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2010-11 Montreal Canadiens NHL Predictions and Odds

The Montreal Canadiens improbable playoff run last season raises a few questions. How did Montreal manage to win two Game 7s on the road, one against top-seed Washington and another against defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh? Where had that Montreal team been all regular season when it struggled just to get into the postseason? And then how did that same Montreal team get blown away by No. 7 seed Philadelphia in five games?

And, of course, the question most pertinent to this season, why is the hero of those playoffs, Jaroslav Halak, now suiting up for the St. Louis Blues?

The answer to the latter question is Carey Price. The 23-year old netminder signed a two-year contract extension in early September this year. Montreal is putting their faith in the netminder for the second season in a row. Price was the No. 1 goalie last season, but as the season wore on Halak began to handle more and more games before completely taking over in February and in the playoffs where Price only saw one game of action.

More so than any other team in the NHL, the situation in net could define this Montreal season. Behind Price will be veteran Alex Auld, who presents an ideal situation. The 29-year-old is a veteran and capable backup, but his job is to spell Price at times, not to have Price constantly looking over his shoulder. Auld has played 20-plus games in a season four times with four different teams, and the plan is for him to see around 20 starts this season.

The pressure will be on prospect Lars Eller to produce on either the second or third line. The pressure to produce comes from the fact that Eller was one of the pieces St. Louis sent to Montreal in exchange for Halak.

Tomas Pelkanec returned to his 2007-08 form last season when he scored 25 goals and added 45 assists. While Pelkanec was producing, center Scott Gomez was regressing. His 12 goals were the fewest since his third season in New Jersey. His 59 points were the fourth lowest of his 10-year career.

The Montreal Canadiens schedule opens at Toronto on Thursday, Oct. 7 and then they return to Pittsburgh, where they closed down Mellon Arena for good back in May. Montreal has one of the longest road swings in the NHL with a seven-game trip in late December that winds from Colorado to the East Coast and to Florida. Montreal gets its rematch against Philadelphia when it plays the Flyers twice in a four-game span in late November.

Offseason Moves
Losing Halak and gaining Auld is by no means a wash for Montreal. but when considering what Auld will be asked to do this move has the potential of helping the goalie situation. Eller and left winger Ian Schulz represent the return for Halak, and both have received high marks in training camp so far. Forwards Sergei Kostitsyn (Nashville) and Gregory Stewart (Edmonton ) and defenseman Shawn Belle (Edmonton) were the major notable departures from Montreal in the offseason.

Montreal Canadiens Predictions: Outlook
Montreal has the makeup of a playoff team, but to improve on its No. 8 seed from last season it will have to improve on an offense that averaged 2.6 goals per game last season (25th in the league). The Habs hope they have the postseason-like efforts of Mike Cammalleri, who scored 13 goals in 21 games compared to the regular season when he scored only 26 goals all season. The Halak trade could end up being addition by subtraction in the goalie situation and expect Montreal to resemble the team we all remember for their unprecedented playoff run last season and not the one who barely snuck into the playoffs.

Montreal Canadiens Futures Odds
Montreal’s NHL betting odds to return to the Eastern Conference finals are +700. To win the Northeast Division Montreal is listed at +400. Their odds to win the Eastern Conference are +1400 and their odds to win the Stanley Cup, +2500. The Habs ‘over/under’ for total season wins is 40.5. Odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NHL Predictions for Montreal Canadiens
Their playoff run was not a fluke last season. Montreal has the personnel in place to make another run. They won 39 games last season and an improvement should be expected, so take ‘over’ 40.5 wins.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.

2010-11 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Predictions and Odds

I’m starting my NHL Central Division previews at the bottom, as the Columbus Blue Jackets finished the 2009-10 season with 35 wins and just 79 points, 11 behind fourth-place St. Louis. It was the first time the team had finished in the Central cellar since 2003 and the campaign was considered a huge disappointment after Columbus reached the playoffs the season before. That cost Coach Ken Hitchcock his job last winter, as a result Scott Arniel is the new coach.

There was certainly more than one reason for Columbus’ slide, but goalie Steve Mason took a huge step back after being a Vezina finalist in his 2008-09 rookie year when he led the NHL with 10 shutouts. Last season Mason’s save percentage of .901 was 37th out of 44 qualified goaltenders, while his goals against average of 3.08 was 38th. The Jackets dropped from ninth in the NHL in goals allowed (223) in 2008-09 to 24th (249) last season. Earlier this week, the Jackets locked up the 22-year-old with a two-year extension, keeping the goalie under contract for the next three years. The deal is for $ 5.8 million total. He reportedly lost 15 pounds this offseason and is in the best shape of his young career.

