All-Star Game Preview
All-Star Game Preview
All-Star Game Preview
By Judd Hall
The midway point of the NHL season is finally here, meaning the league’s best and brightest players will take to the ice in the 2009 All-Star Game. This year’s edition will take on a special meaning as the contest is taking place at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec as the Canadiens are celebrating their 100th anniversary.
While many fans will expect to see some quality hockey in this matchup, VegasInsider.com expert handicapper Scott Rickenbach can’t seem to find any angles for bettors to take advantage. “This game is too tough to gauge because the goalies really are hung out to dry.”
“So much of how well a goalie performs in regular game action has to do with how his defense is playing in front of him and there is very little defense played in these games,” says Rickenbach. “It makes it tough to call a side and, of course, the total posted is usually well into the stratosphere.”
Rickenbach was right on with the total as Las Vegas Sports Consultants have made it 16 ½ for the 57th All-Star Game.
It’s no secret that goalies are merely window dressing when it comes to this mid-winter spectacle. Yet we could see a pair of starting netminders use this appearance as a spring board for the rest of the year. Montreal’s Carey Price will start between the pipes for the Eastern Conference thanks to a zealous hometown fan base. But he’s had back problems all month long, forcing him into starting just twice in January. Price lost both matches with a goals against average of 3.13.
Price could get a quick jump in his confidence at the start of the tilt against a starting lineup from the West that doesn’t exactly jump out. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf is playing fantastic hockey right now by scoring 14 points this month. Although his first-line mates from Chicago, Patrick Kane (one point in January) and Jonathan Toews (four goals, four assists, minus-two rating in last two games), could hamper the Ducks’ pivot.
As far as the reserves go for the West, the offense hasn’t’ came easy in the recent past. The majority of them logging just one goal. Although the Kings’ forward Dustin Brown has score three goals his last three games this year, while Columbus’ Rick Nash has registered three goals and seven assists in just six appearances this month.
The Western Conference sends out the Ducks’ Jean-Sebastien Giguere to fend off shots. He’s having an off year, by his standards. And the East All-Stars will get to see him at arguably his worst moment after losing three straight games with a pudgy 4.09 GAA. Giguere’s last outing he was pulled after giving up two goals in 15 to the Islanders…THE ISLANDERS!
Giguere’s recent poor performances could put the West in an early hole against some of the most potent offensive players in the game today. Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin has already scored 19 goals this season. But he’s finding the back of the net a lot right now as evidenced by lighting the lamp four times in as many games. Malkin won’t be getting any help from Sidney Crosby, who has withdrawn from the game due to injury concerns. Crosby’s departure opens a spot for the Lightning’s Martin St. Louis.
The Pens’ duo isn’t the only scoring powers for the East. You’ve got Dany Heatley (five goals, one assist in last four games) representing the Senators. New Jersey’s Zach Parise has been hot as of late by visiting the red light district six times in his last seven appearances. And you can’t forget about the always explosive Alex Ovechkin from the Capitals. Alex the Great has four goals and a helper in his last four matches.
Bettors not used to wagering on hockey games might think that the total for this match is high. You much realize that they have averaged 15.2 goals per game since the NHL switched to East-West format for the 1994-95 season. It also includes when they did the North America versus the world setup that went from 1998 to 2002.
When looking at the conference format for our wagering needs, the Eastern Conference has been the play by going 5-2 straight up.
Montreal native Marc Joanette has been tabbed as one of the two referees for this year’s contest. And if his record is any indicator, we should expect the East to be victorious as home teams are 24-12-7 in the 43 matches Joanette has officiated this season. The ‘over’ has gone 22-18-3 in those games as well.
Joanette will be paired up with Brad Meier, who has seen the home club go 23-11-7 in his 41 appearances this year.
You’ll be able to catch this game on Versus at 6:00 p.m. EST.
Re: All-Star Game Preview
What bettors need to know: NHL All-Star game
By DUSTIN NIELSON
East (-140) vs. West (+130)
For the second year in a row one of the game’s brightest stars will miss the NHL All-Star game. Sidney Crosby will be sidelined with a knee injury. Last year Crosby missed the exhibition with a high ankle sprain. Martin St. Louis will take his place in the line up.
Not a single member of the defending Stanley Cup Champions will take part in the All-Star Game. Niklas Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk were both named to the Western Conference team but opted to skip the event. Detroit will be the only team not represented in the showcase.
Star players have skipped the All-Star game too many times in recent years and the NHL has finally decided to take action with one-game suspensions.
''We've all got obligations to the fans, the rights holders - this game is being televised around the world,'' said Vice-President Colin Campbell.
Lidstrom and Datsyuk will have to sit out a Red Wings game next week as punishment for skipping the All-Star festivities. In order to avoid a one-game suspension Sidney Crosby will take part in off-ice events.
HOMETOWN HABS A PLENTY
The Montreal Canadiens will be well represented in their home barn with four players voted in as starters. Carey Price will start in goal for the East while Alex Kovalev will captain the team.
“It's wonderful to know that your fans respect your skill and the way you play. They see how much hard work you put in to make your team better,” said Kovalev.
Andre Markov and Mike Komisarek will patrol the blue line.
The Vincent Lecavalier to Montreal rumors might steal the spotlight this weekend. Hundreds of fans greeted Lecavalier at the Montreal airport.
"I've always loved the Montreal Canadiens. It's a great organization, it's a great town. My family's from here, I've got a lot of friends here,” Lecavalier said to well over 50 members of the media. Look for Vinny to have a big game in his hometown.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
The over-under on the All-Star game has been set at 16.5. In the last 10 years the two teams have combined for more than 16 goals only twice. The somewhat low scoring All-Star games have nothing to do with a lack of skill from the skaters; the goalies are just too good. Roberto Luongo, J.S. Giguere and Nicklas Backstrom will backstop the West. Carey Price, Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist represent the East. Once again you have to think goalies have a good shot at keeping things under 17.
BEASTS OF THE EAST
The Eastern Conference comes into the game as the defending champs. The East also holds home ice advantage and has seven 20 goals scorers in the line up. Patrick Marleau, Datsyuk’s replacement, is the only 20 goal weapon for the Western Conference. The East may also have an advantage on the backend with shutdown man extraordinaire Mike Komisarek making his All-Star debut. Komisarek only has five points this season but will most likely lead the game in unexpected body checks.