NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

Hockey Today

SCOREBOARD

Thursday, Oct. 30

Detroit at San Jose (10:30 p.m. EDT). The Central Division-leading and Stanley Cup champion Red Wings visit the Sharks, the leaders of the Pacific Division, in an early matchup of top teams in the Western Conference.

STARS

Wednesday

— Teemu Selanne, Ducks, scored three goals for his 21st NHL hat trick and helped Anaheim to a 5-4 overtime victory against Detroit.

— Tobias Stephan, Stars, made 19 saves to earn his first NHL win, lifting Dallas over Minnesota 4-2.

— Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks, had five assists to lift Anaheim to a 5-4 victory in overtime against the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings.

— Matt Stajan, Maple Leafs, scored two goals in Toronto’s 6-5 shootout victory at New Jersey.

— Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings, scored two goals in Detroit’s 5-4 overtime loss at Anaheim.

LONG TIME COMING

Tobias Stephan waited more than a year to make up for a heartbreaking loss. Stephan made 19 saves and posted his first NHL victory in the Dallas Stars’ 4-2 home win over the Minnesota Wild. The 24-year-old goalie has been searching for that victory since he made an emergency start against Chicago on Oct. 13, 2007. He took a shutout into the final moments, but the Blackhawks scored with 1.5 seconds remaining to force overtime and eventually won.

FIRST LOSS

The Minnesota Wild, who have allowed only 20 goals in eight games, lost in regulation for the first time this season, falling to the Dallas Stars 4-2 on Wednesday night (6-1-1). They allowed a power-play goal to the Stars’ Matt Niskanen, the first man-advantage tally given up by the Wild after they killed the first 24 this season.

CHAMPION REUNION

Francois Beauchemin batted in a rebound 1:39 into overtime, Teemu Selanne scored three goals for his 21st NHL hat trick and Ryan Getzlaf had five assists to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night in a matchup of the past two Stanley Cup champions. The loss was the first in six road games for the reigning champion Red Wings (7-2-1). Selanne’s hat trick was his 12th with Anaheim, and his 558 goals moved him past Johnny Bucyk into 21st place on the NHL career list.

TRADE WINDS

The NHL moved back its trade deadline one day to March 4 on Wednesday. The trading cutoff was originally slated for March 3, but there are 12 games on the league schedule that night. That forced a switch to the following day when only two games will be played. The league and the NHL Players’ Association agreed to the change.

SPEAKING

“We’ve had better nights. We gave them two gifts right from the start. They’re a good team. They don’t give you a lot.”—Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire after the Wild’s 4-2 road loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.

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Re: NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

Hot Teams
-- Rangers won their first three games, allowing five goals.
-- Flyers won their last three games, scoring 16 goals.
-- Panthers won three of their four home games.
-- Minnesota won six of its first eight games. Canadiens won six of their last seven contests.
-- Predators won three of their four home games.
-- Hurricanes lost four of their last six games. Blues are 4-2 in their first six home games.
-- Bruins won their last three games, the last two by 1-0 scores. Flames won three of their last four home contests.
-- Avalanche won five of their last six games.
-- Sharks won eight of their first ten games. Red Wings won five of last six games, losing in OT last night to Ducks

Cold teams
-- Thrashers lost their first four games, outscored 20-9.
-- Islanders lost last four games, outscored 15-8.
-- Sabres lost last two games, scoring three goals. Lightning lost six of its first eight games, but did win two of last three.
-- Edmonton lost last four games, outscored 14-4.
-- Senators lost four of their last five games.
-- Blue Jackets lost three of last four road games.
-- Penguins lost three of their last four road games. Coyotes lost four of their last five games.
-- Canucks lost four of their last five road games. Kings lost three of last four contests.

Series Records
-- Rangers won six of last eight games against Atlanta.
-- Flyers are 13-3 in their last sixteen games against the Islanders.
-- Sabres won eleven of last twelve games against Tampa Bay.
-- Senators won seven of last nine games against Florida; Panthers won at Ottawa 3-1 eight days ago.
-- Predators won their last eight games against Edmonton.
-- Home side won last two Carolina-St Louis games.
-- Avalanche won nine of last twelve games against Columbus.
-- Penguins won their last two games vs Phoenix, 7-2/3-1.
-- Red Wings won six of their last seven games against San Jose.
-- Canucks won three of last four visits to Staples Center.

Totals
-- Last five Ranger home games stayed under the total.
-- Over is 5-2 in Islanders' last seven games.
-- Last four Tampa Bay games stayed under the total.
-- Four of last five Florida games stayed under the total.
-- Over is 5-2-1 in Minnesota games this season.
-- Under is 6-2 in Edmonton games this season; last six Nashville games all went over the total. .
-- Under is 3-1 in Carolina's last four road games.
-- Last three Boston road games stayed under the total.
-- Last three Colorado games stayed under the total.
-- Four of last five Phoenix games stayed under the total.
-- Last four Detroit road games all went over the total.
-- All six Vancouver road games went over the total.