The Jackets still don’t have enough offense around superstar Rick Nash, who also took a step back in overall production last season with 33 goals and 34 assists. Everyone keeps waiting for him to turn into a 50-goal scorer. Thanks to solid seasonsfrom Antoine Vermette, Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger and Jakub Voracek, the Jackets had five 50-point scorers for the first time in franchise history. Yet the Blue Jackets sunk to 20th in the league in scoring last season, netting just 214 goals. Supposedly the Jackets will have a much more offensive system this year under Arniel.

Columbus Blue Jackets’ Offseason Moves
In all honesty, the team really didn’t make any big splashes in either direction (Ethan Moreau?) in offseason additions other than an entirely new coaching staff. Arniel, the fifth coach in franchise history, joins the Jackets after spending four seasons as coach of the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate. Veteran goalie Mathieu Garon was brought in to back up Mason. But the key move could be the return of 2008 first-round pick Nikita Filatov. After floundering early last year, he was allowed to play with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. In 26 KHL regular season games, Filatov had nine goals and 13 assists.

Columbus Blue Jackets Predictions: Outlook
Is this the surprise team of two seasons ago or the bottom-feeder of last year? A lot of that could depend on the new offensive system and Filatov and Derick Brassard stepping up. The latter had an impressive rookie season two years ago but then scored only nine goals in a tough third season. The hope is that he can end up next to Nash on the No. 1 line, which was the plan last season. But the Jackets really have the bad misfortune to be stuck in arguably the best division in hockey with powerhouses Chicago and Detroit, up-and-coming St. Louis and always-overachieving Nashville. Last place looks likely again. The Columbus Blue Jackets schedule starts out tough as they open the season at home against the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Columbus Blue Jackets Futures Odds
The NHL lines to win the Central Division or ‘over/under’ win odds weren’t active at press time for Columbus. Its odds to win the Western Conference are +5000, which are tied with Edmonton and Minnesota for the longest. The Jackets’ odds to win the Stanley Cup are +10000. Needless to say, it would not be wise to take a longshot on this team.

NHL Predictions for Columbus Blue Jackets
Hopefully this will at least be a more exciting team now that it won’t be under the complete defensive strategy favored by Hitchcock. And maybe Nash can carry the team to 85 points or the like. Columbus needs an infusion of something because fan support is waning, with season-ticket sales down more than 25 percent from last year.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.

2010-11 Buffalo Sabres NHL Predictions and Odds

Last season Buffalo got away from its all-offense, all-the-time mentality and found themselves back in the playoffs. Leaning on their defense while scoring the fewest goals since the 2004 NHL lockout, the Sabres returned to the playoffs after a two-year absence.

The 207 goals Buffalo allowed were the fewest since 2001-02 thanks to Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller. The United States Olympic hero had a career year, winning 41 games and posting a 2.22 GAA, both career highs to go along with his silver medal.

The other leader of the Buffalo defense, Tyler Myers, picked up some hardware of his own. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie last season. Unfortunately for Miller, Myers, and the rest of the Buffalo defense, keeping a D that ranked fourth last season in the league intact was not a priority of the front office this offseason.

Lindy Ruff, the longest tenured coach in the NHL, returns for his 13th season. Ruff has led the Sabres to the playoffs only three times in the last eight seasons, and if Buffalo fails to get into the postseason or even out of the first round again the angst in Buffalo will grow even larger.

The Sabres finished 45-27-10 last season with 100 points to win the Northeast Division and earn the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs they were dealt a tough blow when leading scorer Thomas Vanek was lost in the first round series against Boston.

The Buffalo Sabres schedule keeps them at home for four consecutive games after opening the season at Ottawa on Friday Oct. 8. A critical stretch for Buffalo comes in December when it meets Boston three times in three weeks.

Offseason Moves
The thinking of GM Darcy Regier must have been that the defensive success from last season had everything to do with Miller and Myers. Regier let defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman leave via free agency. Those two losses will have the greatest impact on the Sabres, but defenseman Jordan Leopold was brought in after a short stint with the Penguins and Shaone Morrisonn was signed after six years in Washington to help fill defensive holes. Center Rob Niedermayer (New Jersey) and winger Tim Conboy (Carolina) were two other low-risk free agent signings Regier oversaw this offseason.

