Feb 282006

Well, the NHL gets back in full swing tonight after a 15 day Olympic break. I think games are going to be pretty difficult to predict as we don’t really know how players are going to react either from the time off or the heavy olympic schedule. There could be a number of upsets as a result of it. For example, Detroit could be in a tough position with Lidstrom, Kronwall, Holmstrom, Zetterberg, and Samuelsson all playing in Italy on Sunday and San Jose tonight. To make matters worse, most of the Swedish players took a side trip to Stockholm for a bit of a celebration on Monday before returning to their teams. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the players who didn’t play in the Olympics and instead took vacations to some sunny location in the Carribean. They are definitely tanned, but the question is, are they rested or rusty? It could be a week or two before everyone settles back into a normal routine.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Islanders Montreal Montreal Some
Toronto Washington Toronto Strong
Tampa Bay Florida Tampa Bay Good
Colorado Minnesota Colorado Good
Calgary Vancouver Calgary Some
San Jose Detroit Detroit Some

Note: I am pretty busy with work these days so I am probably not going to have a lot of game specific commentary nor will I integrate betting lines or make bets on these games. Hopefully in a couple weeks work will slow down but it may not be until after the end of March.

Feb 222006

Well, team Canada lost in the quarterfinals to Russia and will go home from the Olympics without any medal. I am sure this is going to bring out all kinds of emotions from people all across Canada as people wonder what went wrong and where to lay blame. There are a number of reasons the teams lost. Here are my thoughts.

1. The injuries to Niedermayer and Jovanovski combined with Blake and Pronger playing with injuries really took a lot away from Canada’s game. Although goals against ultimately wasn’t a problem for Canada that was because of outstanding goaltending and not outstanding defensive play. More often than not the opposition won the battles in the corners and more often than that the Canadians looked confused in the transition game. A healthy defense would have benefitted significantly here.

2. Player selection. The player selection committee has to take some blame for this loss. I criticized the selection committee for taking Draper and Doan and you could have made a strong argument against Martin St. Louis being on the team as well. When I selected my Olympic team I suggested that one of the Tampa players should have been left off the team and St. Louis would have been the obvious choice. Certainly Eric Staal, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Marleau, Alex Tanguay or even Brendan Shanahan would have all contributed more offense than Doan, Draper and St. Louis.

3. Execution. Most of the blame though has to fall on the shoulders of the players who were almost always out skated, frequently out played physically and struggled to make good offensive plays. Gagne, Heatley, Iginla, Nash, Smyth, and others are all supremely talented players but none really looked all that good in the offensive zone. They just didn’t seem to know how to work together as a team and too often tried to do too much on their own. With all that talent there is no excuse for getting shutout in 11 of their final 12 periods of play.

Feb 212006

The olympic quarterfinals are now all set:

Switzerland vs Sweden
Finland vs United States
Russia vs Canada
Slovakia vs Czech Republic

Sweden will beat Switzerland and I think Finland should defeat the United States but the other two games are some solid rivalry games which will be quite interesting. I think Russia is actually a good draw for the Canadians. Although Russia has only given up 7 goals so far I think their defense and goaltending is a little weaker than some of the other teams and that should bode well for Canada and I think they will pull out a win. Slovakia at 5-0 is a bit of a surprise team so far. No one really expected them to be that good with Budaj, Lasak and Krizan in goal (if you said, never heard of any of them you are probably not alone). The Czech Republic is in the opposite position after having a dissapointing tournament so far and only made worse by the Dominik Hasek injury. Vokoun is a good goalie but he hasn’t played in a pressure situation like this and didn’t look that comfortable in today’s game against Canada. This could be a tough game for the Czech Republic and the Slovaks could upset their former other half of a country.

What do all of you think? Submit your comments and be sure to vote in the poll I just put up in the sidebar to the right.

Feb 142006

Well, the olympic break is now upon us and the olympic hockey tournament begins tomorrow. After some thought I have decided to use the olympic break as a bit of a blogging break as well and more importantly as an opportunity to catch up on some much needed ‘pay the bills’ work. I also hope to use some of the extra time to develop offense and defense rankings and maybe take a look at using these rank as a game prediction tool to see if theycan in some way improve on or complement the current game prediction algorithm I have. Hopefully before the olympic break ends I’ll get something posted about that.

In the mean time if anyone wants to post their predictions for the olympic hockey tournament, feel free to post your comments here. My thouhts are that it will come down to Canada, Czech Republic and possibly Sweden if Forsberg can get healthy for the medal rounds. I think these are the only three teams who have the quality and consistancy of goaltending to win a major tournament.

Current odds (as posted at Bowmans) to win the olympic gold are:

Canada -140
Czech Republic +275
Russia +350
Sweden +550
Slovakia +800
USA +900
Finland +1200
Switzerland +8500
Germany +10000
Latvia +10000
Italy +30000
Kazakhstan +35000

From those odds I’d say Czech Republic and Sweden provide excellent risk/reward bets and probably a better risk/reward ratio than Canada. As nice as it would be to win $35,000 on a $1 Kazakhstan bet, I just don’t think it is going to happen.