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Re: NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

ATLANTA (2-5-0-2, 6 pts.) at NY RANGERS (9-3-0-1, 19 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 7:05 PM
Top Trends for this game.
ATLANTA is 24-46 ATS (+73.1 Units) after allowing 4 goals or more over the last 3 seasons.
NY RANGERS are 27-9 ATS (+15.2 Units) in a home game where where the total is 5.5 over the last 3 seasons.
NY RANGERS are 71-87 ATS (-60.4 Units) in home games after a division game since 1996.
NY RANGERS are 54-66 ATS (-46.4 Units) in home games after a win by 2 goals or more since 1996.
NY RANGERS are 59-80 ATS (-73.7 Units) in home games after scoring 4 goals or more in their previous game since 1996.
NY RANGERS are 18-29 ATS (-30.5 Units) in home games after a 3 game unbeaten streak since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
NY RANGERS is 7-5 (+1.3 Units) against the spread versus ATLANTA over the last 3 seasons
NY RANGERS is 7-5-0 straight up against ATLANTA over the last 3 seasons
7 of 12 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+2.0 Units)

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NY ISLANDERS (2-6-0-0, 4 pts.) at PHILADELPHIA (3-3-0-3, 9 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 7:05 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
PHILADELPHIA is 9-7 (+2.9 Units) against the spread versus NY ISLANDERS over the last 3 seasons
PHILADELPHIA is 9-7-0 straight up against NY ISLANDERS over the last 3 seasons
10 of 15 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+4.2 Units)

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TAMPA BAY (2-3-0-3, 7 pts.) at BUFFALO (6-1-0-2, 14 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 7:05 PM
Top Trends for this game.
TAMPA BAY is 33-57 ATS (-26.6 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
TAMPA BAY is 51-104 ATS (+185.5 Units) in a road game where where the total is 5.5 since 1996.
TAMPA BAY is 17-30 ATS (-16.2 Units) first half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
BUFFALO is 139-96 ATS (+19.3 Units) after a loss by 2 goals or more in their previous game since 1996.
BUFFALO is 14-18 ATS (-18.0 Units) in home games after allowing 4 goals or more over the last 3 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
BUFFALO is 7-1 (+5.3 Units) against the spread versus TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons
BUFFALO is 7-1-0 straight up against TAMPA BAY over the last 3 seasons
5 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+1.6 Units)

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OTTAWA (3-5-0-1, 7 pts.) at FLORIDA (4-5-0-0, 8 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 7:35 PM
Top Trends for this game.
OTTAWA is 46-49 ATS (-33.1 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
OTTAWA is 15-19 ATS (-15.5 Units) after a division game over the last 2 seasons.
OTTAWA is 0-5 ATS (-6.9 Units) when playing against a team with a losing record this season.
OTTAWA is 0-5 ATS (-6.9 Units) when playing against a team with a losing record in the first half of the season this season.
FLORIDA is 85-101 ATS (+198.2 Units) in a home game where where the total is 5.5 since 1996.
FLORIDA is 198-223 ATS (+458.3 Units) when playing against a team with a losing record since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
OTTAWA is 7-2 (+3.6 Units) against the spread versus FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
OTTAWA is 7-2-0 straight up against FLORIDA over the last 3 seasons
4 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=-0.4 Units, Under=-0.2 Units)

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MONTREAL (7-1-0-1, 15 pts.) at MINNESOTA (6-0-0-1, 13 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 8:05 PM
Top Trends for this game.
MINNESOTA is 40-22 ATS (+17.2 Units) in home games when playing against a team with a winning record in the first half of the season since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
MONTREAL is 1-0 (+1.0 Units) against the spread versus MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
MONTREAL is 1-0-0 straight up against MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+1.0 Units)

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EDMONTON (4-3-0-1, 9 pts.) at NASHVILLE (4-4-0-1, 9 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 8:05 PM
Top Trends for this game.
EDMONTON is 45-45 ATS (+98.9 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
EDMONTON is 60-56 ATS (+132.9 Units) in road games after scoring 1 goal or less in their previous game since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
NASHVILLE is 8-0 (+8.6 Units) against the spread versus EDMONTON over the last 3 seasons
NASHVILLE is 8-0-0 straight up against EDMONTON over the last 3 seasons
5 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+2.3 Units)

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CAROLINA (4-2-0-2, 10 pts.) at ST LOUIS (5-3-0-0, 10 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 8:35 PM
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
ST LOUIS is 1-0 (+1.0 Units) against the spread versus CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
ST LOUIS is 1-0-0 straight up against CAROLINA over the last 3 seasons
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+1.0 Units)

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BOSTON (5-2-0-3, 13 pts.) at CALGARY (5-3-0-1, 11 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 9:05 PM
Top Trends for this game.
BOSTON is 22-17 ATS (+46.8 Units) in a road game where where the total is 5.5 over the last 2 seasons.
CALGARY is 9-13 ATS (-7.9 Units) in a home game where where the total is 5.5 over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
BOSTON is 1-0 (+1.3 Units) against the spread versus CALGARY over the last 3 seasons
BOSTON is 1-0-0 straight up against CALGARY over the last 3 seasons
0 of 0 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+0.0 Units)