Buffalo Sabres Predictions: Outlook
The heart and soul of last season’s team took a hit in the offseason when Tallinder and Lydman left, but this will still be a squad that makes its living by preventing goals, not by outscoring the opponent. Even though they are defending division champs, the Northeast division is Boston’s to lose. The Bruins proved that in a first round series win over Buffalo last season. Buffalo appears to have taken a step back from last season and this team will be forced to lean heavily on its goalie.

Buffalo Sabres Futures Odds
The reigning Northeast Division champions are not expected to repeat. Buffalo’s NHL betting odds are +450 to win the division, behind Boston (-150) and even Montreal and Ottawa (+400). The Sabres’ odds to win the Eastern Conference are +1800 and their odds to win the Stanley Cup are +3000. Their season win total ‘over/under’ is 43.5. Odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NHL Predictions for Buffalo Sabres
A lot will be asked of Miller and a lot will be asked of Myers, who is only a second year player. The defense will certainly regress and another 45-win season does not look to be in the books. Expect Buffalo to get close to 40 wins but stay ‘under’ the total of 43.5.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.

2010-11 New York Islanders NHL Predictions and Odds

There are two ways to look at the New York Islanders current situation. There is the positive of an 18-point increase from the 2008-09 season to last year, but a third straight Atlantic Division last-place finish also lets you know just how far the Islanders have to go.

Under GM Garth Snow the Islanders have been moving in the right direction over the course of the past few years. Even with the positive steps that have been taken the Islanders still have a long road to travel and tangible postseason results are still off in the distance.

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, John Tavares, is the unquestioned future of this team. He scored 24 goals last season including 11 power-play goals, best on the team. He finished with 54 points and another major step forward in his career should be expected this season. Matt Moulson scored a quiet 30 goals last season to lead the team and winger Kyle Okposo is another young talent with a lot of potential.

The offense was not exactly great last season (21st in the NHL), but it was far from the Islanders biggest problem. Allowing 3.15 goals per game last season, New York finished a dismal 28th in defense in the league.

The goalie situation is also an area of concern. Rick DiPietro is as fragile as they come in the NHL. The Islanders still want him as the goalie of the future, but until he proves he can last an entire season, or at least half a season, New York will lean on 40-year old veteran Dwayne Roloson. He played in 50 games last season, considerably more than the Islanders wanted to. However, they had no choice.

Scott Gordon is in the final year of his three-year contract and he may not see the next calendar year if this Islanders season starts the way so many before it have.

The New York Islanders schedule is tough enough considering 24 of their games are against Atlantic Division rivals: New Jersey, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In addition to that the Islanders play 12 of their first 17 games on the road, an unbelievably tough stretch for a team who went 11-23-7 on the road last season.

Offseason Moves
The key moves this offseason were aimed at bolstering the third worst defense in the NHL. The Islanders signed Mark Eaton, formerly of Pittsburgh, and dealt a draft pick for James Wisniewski, a four-year veteran fresh off a career year (30 points in 69 games) with Anaheim. They will join veteran holdover Mark Streit as leaders of a defense that at the very least will be an upgrade from last season.

The Islanders parted ways with backup goalie Martin Biron (New York Rangers), which could come back and bite the team if Roloson or DiPietro are forced to miss extended time. There is no other goalie on the roster with NHL experience. Former Lightning enforcer and highlight of most hockey fighting compilations, Zenon Konopka, is another noteworthy addition to the Islanders. He led the NHL with 265 penalty minutes last season.

New York Islanders Predictions: Outlook
Another 30-goal season seems to be a lot to ask from Moulson, but Tavares and Okposo are capable of taking that next step in their development. The defense will improve, but the goalie situation has the potential to deteriorate and derail this season.

New York Islanders Futures Odds
The Islanders NHL betting odds for season wins total ‘over/under’ is the lowest in the NHL at 32.5. They are long shots to win the Atlantic Division (+2500), the Eastern Conference (+5000) and obviously the Stanley Cup (+10,000).

NHL Predictions for New York Islanders
Give credit to the Islanders for having a plan and sticking to it. If Snow and Gordon are given time the Islanders could make another step in the right direction this season, but a drastic improvement off of their 13th-place Eastern Conference finish last season should not be expected. If New York is blessed with healthy goalies they should be able to surpass 32.5 wins.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.

Asian Odds In Soccer Betting

If you were to ask a person on the street to explain soccer betting to you, the answer you will hear is likely to be along the lines of simply deciding which team you think will win or whether the game will end in a draw, and then placing a bet on that outcome. While this is certainly true when it comes to fixed odds betting, Asian odds betting provides an entirely different betting experience that many have found to be both intriguing and exciting.

