Just as last Saturday, we see a couple crazy moneylines that have left people scratching their heads. With just four weeks left in the regular season, some teams are giving their kids more of a chance. Whether it be because of injuries, choice, or both, the expanded rosters mean seeing some ridiculous lines that would not be seen earlier in the season.
Last week, was the Tampa Bay-Ottawa game where the line steamed past -500 and the Boston-New Jersey line was north of -300. Albeit a rarity, we did touch on the possibility that this could happen once again, and sure enough… it took a whole week.
Boston Bruins versus Ottawa Senators
Honestly, the Boston-Ottawa game was almost expected. Ottawa has Craig Anderson started who is 0-10-2 in his last 12 starts. Boston is 14-0-4 in their last 18 contests. The Senators are probably playing four, maybe five NHL caliber forwards at this juncture. Ottawa’s top-six ranks dead last for both lines. Their three pairings of defensemen rank 31st, 27th, and 31st. So, two of the three pairings are the worst in the entire league. Add in a 60th ranked goalie and there is the recipe of something abysmal at best.
Ottawa deserves to be around a +375 underdog on some books for several reasons. For one, they allow a league worst 36 shots per 60. The Senators yield over four goals a game on the road in their last 20 contests away from home. Their penalty kill is 23rd, overall goals allowed (3.74 – 30th), and 9-23-2 road mark is 30th as well. Without Guy Boucher and the talent traded away, Ottawa is left with a shell of a team that can only generate some offense. They can do little else.
Boston, for its part, keeps finding ways to keep putting points on the board, whether that comes as a win, or an O.T. loss at the least. Their goaltending duo of Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask is one of the best tandems in the league. Boston’s defense allows just 2.45 goals per game (2nd best) and their power play is a top-three unit (26.7%). Their home record is 26-7-3, and only Tampa’s 28-6-2 home mark is better. Even without David Pastrnak, Boston’s moneyline is hovering between at a staggering -450 and -500.
Tampa Bay Lightning versus Detroit Red Wings
Another weekend game and Tampa Bay is an outrageous favorite once more. This time it is against the Detroit Red Wings. As mentioned above, Tampa is the best team in the league at home and scores around four goals a game there. They allow a shade less than 2.5 goals per contest. Also, this is the top-ranked power play at home where they convert at around 30%! Tampa has a 100-point scorer in Nikita Kucherov, an all-world goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy, and an offense few teams, if any, can truly compete with.
Contrast that with Detroit who besides having less talent, now have injuries and illness to deal with. Mike Green is out for the year with a mystery illness. Dylan Larkin is out with back and neck issues. Also, Jonathan Bernier is starting and not Jimmy Howard. Detroit is facing the team with the best power play, goals per game, and shooting percentage in the league. Furthermore, they are third worst in goals per game and sixth worst on the penalty kill. To further punctuate Detroit’s woes, they now rank 30th, 31st, and 30th for their defensive pairings, with their offensive counterparts are 25th or worse at every combination.
Those are among the many reasons why Tampa is also in that -450 to -500 range on the moneyline. Even the pucklines feature a -2.5 alternate-spread because of the incredulous line for the standard -1.5. Ultimately, what these games close at will be intriguing. The expectation is that this will happen again at least one or two more times before the regular season ends. Could Ottawa or Detroit pull off an upset? Yes, that is possible. Is it likely? That answer is probably not.
Update: Boston and Tampa Bay both closed at a -460 consensus and both won by a score of 3-2.
By Chris Wassel