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This Week's Best NHL Bets

This Week's Best NHL Bets

This Week's Best NHL Bets

Every week, we update you on who's hot, who's not and situational betting spots in the National Hockey League.

For the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2

Hot team

Calgary Flames (3-0 SU)

Flames fans can't be blamed for wondering if their team would ever end up on this list. But a perfect five-game home stand has Calgary going into the first full week of February as the hottest team in the league. The Flames wrapped up the unbeaten home stretch with a 5-4 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, a 4-1 triumph over the San Jose Sharks and a 4-3 OT decision over the Minnesota Wild. Goal-starved Calgary scored 21 goals in the five victories and will try to carry that momentum into the start of a three-game road trip in Montreal Tuesday.

Cold team

New York Islanders (0-3 SU)

Every time the Islanders appear to be making positive strides, they hit a rough stretch, and last week was no different. The New York offense managed just five combined goals in a loss to the Boston Bruins and back-to-back defeats at the hands of the rival New York Rangers, extending the club's overall losing streak to five games. The final three games before the Olympic break offer little hope of a bounceback, as the Islanders visit high-scoring Washington before hosting red-hot Calgary and powerhouse Colorado.

Best Over play

Washington Capitals (4-0 O/U)

Watching the Capitals certainly hasn't been dull. At least, not over the past seven days. After playing four straight Unders, Washington became the top Over play of the week, recording a 5-4 overtime win over the Buffalo Sabres and a 6-5 OT triumph over the Detroit Red Wings bookending a 5-2 loss to Columbus and a 4-3 shootout loss to Detroit in the opener of their back-to-back. Superstar winger Alex Ovechkin remains one of the most dangerous players in hockey, leading the league with 40 goals and making the Capitals an Over threat each time out.

Best Under play

Montreal Canadiens (0-3-1 O/U)

Montreal has returned to form after playing three straight Overs earlier in the month, going 0-4-2 O/U in its last six games. While that's partially a reflection on the struggles of the Canadiens' offense, it's also a tremendous relief to fans of goaltender Carey Price, who struggled mightily at the beginning of January but has fared much better of late. Price earned the shutout in a 3-0 win over Carolina before dropping consecutive 2-1 decisions to Tampa Bay and Winnipeg. Backup Peter Budaj was also sharp in his only game of the week, a 4-1 triumph over Boston.

Surveying the schedule

The Winnipeg Jets have defied the naysayers, winning eight of their last 10 games to propel themselves into the conversation in the crowded Western Conference playoff standings. The next week will go a long way in determining whether the Jets, who have thrived under new head coach Paul Maurice, are a legitimate threat for a postseason berth or simply a team on a brief roll. Winnipeg faces a tough task in the final week before the break, playing road games in Carolina, Washington and St. Louis - teams that are a combined 49-24-11 at home.

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Re: This Week's Best NHL Bets

This Week's Best NHL Spot Bet Opportunities
By Sean Murphy

Spot bets are classic handicapping practices that have proven profitable no matter what sport you’re betting. Whether it’s a team looking past this week’s opponent, one coming off a hard-fought victory, or a rough patch of schedule, bettors can find value picking their spots.

Letdown spot

The Lightning are coming off a big overtime win in Montreal Saturday, snapping a two-game skid in the process. Next they'll head to Minnesota for a non-conference tilt against the Wild Tuesday night. I don't believe the spot sets up well at all for Tampa Bay.

Minnesota didn't enjoy a positive road trip, dropping three of four games, capped by an overtime loss in Calgary Saturday night. That's nothing new, as the Wild have struggled on the road all season. At home, they're 19-7-2, and I expect to see them improve on that mark Tuesday.

Lookahead spot

The Blackhawks will wrap up a six-game road jaunt in Phoenix Friday, and could be ripe for the picking against a Coyotes squad that has been playing better lately, and owns a solid 16-9-3 home record entering the new week.