 

Asian odds betting works on the basic principle that, unlike fixed odds betting, which has a total of 3 possible outcomes for every match on which you can bet, Asian odds betting only offer bettors 2 different possible outcomes for every match. This means that there is a lower number of choices you have to deal with, making it easier, in theory, to decide which one is more likely to happen. Asian odds betting aims to give bettors a 50-50 chance of being right whichever way they choose, through the use of a handicap.

 

The handicap is a concept unknown in fixed odds betting. In Asian odds betting, the handicap is used to level the playing field when the two teams playing are of unequal skill levels. The less skilful team thus receives a handicap, thus raising their chances of ‘winning’ once the handicap is applied to the final score of the game.

 

The possibility that there is a draw when the final score is calculated and the handicap applied is greatly diminished, since handicaps are often applied in terms of quarter-goals, half-goals, or even three-quarter goals, so there will almost always be a clear winner. In the unlikely event that there is a draw, however, the bookmaker will provide a full refund of all bets on that match, and bettors will have lost nothing.

 

Track Your Bets With SOCCER LiveScore

 

One problem that many people face when betting on soccer is that there is a limited number of games on which they can bet. Most people feel limited to betting on those games which they can then watch on their televisions in order to track the progress of the match and find out at the end of the match whether or not they won their bet.

 

With SOCCER LiveScore, however, this is no longer a problem. SOCCER LiveScore, as its name suggest, provides a live feed of the scores of all the games being played around the world, no matter how obscure the soccer the league is. The best SOCCER LiveScore websites even offer the scores of minor-league games, making it possible for bettors to bet even on those little-known games.

 

SOCCER LiveScore is also excellent if you do not receive televised soccer matches in the area where you live, but you still wish to bet on soccer. A simple search in any one of the online search engines will provide a multitude of results, with multiple websites all offering SOCCER LiveScore services that you can take advantage of absolutely free of charge.

With SOCCER livescore, you can now place bets on games even when you are unable to watch them on television, and what better way to make use of this information than to take advantage of the Asian odds betting options offered by Betewin.

Chicago Blackhawks vs LA Kings: NHL Odds on Versus

While Stanford and Virginia Tech will tell a tale of Pac-10 vs ACC teams fighting it out in the Orange Bowl at 8:30pm EST on Monday night; it will be a tale of two 4th place teams hitting the boards when the Chicago Blackhawks (20-17-3) travel to face the Los Angeles Kings (22-15-1) on Versus live from the STAPLES Center with the puck scheduled to drop at 9:00pm EST. Online sportsbooks have opened with the Kings as a -135 favorite in NHL predictions vs the Blackhawks +115 with an over/under betting total of 5.5 UNDER (-120). Sportsbooks also favor Los Angeles -1.5 (+225) in puck line NHL odds vs Chicago +1.5 (-270) for Monday night’s game on Versus.

The Blackhawks currently sit in fourth pace of the Central Division and had won four consecutive games towards the end of December but have lost their path with three consecutive losses heading into Monday’s match-up vs the Kings. Chicago lost 1-2 on Sunday as favorites in NHL predictions on the road vs the Anaheim Ducks to follow a 3-5 loss vs the San Jose Sharks and 1-3 loss at the St. Louis Blues. Although the Blackhawks are underdogs in NHL odds vs the Kings they do have positive betting trends in their favor having gone 8-1 in their previous nine match-ups including 5 straight wins vs Los Angeles and holding them to only two goals in that span.

The Kings also sit in fourth place of the Pacific Division and have their own losing streak to contend with tonight as Los Angeles has lost their last three game. The Kings lost to the San Jose Sharks 0-1 on Saturday as favorites in NHL predictions at home after a 4-7 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and 3-6 road loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Los Angeles will have to also overcome being out-shot by the Blackhawks 11-27 in their previous nine match-ups. The Kings are ranked 12th in the league for goals per game this season and could pull off the victory at home tonight if captain Dustin Brown can finally find the net vs Chicago. Brown has only one goal vs the Blackhawks in their past nine games.

NHL Predictions: Chicago Blackhawks +115

Bishop Whitmore is Editor in Chief of VegasSportsOdds.com and has been in the sports entertainment industry for the past 10 years consulting for various media outlets and sportsbooks. View daily sports reviews, poker strategies and casino rooms from Bishop Whitmore at VegasSportsOdds.com.

