck.

Goaltending is a constant nightmare for head coach John Tortorella. Tampa Bay never recovered from letting Nikolai Khabibulin sign with the Blackhawks in 2004.

Pricey backup Marc Denis was assigned to the AHL last week after posting a 1-5-0 record and a 4.05 goal-against average this year. Starter Johan Holmqvist also continues to stumble. The Swede’s 3.07 GAA puts him 37th on the list of 42 NHL goaltenders who are on pace to play at least 27 games this season.

3) Detroit Red Wings (19-15 O/U)

The delicious-to-watch scoring skill of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk makes Detroit an obvious pick for this list. The two ushered in the New Year with 99 points combined.

Only the Ottawa Senators score more goals per game than the Red Wings. Both teams are well ahead of the third-place Philadelphia Flyers.

Goaltenders Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood’s continued solid play, and the team’s eight shutouts, keep Detroit from being higher on this list.

4) Chicago Blackhawks (18-16 O/U)

Rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are among four Blackhawks starting 2008 with over 30 points to their name. Chicago ranks sixth in goals scored and that’s even with the skilled Martin Havlat missing most of the season.

Chicago is holding its own defensively. But the team’s regular defensemen are getting injured. Veteran Brent Sopel broke his finger on Dec. 28 and James Wisniewski suffered a knee injury that may keep him off the ice until the end of January.

It could be a recipe for more games reaching the number.

5) Edmonton Oilers (21-18 O/U)

The young Oilers are conceding plenty of goals. However, their own lack of scoring keeps them from being ranked higher.

Sheldon Souray’s heavy slapshot was on the shelf for the first month of the season as the defenseman started the year on the IR. He’s back now, but has scored only twice in 15 games.

Forwards Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky and the newly acquired Dustin Penner are posting OK offensive numbers, but it drops off after that.

Honorable mentions: Washington Capitals (19-18 O/U); Toronto Maple Leafs (18-17 O/U); Ottawa Senators (19-17 O/U)

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