Keep in mind, Chicago has a roster filled with players heading to Sochi to represent their respective countries. This will mark the Blackhawks final game before those key cogs make the trek to Russia. Don't be surprised if the defending champs get caught looking ahead to the Olympic tourney here.

Schedule spot

Now let's consider the flip side of that poor spot for Chicago. The Coyotes will pack up and head to Dallas for their pre-Olympic finale Saturday night, playing on no rest after going toe-to-toe with the Blackhawks. You could chalk this one up as a letdown spot as well.

Phoenix has been average at best on the road this season, and will be facing a rested Dallas team that hasn't played in three nights. The Stars have defeated the Wild, Leafs and Penguins on home ice in the last couple of weeks, and as a bubble team, will undoubtedly be looking to head into the break on a high note.

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Re: This Week's Best NHL Bets

Top 6: Teams Affected By The Winter Break

The NHL regular season goes into hibernation after this weekend as the best players in the world head to Sochi, Russia to take part in the 2014 Olympic tournament.

A handful of teams have to be thrilled at the prospect of putting the season on pause for a while. The combination of injuries and poor play has left some clubs in shambles as they sputter toward the final pre-break weekend. Conversely, several teams will be sad to see their momentum halted by the hiatus.

Here are three teams happy to have the time off, along with three that would rather play on:

Cold Teams

Los Angeles Kings

The 2012 Stanley Cup champions may want to use the two weeks off to search for their missing offense. Los Angeles heads into Thursday's action in utter disarray, having scored just six goals in its previous seven games. The lengthy dry spell has dropped the Kings to second-last in the NHL in average offense (2.2 goals per game), as several of their big guns have misfired mightily since the beginning of the new year. Los Angeles entertains Columbus on Thursday.

New York Islanders

The Islanders may have finally run out of gas after showing glimpses of brilliance for most of the season. The offense bottomed out in 2-1 and 4-1 losses to the rival Rangers while the defense and goaltending have been disappointingly porous of late, surrendering 21 goals over the course of their five-game losing streak. Things won't get any easier for New York in its final stretch prior to the break, with a game in Washington followed by home dates against the red-hot Calgary Flames and dangerous Colorado Avalanche.

Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens fans find themselves in a quandary as they prepare for the regular season to shut down. Their team has stumbled to a 6-8-3 mark since late-December, but one of the culprits behind the team's struggles - netminder Carey Price - probably isn't going to get any time to rest. Price has been tabbed as one of Team Canada's three netminders and should draw at least one starting assignment in Russia. The Canadiens have a busy final week ahead, hosting the Flames and Vancouver Canucks before facing the surging Carolina Hurricanes.

Hot Teams

Calgary Flames

It's just the Flames' luck that they enjoy their hottest stretch of the season just as the calendar shifts to Olympic time. The Flames are riding a five-game winning streak coming into the week and, while it may not be enough to move them back into the playoff picture, it should help the confidence level of a roster featuring a number of young impact players. The perfect homestand included impressive victories over west powers Chicago and San Jose, providing plenty of momentum heading into this week's trip through Montreal, Long Island and Philadelphia.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto has been one of the NHL's hottest teams since mid-January, earning wins in nine of its last 11 contests - including a perfect three-game homestand in which the Maple Leafs eked past Tampa Bay before defeating Florida and Ottawa by identical 6-3 scores. The offense has been rolling along at its best pace of the season, scoring at least three goals in nine of the past 10 games to take plenty of pressure off the defense and goaltending. The Maple Leafs wrap up their pre-Olympic schedule with games in Florida and Tampa and a home game against Vancouver.

Winnipeg Jets

Continuing the theme of Canadian teams playing well as the Olympic hiatus approaches, the Jets have been one of the league's most pleasant surprises since switching head coaches. Paul Maurice has lit a fire under the Winnipeg players, taking over for the departed Claude Noel and leading the Jets to an 8-2-0 record in his tenure. Winnipeg is excelling at both ends of the ice and has wins over Anaheim and Chicago to its credit over that stretch. The Jets' pre-break schedule features road games in Carolina, Washington and St. Louis.

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