Feb 122006

This is the final day of NHL games before the Olympic break and after a 4 for 9 day yesterday hopefully we can end on a positive note by winning 5 or more of today’s 7 games. Yesterdays results have my betting balance at $99.20, just below the $100 mark I started with. I’m pretty dissapointed with that and really want to see it stay above the $100 point. Hopefully today’s game get us there.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Edmonton(-340) St. Louis(+270) Edmonton Strong
Los Angeles(+130) Dallas(-150) Dallas Some
Carolina(-170) Buffalo(+150) Carolina Some
Detroit(-185) Colorado(+165) Detroit Some
Phoenix(+150) San Jose(-170) San Jose Some
Anaheim(-300) Chicago(+240) Anaheim Good
Vancouver(-165) Minnesota(+145) Vancouver Some

Generally I can’t really dissagree with any of the predicted winners. All my predictions agree with the betting line favourites. But some of those betting lines are intriguing. Buffalo at +150, Colorado at +165 and St. Louis at +270 all could be interesting bets.

Feb 112006

Last night was a bit of an off night going just 3 for 8 but games like Pittsburgh upsetting Carolina isn’t something that many people are going to regularly predict. I also took a hit in the betting balance. My betting balance dropped to $117.03.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
New Jersey(-270) NY Islanders(+230) New Jersey Some
Los Angeles(-310) Chicago(+250) Los Angeles Strong
Toronto(-115) NY Rangers(-105) Toronto Some
Boston(-115) Tampa Bay(-105) Boston Some
Montreal(-155) Atlanta(+135) Montreal Good
Ottawa(-300) Philadelphia(+240) Ottawa Good
Washington(-225) Pittsburgh(+185) Washington Some
Buffalo(-245) Florida(+205) Buffalo Strong
Nashville(-270) Columbus(+230) Nashville Good

(Betting lines by Bowmans)

New Jersey should beat the Islanders and Buffalo should be Florida but those are the only obvious picks if you ask me.

Los Angeles/Chicago – A month ago this would be Los Angeles all the way but the Kings have been playing real poorly lately and have gone from battling with Dallas for the division lead to being just 2 points from being out of a playoff spot. At -310 odds, I do not like the Los Angeles bet. I think this game is much more even and could go either way.

Nashville/Columbus – This is another game in which I think the betting lines are a bit off. Columbus has been one of the better teams in the NHL the last month while Nashville has lost 6 of their last 8 games. Columbus did play last night which will certainly help Nashville’s chances but I am not sure that they deserve to be such heavy (-270) favourites.

Ottawa/Philadelphia – I am completely surprised at the odds for this game. Ottawa is 2-5 in their last 7 games with wins only over Pittsburgh. Philadelphia has struggled and are suffering some injuries but there is no reason why they should have such poor odds. Also, Philadelphia has beaten Ottawa in the 2 games they have played each other so far this season. I say take the good odds and bet on Philly.

Feb 102006

I’ve done a lot of complaining about the referees throughout the season so far but what I have seen tonight just blows me away. In the second period of the Leafs-Rangers game there was a penalty called on Darcy Tucker. Before the Leafs touched the puck again the Rangers took it down the ice into the Leafs zone and after a bit of play McCabe was able to touch the puck and the whistle blew on the delayed penalty call. But, McCabe instead of just touching the puck slapped it down the ice and for doing so was given a 2 minute unsportsmanlike penalty. Now I don’t like it when players do what McCabe did. I think it is childish and yes, unsportsmanlike. But, that sort of thing happens all the time, several times a game, and no penalties ever get called. I don’t think I have ever seen a penalty called when players do that and I just don’t understand what went through the referees mind to decide that now is when he is going to call that penalty. Maybe he is just having a bad day but he shouldn’t let that affect his calling of the game.

Feb 102006

We have 8 games on the schedule today consisting of a mix of easy games for some of the top teams and a couple of interesting betting opportunities. Last night my predictions went 4 for 7 which was enough for me to improve my betting balance to $129.57.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Rangers(-210) Toronto(+175) Toronto Some
Philadelphia(-280) Washington(+235) Philadelphia Strong
Carolina(-550) Pittsburgh(+425) Carolina Some
Columbus(+115) Colorado(-135) Columbus Some
Calgary(-380) St. Louis(+300) Calgary Strong
Edmonton(-160) Minnesota(+140) Edmonton Some
Vancouver(-180) Anaheim(+160) Vancouver Good
San Jose(-115) Dallas(-105) San Jose Some

(betting lines by Bowmans. )

I have had a lot of people question my power ranking system because the New York Rangers (and others) are ranked so low. Tonights (and tomorrows) Rangers-Leafs games will be at test of my power ranking system as I have Toronto as the predicted winner while the betting lines have Toronto as a fairly significant underdog. This provides an excellent betting opportunity as I really like the Toronto +175 bet.