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COLUMBUS (3-6-0-0, 6 pts.) at COLORADO (5-4-0-0, 10 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 9:05 PM
Top Trends for this game.
COLUMBUS is 38-45 ATS (+109.8 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 3 seasons.
COLORADO is 79-76 ATS (-73.8 Units) in home games after a division game since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
COLORADO is 5-3 (+0.7 Units) against the spread versus COLUMBUS over the last 3 seasons
COLORADO is 5-3-0 straight up against COLUMBUS over the last 3 seasons
5 of 8 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+2.1 Units)

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PITTSBURGH (5-3-0-2, 12 pts.) at PHOENIX (3-4-0-0, 6 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 10:05 PM
Top Trends for this game.
PITTSBURGH is 114-85 ATS (+14.3 Units) in all games over the last 3 seasons.
PITTSBURGH is 14-6 ATS (+20.4 Units) after scoring 1 goal or less in their previous game over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
PITTSBURGH is 2-0 (+2.1 Units) against the spread versus PHOENIX over the last 3 seasons
PITTSBURGH is 2-0-0 straight up against PHOENIX over the last 3 seasons
1 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+0.0 Units)

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DETROIT (7-1-0-1, 15 pts.) at SAN JOSE (8-2-0-0, 16 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 10:35 PM
Top Trends for this game.
SAN JOSE is 102-83 ATS (+197.1 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the first half of the season since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
DETROIT is 8-6 (+1.9 Units) against the spread versus SAN JOSE over the last 3 seasons
DETROIT is 8-6-0 straight up against SAN JOSE over the last 3 seasons
5 of 9 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+0.5 Units)

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VANCOUVER (4-5-0-0, 8 pts.) at LOS ANGELES (3-4-0-1, 7 pts.) - 10/30/2008, 10:35 PM
Top Trends for this game.
LOS ANGELES is 5-21 ATS (+27.6 Units) when playing against a team with a losing record in the first half of the season over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
LOS ANGELES is 4-4 (+3.2 Units) against the spread versus VANCOUVER over the last 3 seasons
LOS ANGELES is 4-4-0 straight up against VANCOUVER over the last 3 seasons
5 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+1.6 Units)

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Re: NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

7:00 PM ATLANTA vs. NY RANGERS
Atlanta is 2-6 SU in their last 8 games when playing NY Rangers
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta's last 6 games when playing NY Rangers
NY Rangers are 6-2 SU in their last 8 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of the NY Rangers last 5 games at home

7:00 PM NY ISLANDERS vs. PHILADELPHIA
NY Islanders are 3-8 SU in their last 11 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of the NY Islanders last 8 games on the road
Philadelphia is 7-1 SU in their last 8 games when playing NY Islanders
The total has gone UNDER in 13 of Philadelphia's last 19 games when playing NY Islanders

7:00 PM TAMPA BAY vs. BUFFALO
Tampa Bay is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games when playing Buffalo
Tampa Bay is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Buffalo
Buffalo is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games
Buffalo is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home

7:30 PM OTTAWA vs. FLORIDA
Ottawa is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games when playing Florida
Ottawa is 11-2 SU in its last 13 games when playing on the road against Florida
Florida is 9-4 SU in its last 13 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Florida's last 10 games at home

8:00 PM EDMONTON vs. NASHVILLE
Edmonton is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Edmonton's last 5 games
Nashville is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Edmonton
Nashville is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Edmonton

8:00 PM MONTREAL vs. MINNESOTA
Montreal is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Montreal's last 6 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Minnesota's last 5 games when playing Montreal
Minnesota is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games

8:30 PM CAROLINA vs. ST. LOUIS
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Carolina's last 9 games on the road
Carolina is 2-6-1 SU in its last 9 games when playing St. Louis
St. Louis is 8-1-1 SU in its last 10 games when playing at home against Carolina
St. Louis is 14-5-1 SU in its last 20 games when playing Carolina

9:00 PM BOSTON vs. CALGARY
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Boston's last 6 games
Boston is 1-4-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Calgary
Calgary is 4-1-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Boston
Calgary is 2-3-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Boston

9:00 PM COLUMBUS vs. COLORADO
Columbus is 4-20-1 SU in its last 25 games when playing Colorado
The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Columbus's last 12 games when playing Colorado
Colorado is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 9 of Colorado's last 13 games

10:00 PM PITTSBURGH vs. PHOENIX
Pittsburgh is 3-6 SU in its last 9 games when playing Phoenix
Pittsburgh is 2-5-2 SU in its last 9 games when playing on the road against Phoenix
Phoenix is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Phoenix's last 5 games

10:30 PM DETROIT vs. SAN JOSE
Detroit is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Detroit is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing San Jose
San Jose is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Detroit
San Jose is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing Detroit

10:30 PM VANCOUVER vs. LOS ANGELES
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Vancouver's last 6 games when playing Los Angeles
Vancouver is 6-3 SU in its last 9 games when playing on the road against Los Angeles
Los Angeles is 3-6 SU in its last 9 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Los Angeles's last 6 games

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Re: NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

Thursday’s Best NHL Bets
COVERS.com

Tampa Bay at Buffalo (-175, 5.5)

After a terrible start to the year, it looks as though the re-tooled Lightning are getting used to each other. Captain Vincent LeCavalier broke out with a pair of goals Tuesday, one of which was as pretty as you’re going to see on a breakaway, and Steven Stamkos notched his first point in the show to help push Tampa by a scrappy Leafs club.

