Puck Daddy - NHL

 

(Ed. Note: This is actually a perfect post to announce that I'll be appearing at Blogs With Balls 2.0 in Las Vegas on Oct. 15, speaking on a panel about blogger access vs. mainstream media access for sports coverage. BWB is partnering with ESPN on some deep admission discounts, so do check them out. Hope to see some West Coast puckheads out there.)

It could be a peculiar point-spread on a college basketball game or tantalizing odds on a horse at the track. It could be an unlikely player scoring the first touchdown in the Super Bowl or an unlikely team winning the Stanley Cup. No matter the sport, anyone that's ever placed a bet has quietly asked his or herself the same question: What do the oddsmakers know that I don't know?

The Las Vegas Hilton sports book released its betting lines on the 2009-10 NHL regular season this week, and that included the over/under for projected point totals in the final standings. In looking at what the bookmakers believe are the top 16 teams in hockey, we're once again asking ourselves: What do they know that some of us don't?

From the Las Vegas Sun's Odds 'N' Ends column, which focuses on the lack of odds-maker enthusiasm about the Toronto Maple Leafs despite their offseason changes, a few words on hockey wagering:

Hockey bettors represent a loyal but small subset of Nevada sports gamblers. The Nevada Gaming Control Board tracks NHL betting in a category called "other" - encompassing all sports besides the big three of football, basketball and baseball.

Last year bettors in the state risked $131.5 million on those "other" sports including hockey, or about 5 percent of the $2.6 billion wagered in Nevada sports books.

The full list of all 30 NHL team point projections can be found on a sidebar to the article, but our focus here is on the teams that Las Vegas Hilton sports book oddsmakers feel will make the playoff cut. And here they are:

Eastern Conference

Team

2008-09 Points

2009-10 Points Projection

Washington Capitals

108

104.5

Philadelphia Flyers

99

102.5

Pittsburgh Penguins

99

102.5

Boston Bruins

116

101.5

New Jersey Devils

106

96.5

Carolina Hurricanes

97

94.5

Montreal Canadiens

93

93.5

Buffalo Sabres (tie)

New York Rangers (tie)

91

95

91.5

91.5

Does Vegas still like the Devils based on repuation or reality? Will it be the Sabres and Rangers for the final berth? Shine up the President's Trophy for Ovechkin? Not so fast ...

Western Conference

Team

2008-09 Points

2009-10 Points Projection

San Jose Sharks

117

107.5

Detroit Red Wings

112

106.5

Chicago Blackhawks

104

105.5

Anaheim Ducks

91

96.5

Calgary Flames

98

96.5

Vancouver Canucks

100

96.5

St. Louis Blues

92

91.5

Dallas Stars (tie)

Edmonton Oilers (tie)

83

85

89.5

89.5

The surprise here is that the Columbus Blue Jackets (86.5) are not only picked to finish out of the money, but behind the new-look Minnesota Wild (88.5) and even with the Los Angeles Kings (86.5) in the West. Guess Steve Mason(notes) still has to prove he's a money goaltender.

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