This week's NHL betting notes

This week's NHL betting notes

This week's NHL betting notes
By DOC'S SPORTS

Another Setback for Luongo

A few weeks ago we talked about the potential impact of Roberto Luongo's injury on the Vancouver Canucks. It was important because there arguably isn't a team in the league that relies on a single player more than Vancouver does on Luongo.

The goalie was 11-5-2 for the Canucks. Since he has been gone the team has dropped to 4-5-1. It initially looked as if the end of the downturn was near - Luongo returned to practice on Wednesday and looked and felt like he was about ready to return. That practice session lasted just 20 minutes, though.

The groin wasn't feeling right and Luongo's return has been delayed. Neither the team nor the player is talking about how long it might take, but neither is giving the impression that we will see him back in the nets any time soon.

Backups stealing jobs

Craig Anderson in Florida is one of several examples of backup goalies becoming the No. 1 netminder for their clubs this year. Anderson took over for Tomas Vokoun, who was brought in from Nashville last year to start for the team and he didn't come cheap - $5.5 million a year.

That's an expensive bench warmer.

Anderson is 5-2-2 in the starting role so far. Given that the team is just 14-13-3 that's a solid accomplishment. Even more impressive, four of the five wins have been on the road and the Panthers have been significant underdogs in each win.

Alex Auld is more secure in his newly acquired starting job in Ottawa. Martin Gerber was the No. 1 coming into the season. After starting five of the first six games, though, he has started just three of the last 22. It's no surprise - Gerber is just 3-6 and has lost four times as the favorite. Auld is 9-74

Shootouts

The Calgary Flames lost in a shootout to Florida on Friday night. That marked the first shootout for the Flames and they were the last team without one this season.

Phoenix is the only other team winless in shootouts this year and they Coyotes have had two tries. Detroit, Minnesota, San Jose and Atlanta have yet to lose.

By far the king of the gimmick finish is the Rangers. New York has had nine shootouts and has won eight of them. Last year's runaway shootout champs were the Oilers, with 15 wins in 19 tries.

Purists may not be the biggest fans of the shootout, but sports bettors should pay attention. Shootouts occur in 14.22 percent of all games this year - the highest rate of any of the four shootout seasons.

Quick oddities

There were a couple of odd streaks that came to an end this week:

Petr Sykora - Pittsburgh's Sykora had a hat trick on Thursday as his Penguins rolled over the Islanders 9-2. It was the first in his 13-year career.

Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs had the night off on Saturday night. No big deal - so did five other teams. This Saturday night, however, was the first time since March 16, 1996 since a regular season Saturday night has passed without the Leafs in action. Strangely, the same thing will happen twice more in just over a month - on Dec. 27 and Jan. 17.

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