There are other signs that the team is coming together, too. Stamkos took the ice first before that game started only to end up skating around by himself as the rest of the team watched from the bench – classic rookie prank. That’s the kind of thing that can get you out of a slump during the day-to-day grind of the NHL season.

Their record still isn’t anything to write home about at 2-3-3 but they might surprise Buffalo in this spot.

Pick: Tampa Bay


Boston at Calgary (-125, 5.5)

The Bruins have gotten off to a nice start behind a good mix of production from their kids and established veterans. Phil Kessel had a great showing at the last IIHF World Championships for the US and looks like he could score on any shift with the Bruins this year. He’s a strong playmaker and sees the ice very well.

Sophomore forward Milan Lucic is a beast on skates, too. He put Mike Van Ryn through the glass with a hit last week and then picked a hat trick against Atlanta. Not bad for a 20-year-old.

Meanwhile, veteran goalie Tim Thomas may be the biggest surprise between the pipes, posting a 1.88 GAA and a pair of shutouts through six starts.

Pick: Boston

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Re: NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

Hot and Not
By Judd Hall

The opening month of the NHL season is practically in the books and we’re already seeing a defined line between the good, bad and ugly. Some teams have built up a lot of confidence with a solid start to the year, while others are sucking wind.

Looking at those hot squads can help us press when at the sportsbooks. And we’ve got a couple teams to fade all the live long day.

Fire on Ice…

This might sound like a broken record, but the Rangers are the best team in the Eastern Conference right now. New York made every effort to be geared towards attacking the net than ever before. This gameplan has worked well for the Blueshirts as they’re second in the NHL in team scoring with 33 goals thus far.

A big reason for New York’s success is how well Nikolai Zherdev has performed in his first campaign in New York. The young winger is second on the club with four goals this year and he’s pulled in five points in his past three appearances on the ice. Zherdev was paired up on a line with Chris Drury and Markus Naslund on Oct. 24 at Columbus, which yielded three points (one goal, two helpers) in the Rangers’ victory.
   
Much has been made about the Blueshirts’ newfound offensive panache, but they still get it done with quality stopping power in a completely new way. Last season, they were third in the league with 25.9 shots on goal allowed. Now the Rangers give up 27 shots on goal this year. That kind of discrepancy is easy to overcome when you have a netminder like Henrik Lundqvist stopping shots. The yearly Vezina Trophy candidate has a goals against average of 1.99, while stopping 92.7 percent of the shots fired his way.

Lundqvist can’t do it all on his own though, especially when he has to play against a power play. Luckily for him, the Rangers are great special teams defenders as evidenced by a penalty kill percentage of 91.7 and they’ve not given up a power play goal in three games (12 for 12).

New York’s schedule is set up for it to continue winning. The Thrashers will be coming to Gotham on Oct. 30 after getting owned at home by a Philly team that just lost its biggest star. After that the Blueshirts make a run up North for a battle with the Maple Leafs on Nov. 1, who are playing some scrappy hockey. Then the Rangers come back home for matches against the lowly Islanders (Nov. 4) and a Lightning side (Nov. 6) that is trying to find some chemistry.

Midwestern Blues…

Winters are cold enough in the Midwest, but the Blue Jackets are proving that even hockey clubs can reach absolute zero. Columbus has tried to mold its image around winger Rick Nash, but have yet to find a pivot worthy of dishing the puck to the superstar in the making to make that actually happen. While the Jackets are scoring at a decent clip this year (24 lamp lighters), they have yet to learn a thing or two about holding a lead.

Columbus has had two of its past three games give perfect examples of its inability to hold down a lead. The Blue Jackets held a 1-0 lead over the Rangers on Oct. 24after one period of play, but wound up losing 3-1. Then on Oct. 27 at home against Anaheim, they took a 2-1 lead into the final period only to fall 3-2.

Those outcomes are typical to fans of the Blue Jackets as they’ve gone 3-2 this year when leading after the first period. Leads after two periods have been protected a little better with Columbus posting a 2-1 mark, the lone defeat coming the aforementioned Ducks.

The Jackets also have problems in coming back in matches this season. For instance, they have failed to win a game this year (0-3) when trailing after the opening 20 minutes. And they’re not much better when falling behind after two periods with just one victory in six matches where that occurred.

