Penguins did Fleury no favors honoring him in middle of game
February 13, 2018 3:00 AM
by Nick Pellegrino
Ceremonies most often take place prior to opening faceoff, some occur between periods and I’ve even seen a few post-game honors.
In recent weeks, I have also listed dates when teams retire sweaters of their historic players in support of my Sweater Retirement Night betting strategy. Yes, my crazy strategy remains unbeaten this season, including Saturday’s victory by Tampa Bay while playing “my” Los Angeles Kings. (Cheaters!) Additional jersey ceremonies are slated at the end of the month (Feb. 24, New Jersey; Feb. 25, N.Y. Rangers).
However, except when a major NHL record is broken (e.g., the night L.A.’s Wayne Gretzky broke the career scoring record set by Gordie Howe in of all places Edmonton), I can’t recall a time when the game was stopped in the middle of a period.
Give Pittsburgh Penguins management kudos for original thinking, handing former Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury his Stanley Cup ring in front of his adoring fans. It turned the entire contest around. With Fleury and the Vegas Golden Knights leading 2-0, the post-stoppage saw the Penguins tally five straight goals through Fleury’s tears of happiness – literally, you could see them through his mask.
Talk about a bad beat!
Quiz: Speaking of Gretzky, guess how much time was left in the third period when he topped Howe’s mark? Answer: On Oct. 15, 1989, the clock said there was 1:39 remaining – yes, exactly 99 seconds – in front of the very fans where Gretzky (No. 99, in case you’ve forgotten) started his remarkable scoring NHL career.
Quiz: Where did Gretzky begin his professional career? Answer: The Great One played eight games with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA before being traded to the Oilers, which then joined the NHL the following season.
Give Vegas a pass
Please excuse the Vegas Golden Knights for Sunday’s faux pas in falling to rising Philadelphia – one of next year’s teams to watch – in their return from a six-game, coast-to-coast road trip.
For years, we’ve heard to avoid any Western Conference home team playing their first game in their “friendly confines” following an extended trip. But what do the numbers say?
I looked them up.
It turns out there wasn’t a huge difference between the divisions.
The Central Division actually had a solid winning record, which isn’t surprising since these teams have shorter distances to cover due to their proximity by being in the center of the continent. Following a four-game trip, Central teams went 10-4. So I went on to study the Pacific Division, figuring these clubs would definitely feel the travel burden. Wrong!
Except for winless Arizona (0-3) and Calgary (0-2), the remaining six teams all posted winning ledgers, including undefeated Los Angeles (4-0) and Edmonton (3-0). The collective Pacific mark was 19-10. That’s a combined 29-14 mark (.674) – better than two-thirds! Yet betting lines are shaded lower due to the expectation of a home team being vulnerable.
As for the Knights, they are 2-1 in this situation following the setback to the Flyers, exactly following the norm.
The -300 trap
If Major League Baseball’s final two months are called the Dog Days of Summer, what do we call NHL’s final eight weeks, with betting lines already surpassing -300 for those clubs getting ready to knockout non-playoff participants getting their golf game in gear.
Unlike baseball, however, laying $3 is far from a sure thing in hockey. Just this past weekend, Buffalo was a road warrior winner in Boston (-340), Arizona took +200 in winning at Minnesota, while Detroit took +160 after a victory at Washington in overtime. In addition, streaky Calgary is 3-1 on its current eastern swing.
So keep searching and find the best values you can on the dogs – the best way to cash tickets and make money in the long run.