The Columbus/Colorado game is another good betting opportunity as I have Columbus as the predicted winner but are the slight underdog according to the odds. Colorado is the better team but they are playing on the road in the second game of back to back nights and Columbus has been hot recently winning 6 of 7. I think this game could go either way but that means the Columbus +115 is an good betting opportunity.

The rest of the games are less intriguing from a betting standpoint. The Carolina odds are so poor that I am not going to bet that game and unlike last night with Atlanta over Ottawa, I have a hard time even suggesting a Pittsburgh bet. They are just so horrible that a win is very remote. Yeah, I know, my prediction only has Carolina as a ‘some’ favourite but I still can’t see Pittsburgh winning. They have lost 7 in a row and 17 of 18 and their lone win was over the also weak Washington Capitals.

St. Louis has just killed my winning percetage on ‘Strong’ predictions having won 4 of their last 5 games and against some solid teams. I still think that St. Louis is a horrible team but they just have it going on right now and because of this the +300 odds might be a decent gamble.

Feb 092006

We had another solid night on the prediction front last night going 5 for 7 missing out on the Rangers win over Ottawa and St. Louis’s win over Vancouver. We have another 7 games tonight including a couple of very interesting betting opportunities.

Current Betting balance: $128.36

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston(+110) New Jersey(-130) New Jersey Some
Buffalo(-200) Montreal(+170) Buffalo Good
Ottawa(-400) Atlanta(+320) Ottawa Some
Tampa Bay(even) Carolina(even) Carolina Some
Nashville(+105) Detroit(-125) Detroit Some
Minnesota(-130) Colorado(+110) Colorado Some
Phoenix(+155) Dallas(-175) Dallas Some

(Betting lines by Bowmans)

I can’t argue with New Jersey over Boston, Buffalo over Montreal, Detroit over Nashville or Dallas over Phoenix but the other games provide some interesting betting opportunities.

Ottawa/Atlanta – My feeling on this game is that it is going to be a blow out one way or the other. Either Ottawa comes out hard and play hard as a team after last nights dissapointing effort and they pound Atlanta, or they don’t and Atlanta pounds them. I am actually going to watch this game live so it should be fun to see how it plays out. Either way, the odds that Atlanta has make it a very intriguing bet. Of course I can’t bet it since I am testing my prediction algorithm but if I wasn’t restricted I probably would. The risk/return ratio is very very good.

Carolina/Tampa – I still haven’t figured out this Tampa team yet. Are they the team who had back to back shutouts a week or so ago, or are they the team who gave up 7 goals against New Jersey on Tuesday. They have generally played better of late but are also still a bit inconsistant. Because of that and the even odds Carolina is a very good betting opportunity.

Minnesota/Colorado – This game also seems to provide a good betting opportunity. According to my power rankings Colorado is the second best team in the NHL and so it surprises me some that Minnesota has the better odds. Go with my prediction and take Colorado with the better than even odds.

Feb 082006

Last night Minnesota beat Los Angeles 5-1 and today these two teams are the big movers in our Power Rankings as they switched positions. Minnesota rose 4 places from 14th to 10th while Los Angeles fell 4 places from 10th to 14th. Others movers include Buffalo who rose from 8th to 5th and Carolina who fell from 3rd to 6th.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.698 0.508 0.718
2 2 Colorado 0.562 0.542 0.640
3 4 Dallas 0.600 0.517 0.623
4 5 Calgary 0.591 0.522 0.618
5 8 Buffalo 0.651 0.484 0.611
6 3 Carolina 0.667 0.473 0.611
7 6 Vancouver 0.580 0.524 0.610
8 7 Detroit 0.664 0.481 0.603
9 9 Edmonton 0.518 0.532 0.566
10 14 Minnesota 0.509 0.525 0.548
11 12 Nashville 0.589 0.484 0.544
12 11 Toronto 0.509 0.512 0.537
13 13 San Jose 0.500 0.519 0.528
14 10 Los Angeles 0.500 0.520 0.527
15 15 Philadelphia 0.582 0.463 0.511
16 17 Anaheim 0.500 0.514 0.509
17 18 Montreal 0.454 0.522 0.505
18 16 Phoenix 0.456 0.531 0.499
19 20 Boston 0.464 0.510 0.487
20 19 Tampa Bay 0.536 0.467 0.485
21 22 NY Rangers 0.545 0.456 0.466
22 24 New Jersey 0.482 0.475 0.454
23 21 NY Islanders 0.426 0.494 0.435
24 23 Atlanta 0.455 0.470 0.420
25 25 Florida 0.411 0.476 0.387
26 26 Columbus 0.364 0.503 0.368
27 27 Chicago 0.343 0.500 0.340
28 28 Washington 0.324 0.485 0.318
29 29 St. Louis 0.283 0.497 0.281
30 30 Pittsburgh 0.241 0.495 0.248

AdjWinP is a teams winning percentage when shootouts are considered ties and there are no points awarded for overtime losses
SchedStr is an indication of a teams relative difficulty of schedule
Power Rank is the teams expected winning percentage if team played all .500 teams