Things don’t appear to get easier for Ken Hitchcock’s squad anytime soon. The Blue Jackets make a trip to Colorado on Oct. 30 to face a much more confident Peter Budaj in goal. Then they come back home to square off with the Blackhawks (Nov. 1), who are 2-1-2 since Joel Quenneville took over behind the bench. They should be able to pull out a road win against the Islanders on Nov. 3 as they’re 1-4 at Nassau Coliseum this year.

VegasInsider.com

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NHL betting breakdowns
COVERS.com

Tampa Bay at Buffalo (-175, 5.5)

The Buffalo Sabres would like to forget their last outing, as they had one of their worst performances of the season. Fortunately, they should be able to bounce back against their next opponent.

The Northeast Division leaders look to continue their dominance over the Tampa Bay Lightning when they meet on Thursday night at HSBC Arena.

Ryan Miller was given the night off on Monday, but is expected to be back in goal against one of his favorite opponents. Miller, who is 5-0-1 with a 1.60 goals-against average this season, has been in net for each of the Sabres' games against the Lightning (2-3-3) since 2005-06.

Miller has gone 11-1-0 with a 2.47 GAA in those contests, and has led Buffalo to victory in each of the last five meetings The Sabres have outscored Tampa Bay 54-30 in those 12 games.

Tampa Bay defeated Toronto 3-2 on Tuesday, and has won two of its last three games after losing five straight to start the season.

Goaltender Mike Smith would like to see Lecavalier and the rest of the Lightning offense break out of their scoring rut. Smith has been solid in net, going 2-2-2 with a 2.11 GAA in 2007-08, but hasn't had much help from his offense, which is last in the NHL with 14 goals scored.


Atlanta at NY Rangers (-230, 5.5)

Having tied the best 12-game start in franchise history and with the highest point total in the NHL, the New York Rangers look to keep their roll going when they face a team that's tied for the fewest points in the league.

The Rangers try for their fourth straight victory when they host the Atlanta Thrashers, losers of four in a row, Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

While the Rangers have jumped to the top of the NHL, the Thrashers (2-5-2) find themselves at the bottom. Atlanta was pounded 7-0 at home by Philadelphia on Tuesday night and is tied for the fewest points in the league with six.

The Thrashers lost the last two meetings with the Rangers last season, but took the season series 2-1-1 and had won five in a row over New York prior to the defeats.


NY Islanders at Philadelphia

After struggling to stop opponents from scoring in the early part of the season, the Philadelphia Flyers have shored up their defense. That's not good news for the offensively inept New York Islanders.

Philadelphia tries to extend its winning streak to four games and hand visiting New York its fifth straight loss when the Atlantic Division rivals meet for the first time this season on Thursday.

The Flyers have won three straight, outscoring opponents 16-5 to improve to 3-3-3. They set a season high in goals and recorded their first shutout of 2008-09 on Tuesday in a 7-0 victory at Atlanta.

The Islanders are near the bottom of the NHL with 19 goals and own the fewest points in the league. They suffered their fourth straight loss on Monday night, 4-2 to the division-leading New York Rangers.

The Islanders again played without goaltender Rick DiPietro, who sat out with a lower body injury. DiPietro had surgery on his knee and hip during the offseason and has appeared in only three games thus far, going 0-2-0 with a 3.91 goals-against average.

Philadelphia won seven of the eight meetings between these teams in 2007-08, including all four at home. The Islanders were outscored 14-5 at the Wachovia Center and 30-16 overall in the season series.


Ottawa at Florida (-105, 5.5)

The Ottawa Senators are coming off one of their best performances of the early season. Their next challenge will be to put together a similar effort for a second consecutive game as their road trip continues on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers.

The Senators (3-5-1) are in last place in the Northeast Division, but improved to 1-1-0 on their four-game road swing with a 5-2 victory at Buffalo on Monday. Jason Spezza had two goals and an assist in a three-goal second period for Ottawa, which snapped a four-game losing streak and now will try to win back-to-back games for the first time in 2008-09.

The Senators will start Alex Auld for the fourth consecutive game as No. 1 goaltender Martin Gerber continues to recover from a leg injury. Auld - originally drafted by the Panthers in the second round of the 1999 draft - played 27 games with them in 2006-07, but holds no grudges against the team that selected him heading into this contest.

Auld is 1-0-1 with a tie and a 1.20 goals-against average lifetime against the Panthers.

Florida (4-4-0) may be coming off its worst performance thus far, a 4-0 loss at St. Louis on Saturday, coming out flat for its fourth game in a five-day span and getting outshot 31-17 while conceding a pair of power-play goals.

In the first meeting between the teams, Craig Anderson made 26 of his 41 saves in the third period to make goals by Rostislav Olesz and Nathan Horton in a 48-second span of the first period stand in a 3-1 win at Ottawa on Oct. 22.

The Senators, who wrap up their trip on Friday at Tampa Bay, have won 11 of their last 13 games at Florida.


Edmonton at Nashville (-130, 5.5)

The Edmonton Oilers' fast start has been all but completely erased by a four-game losing streak. Opening a grueling seven-game road trip against the Nashville Predators - a team they haven't beaten in nearly three years - won't offer any easy solutions, either.

