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NHL weekly betting report

NHL weekly betting report

NHL weekly betting report
By T.O. Whenham

It might still be too early for the large majority of sports fans and bettors to pay too much attention to the NHL, or even care that hockey season is underway, but the season is old enough (as many as nine games for the Rangers) that we are beginning to get a sense of what the season has to hold for us. That doesn't mean that what we see now is what we will get all year. At least that's what I'm telling myself as a Calgary Flames fan. It does mean, though, that as bettors we have a large enough sample size to start forming some short term opinions, and hopefully turning those opinions into cash. As we try to do that, here are the stories that stuck out this week:

Anaheim Ducks

It's a good thing that they changed their name, because Mickey's favorite team isn't looking very mighty these days. Anaheim, a team that was supposed to be among the elite in the league from the outset, has stumbled very badly. They have played like they can in just one of their six games, and it's no surprise then that they have just one win. J.S. Giguere hasn't been nearly good enough - even a shutout in the win couldn't get his save percentage above 90 percent. On top of all that, GM Brian Burke is providing nothing but distractions - his likely move to the same job in Toronto next year is one of the worst kept secrets in a long while. This team has the talent and veteran leadership to turn things around, but it could still get ugly in the short term.

Thomas Vanek

It's hard to believe that this Buffalo right winger has only been in the league for three seasons prior to this one. He's not yet a household name, but that should change any time now. It would be lazy to say that he is having a breakout year - the guy averaged 35 goals a year over his first three seasons. The 24-year-old, who was named the league's first star this past week, is taking it all to a new level this year, though. He has seven goals in Buffalo's first five games, and he has added a couple of assists for good measure. He has a goal in every game, and is the biggest single reason why the Sabres are unbeaten except for a shootout loss. Guys get off to hot starts every year only to fade into oblivion by Veteran's Day, but Vanek isn't soon to be forgotten.

Edmonton Oilers

I hate every single thing about Edmonton. My hometown of Calgary is like Michigan to their Ohio State, Texas to their Oklahoma, or the Red Sox to their Yankees. It kills me, then, to have to admit that this team looks good. Quite good. They have won all four of their games to date, and all have been against teams expected to be Western Conference contenders. Two have even come on the road. Coming into the season their goaltending was a serious concern, but so far it has been solid. The power play has been very good, too. Most notably, they are playing a disciplined, responsible style - only fve of their players are negative on the plus/minus. By contrast, Calgary has 18 players sitting below zero in that telling measure. Coming into this season, the Oilers were a big question mark. As much as I hate to admit it, early indications are that they could be solid.

Sean Avery

Avery made his return to New York wearing a Dallas jersey this week. The media was all over it. He's a pest and an agitator. He also gets much, much more attention than he deserves. The way Avery is talked about you'd think that he is a difference maker of a grand scale. If that were the case then the Rangers would be in the tank and Dallas would be flying high. The exact opposite is true. Do yourself a favor and pretend that Avery doesn't exist when you handicap.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers moved the start time for their Saturday game ahead so that it wouldn't conflict with game three of the World Series. I find this funny. The Phillies are in the World Series for the first time in eons. The Flyers haven't won yet, and the way they look that isn't a fluke. Do the Flyers honestly think that their start time matters? Unless they played their game in center field of Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night I can't imagine that more than three people in the city would care.

Chicago Blackhawks

It seems hard to believe that this team was heavily hyped coming into the season. It is way too early to write them off, but things are bleak. The record isn't a disaster - they are 2-2-2 after six games, and they have won two of three. It's what has happened in the front office that is the issue. A healthy, cohesive team does not fire their coach four games into the season. Even the Rams and the Raiders waited until longer into their seasons proportionately to pull the trigger, and their problems were obvious to the whole world. This could all change, and it's perhaps even likely that it will, but for now it is hard to look at this as a healthy or trustworthy team.

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