The struggling Oilers hope to rediscover their scoring touch and end a five-game skid in Nashville on Thursday night at Sommet Center.

Thursday's game starts a trip that has the Oilers playing seven games in 12 days, capped by a contest against the New York Rangers on Nov. 10.

If overcoming a dormant offense doesn't present enough of a challenge, Edmonton also will be trying to end an eight-game losing streak against the Predators (4-4-1). The Oilers haven't beaten Nashville since March 5, 2006.

MacTavish has a decision to make on his starting goaltender for Thursday. Mathieu Garon allowed six goals in his first three starts before giving up 10 in his last two games. Roloson, meanwhile, has stopped 66 of 70 shots in his two appearances.

Neither has had much success against Nashville (4-4-0). Roloson is 2-5-0 with one tie and a 2.64 goals-against average while Garon is 2-5-0 with a 4.20 GAA.

Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Predators, whose 32 goals are among the league's highest totals. While Nashville has scored at least three goals in eight straight games, it has also allowed at least three in the past six contests.

Dan Ellis has had a rough start to the season, going 4-4-1 with a 3.28 GAA, but is 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA in four career starts against the Oilers.


Montreal at Minnesota (105, 5.5)

The Minnesota Wild will look to rebound from their first regulation loss on Thursday night when they face a team that already has - the Montreal Canadiens.

The Wild (6-1-1) suffered a 4-2 loss Wednesday at Dallas as the normally steady Niklas Backstrom faltered and gave up three goals in the first 16 minutes.

The Canadiens (6-1-1) bounced back from their first loss in regulation with a 3-2 shootout victory over Carolina on Tuesday. Montreal hadn't beaten the Hurricanes at home since 2004 and had lost nine straight to Carolina at the Bell Centre in that time, including three games in the 2005-06 playoffs.

Saku Koivu will go head-to-head with younger brother Mikko of the Wild on Thursday for the third time in an NHL game. Saku has two assists in the two previous meetings while Mikko is scoreless in those contests.

Montreal hasn't faced the Wild since a 4-2 home win on Nov. 22, 2006 in which Kovalev had a goal and an assist. The teams have played seven times since 2000, with the Canadiens holding a 3-2-1 advantage with one tie.


Carolina at St. Louis (-125, 5.5)

After losing starting goalies in consecutive games this past weekend, the biggest goal for the St. Louis Blues might be to keep their starter healthy through Thursday's game against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

Prior to Friday's game with Los Angeles, Manny Legace slipped on the carpet intended for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who dropped the ceremonial first puck.

The Blues (5-3-0) had also lost regular backup Chris Mason to an appendectomy a week earlier. Mason returned to the ice for a Sunday workout, practiced Monday and could start Thursday. Mason has faced the Hurricanes once, making 31 saves in a 1-0 victory last season while with Nashville.

While the Blues are 3-2-0 on a season-high seven-game homestand, Carolina will end a six-game road trip, its longest of the season.

The Hurricanes (4-2-2) have gone 2-1-2 on the trip, including a 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday to Montreal. Matt Cullen scored the tying goal 40 seconds into the third period for Carolina, which failed to get any of its three shootout attempts past Carey Price.

In last season's only meeting, Legace stopped 27 shots and Lee Stempniak scored the game's only goal in a 1-0 win for St. Louis. The Hurricanes and Blues have played five times since 2001 with the Blues holding a 3-2 advantage.


Columbus at Colorado (-175, 5.5)

The Colorado Avalanche's high-powered offense finally ran out of goals in their last game, also bringing an end to the club's five-game winning streak.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, meanwhile, can only hope the end to their own - more ignominious - streak isn't far off.

The Avalanche will look to reignite their attack Thursday night when they host last-place Columbus, which hasn't scored a power-play goal during its current three-game losing streak.

After starting the season with three straight losses, Colorado (5-4-0) responded by reeling off five straight victories, scoring four or more goals four times over that span thanks to major contributions from youngster Paul Stastny, veteran Milan Hejduk and captain Joe Sakic.

That run ended Tuesday, when the Avs managed only two third-period shots in a 3-0 loss at Calgary.

But the struggles go back even further for the Blue Jackets (3-6-0), who have scored four total goals during their three-game slide, falling into the Central Division cellar. They're 0-for-14 on the power play over that span, and they've scored two or fewer goals in five of their six losses.

Norrena will likely remain in net, with starter Pascal Leclaire on injured reserve due to a sprained ankle. Norrena has only made two starts this season, but he is already 0-3-0 with a 3.55 goals-against average. He's been much better against the Avs, going 3-2 with a 1.86 GAA in five career appearances.

Colorado will also have a backup in net, as coach Tony Granato will give Andrew Raycroft his third start of the season and his first in 12 days. Raycroft has a 3.01 GAA this season, but he's won both of his outings, beating Philadelphia and Dallas.

The teams split four meetings last season, with the home team winning each time and the Avs outscoring Columbus 8-2 in two wins at the Pepsi Center.


Boston at Calgary (-145, 5.5)

Tim Thomas is so hot right now, the Boston Bruins don't need to score much to win.

Against Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, they might not be able to score much.

Thomas looks to continue his shutout streak, help the Bruins complete a perfect three-game road trip and win their fourth straight overall Thursday night when they meet Kiprusoff and a surging Flames club seeking its fifth consecutive win.

Against Kiprusoff and the Flames (5-3-1), it could be 1-0 again. Kiprusoff has limited opponents to five goals during Calgary's four-game winning streak, and made 22 saves in Tuesday's 3-0 victory over Colorado. It was the first shutout of the season for Kiprusoff, the 27th of his career and his 150th NHL win.

Kiprusoff recorded a shutout the last time the Bruins visited Calgary, stopping 26 shots in a 3-0 win Dec. 17, 2005. He lost 3-2 at Boston on Oct. 19, 2006 - the teams' most recent meeting.

The Bruins are seeking their first victory at Calgary in more than a decade. They are 0-3-0 with one tie in four visits to Pengrowth Saddledome since a 3-0 win on Oct. 18, 1997.


Pittsburgh at Phoenix (-115, 5.5)

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien teamed Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together two weeks ago after deciding he needed more production from his top offensive unit.

Now that they're not getting enough from their other three lines, Crosby and Malkin are being split up again.

Two of the NHL's top young stars will be centering different units on Thursday at Jobing.com Arena, where the Penguins will try to bounce back from a futile offensive effort when they face the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Penguins will run into another team that's having trouble scoring on Thursday. Phoenix (3-4-0) posted seven goals while winning its first two games, but has scored just eight while losing four of its past five.

The Coyotes' struggles continued on Saturday. They were outshot 36-24 and lost 4-1 to Calgary, failing to score on the power play for the fourth straight game.

Ilya Bryzgalov will get the nod in goal after Mikael Tellqvist started the past two games. Bryzgalov is 2-3-0 with a 3.41 goals-against average.

Marc-Andre Fleury is expected back in net for Pittsburgh after Dany Sabourin started against San Jose. Fleury is 4-2-2 with a 2.17 GAA.

The Penguins have won their last three against Phoenix, including a 3-1 victory at Mellon Arena last season.


Vancouver at Los Angeles (-110, 5.5)

Home had been the Vancouver Canucks' refuge early this season, but after Tuesday night's game at GM Place, the result was the same as their previous three on the road - a loss.

The Canucks look to end their recent road woes on Thursday night at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Kings.

Despite scoring 2.67 goals per game while going 2-4-0 during a recent six-game road trip, the Canucks had outscored opponents 12-3 in their first two home games. However, on Tuesday against Boston, Vancouver lost 1-0 as Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots for his second consecutive shutout overall and second in as many career starts against the Canucks.

Roberto Luongo allowed a first-period goal to Michael Ryder, and finished with 29 saves against Boston. Luongo - who has a 3.00 GAA in eight starts this season - has given up just five goals while winning his last three games in Los Angeles.

Playing the opener of a season-high seven-game homestand, the Kings (3-4-1) fell 4-3 in a shootout to Detroit. The defending Stanley Cup champions tied the game with 1:54 left as Valtteri Filppula snapped a shot past Jason LaBarbera off a misplaced clearing pass from Denis Gauthier.

Ryan Kesler, who leads the Canucks with six assists and nine points this season, scored the game-winner in the last meeting as visiting Vancouver posted a 2-1 overtime victory on March 10. The Canucks have won six of their past nine in Los Angeles.


Detroit at San Jose (-150, 5.5)

When the Sharks hired Todd McLellan for his first NHL head coaching job, they knew they were getting someone with Stanley Cup credentials who would put an emphasis on offense.

Some recent success on defense has been an added bonus, helping propel San Jose to its best start ever.

McLellan will face his former team for the first time on Thursday night when the Sharks welcome the defending Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

With a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Pacific Division-leading San Jose (8-2-0) is off to the best start in franchise history. Though he stresses offense, McLellan has had the Sharks focus more on defense since giving up 10 goals in a shootout win over Philadelphia and a loss to Florida last week.

Evgeni Nabokov is expected to start in goal for the Sharks, but is 0-3-0 with a 6.35 goals-against average in his last four home starts versus Detroit.

San Jose is 5-0-0 at home, and 6-0-0 overall when allowing two goals or less. In 2007-08, though, the Sharks dropped three of four to the Red Wings, allowing 15 goals in the defeats.

Detroit (7-1-2) played its third straight game past regulation on Wednesday, but lost for the first time. Chris Osgood allowed Francois Beauchemin's goal 1:39 into overtime of a 5-4 defeat decided after a brief video review.

Zetterberg has seven goals and three assists, all coming in his current seven-game points streak. Hossa, the Wings' scoring leader with 14 points, has five goals and eight assists during an eight-game run.

Both will be looking to extend personal runs against San Jose. Zetterberg has five goals and six assists in his last six games versus the Sharks, including four consecutive multi-point contests.

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Re: NHL News and Notes Thursday, October 30

NHL Forecast for Oct 30th
by Ron Raymond

Atlanta vs. NY Rangers

Trust me, I've been trying to find the 4th corner of this jigsaw puzzle myself and I'm having a hard time typing this comment out! However, of all the three seven o'clock games to put first on the rotation; why did the bookmakers put this one? Trap game? I think so, big letdown factor for the Rangers 4-2 win over their inter-state division rivals the Islanders and let's face it, the Thrashers are coming off a 7-0 lost to the Flyers, so who's really giving them a shot here? Rangers are coming down in class here and what better way to get traded off a bad hockey team they to play well in front of Glenn Sather and the NY Media.

Prediction: Atlanta 3 NY Rangers 2


NY Islanders vs. Philadelphia

I look at this Islanders line up and I just don't see secondary scoring and you can't depend on old veterans like Weight and Guerin anymore in this young kids league who are flying by these older veterans. Goaltending is an issue and they have an AHL defense at best. Flyers are now 3-0 without Briere.

Prediction: Philadelphia 4 NY Islanders 2


Tampa Bay vs. Buffalo

Big letdown game for the Lightning, as they put all their energy and focus on beating Toronto on Tuesday, they might have burned out their top line. Tampa Better get some secondary scoring, because Melrose is going to burn out his top line and his goalie can't continue to face over 40 shots a game. Look for Buffalo to rebound after their fatigue game vs. Ottawa. Buffalo had no legs or energy vs. Ottawa and they've been the recipient of a bad schedule to start the season. Close game, but the Sabres pull it out in the third period.

Prediction: Buffalo 4 Tampa Bay 3


Ottawa vs. Florida

The Panthers beat Ottawa 3-1 last week in Ottawa; their goaltender Anderson was outstanding, so why start Vokoun tonight? Sens are 11-4 SU in their last 15 trips to Miami and it looks like Spezza is rolling!

Prediction: Ottawa 3 Florida 1


Montreal vs. Minnesota

As predicted yesterday, the Wild had their minds on the Habs tonight and Montreal is starting to look like a team with the Century year pressure! Montreal needed a penalty shot and a shootout to be the Canes on Monday and looked rusty vs. Anaheim on Saturday. Plus, the players know their coaches (Lemaire and Tremblay) always want to beat Montreal.


Prediction: Minnesota 3 Montreal 2


Edmonton vs. Nashville

Roloson was outstanding in the Oilers 1-0 lost to the Bruins on Tuesday, so look for him to play well again tonight, as he's playing for a trade out of Edmonton these days.

Prediction: Edmonton 4 Nashville 3


Carolina vs. St.Louis

When you have a hot goalie, you ride him out! Cam Ward has been keeping his team in games and they are off tough lost over Montreal. St.Louis has been off 4 days, so they could come out rusty and they are starting their 3rd or 4th starter in Mason.

Prediction: Carolina 4 St.Louis 2


Boston vs. Calgary

Julien going to ride his hot goaltender out and how can you blame him? Thomas is coming off two 1-0 shutout wins, but here's the bad news, Kiprusoff is coming off his own 3-0 shutout. The Flames are 4-1-1 vs. the Bruins since '97 and this is Boston's 3rd game in 4 nights.


Prediction: Calgary 3 Boston 2


Columbus vs. Colorado

Andrew Raycroft is expected to get the nod tonight for the Avalanche and he's 2-0 in his spot starts this season. The Blue Jackets are 1-13 SU vs. Colorado at the Pepsi Center since entering the league. Not a good spot for Hitch's boys.

Prediction: Colorado 5 Columbus 2


Pittsburgh vs. Phoenix

The difference in this game might be defense. When I've reviewing each team's line ups, the one thing that stands out is the Coyotes are a bit deeper at the Blue line then the Pens. Pittsburgh is 2-5-2 SU vs. the Coyotes in Phoenix and they are getting a rested up Coyotes team tonight, as they haven't played in 4 days. Rust could be a factor at the beginning, but it seems when they score, they score in bunches. Not a good betting spot for the Penguins here; they are 3-12-1 SU as a Road Underdog - Vs Non Conference Opponent - Coming off a Road loss as a Underdog and scored 1 or less goals FOR in their last game.

Prediction: Phoenix 4 Pittsburgh 3


Detroit vs. San Jose

The Red Wings have played too much hockey of late and this is their 3rd game in 4 nights. Conklin is the penciled starter tonight for Detroit and San Jose is 18-4-1 (SU) since 1998 as Home Favorite - Total is 5.5 on 1 days rest and they are coming off a Home win as a Favorite.

Prediction: San Jose 3 Detroit 2


Vancouver vs. LA Kings

Luongo has looked like a regular goalie thus far this season and you have to start wondering if wearing the C is too much for the ex-Val D'Or Foreur (Jr. Team) net minder? The Kings have really impressed me this season, I didn't think they would be this competitive, but if they can find a way to pepper more shots on goal, they could make it interesting down the stretch. The Kings are 7-4-1 (SU) Home Underdog, before a conference game on 2 days rest.

Prediction: LA Kings 4 Vancouver 3

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