2010-11 Minnesota Wild NHL Predictions and Odds

If the NHL were a color wheel, the Minnesota Wild would be grey. They aren’t offensive or brash. They aren’t anything really. You just hardly notice that they are around. They are kind of like the Minnesota Timberwolves—it must be something in the water in Minneapolis.

The Wild went through a transition last year—or at least that was the original plan. After Jacques Lemaire had led the team throughout their history to play a system in which defense was all that mattered and offense was an afterthought, new Coach Todd Richards was supposed to turn the team into a far more effective offensive threat.

It didn’t really turn out that way. They dropped from No. 2 to No. 21 in the defensive rankings in the league, and yet had only the 22nd best offense. It’s no wonder that they weren’t very good. Needless to say, Richards has some work to do this year.

One interesting development with this team is their renewed focus on conditioning in the offseason. Lemaire is an old school guy, so he didn’t place a lot of importance on offseason workouts. When Richards tried to turn up the speed on offense last year, he found a team that wasn’t up for the challenge. Players were worked with much more in the offseason, and have been held much more accountable for their physical preparedness in the fall. The impact of that, if it was done well, should show up on the ice.

Minnesota Wild Offseason Moves
The Wild cut some fat from the roster, including ancient forward Owen Nolan and useless tough guy Derek Boogaard. They replaced those guys with a couple of veterans in Matt Cullen and John Madden. They added a younger player in Eric Nystrom, who showed some promise with Calgary. Cullen and Madden are both centers who will help the team both up the middle and in the dressing room.

Minnesota Wild Predictions: Outlook
I don’t think that this is a playoff team, but they could be in the mix. To do that, though, they will need a lot of things to go right for them. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who missed all but one game last year with concussion issues, will have to prove himself healthy and productive.

Martin Havlat will have to prove that the big contract he got last year wasn’t a total waste of money. Mikko Koivu needs to take another big step forward. The team needs to learn how to be at least somewhat competent on the road—last year they were hopeless.

Minnesota Wild NHL Odds
Minnesota is 80/1 to win the Stanley Cup. Only the Islanders and the Blue Jackets are longer shots. They get scarcely more respect in the conference, where they are 50/1, or in their division, where they are 20/1. The season point total is set at 85.5.

Minnesota Wild NHL Predictions
The Wild could be in the playoff mix, and a second-place finish in the division and an eighth-place in the conference (and the playoff berth that goes with it) aren’t out of the question, but I sure wouldn’t bet on it. I don’t think that Richards is a great coach, and he doesn’t have a whole lot to work with here. If everyone played at their best this still isn’t a very good team.

As a hockey handicapper my best guess is that they will finish third in the division ahead of Calgary and Edmonton, but behind Colorado and in a different universe than the Canucks. That would put them 10th or so in the conference.

The season points total is pretty tight, but I would lean slightly to the “over.” They had 84 points last year and are healthier and fitter to start the season. I don’t look for a big move forward, but the neighborhood of 88 points would be achievable.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.

2010-11 Philadelphia 76ers NBA Predictions and Odds

The Sixers start the season with a new GM, Rod Thorn, who is perhaps best known for bringing Michael Jordan to the Chicago Bulls. Thorn hired Doug Collins as head coach and now the Sixers are poised to make some noise in the Atlantic Division, but for that to happen, Philly needs to work on the basics like perimeter shooting and defense.

Last season, rather than making the playoffs and scoring a lot of points in former coach Eddie Jordan’s Princeton offense, the Sixers’ were exposed as undisciplined, unmotivated, and played without energy and passion. Conversely, Doug Collins will play the mentor role, developing and inspiring the Sixers’ young players. 

Collins is the polar opposite of Jordan and he’ll game plan to his players’ strengths rather than having them fit into a pre-planned scheme like Jordan did. However, Collins will have a hard time finding wins if he doesn’t improve the team dramatically with their interior defensive game. It’s unlikely but if he can shore up the defense this year then the Sixers might have a glimmer of hope to backdoor into the playoffs.

The Philadelphia 76ers schedule has the Sixers hitting the road for two games at Indiana and Washington. The good news for Philly is they will play six out their last eight games at home, with the last four consecutive games at home to close out the season.

Philadelphia 76ers Offseason Moves
The Sixers left no stone unturned when making moves this offseason. General Manager Ed Stefanski got demoted and Rod Thorn was named as Team President. Jordan was fired and replaced with Doug Collins.

As for the players, Philadelphia dealt Samuel Dalembert to Sacramento in exchange for Andres Nocioni and Spencer Hawes. Long-time Sixer Willie Green and fourth-year forward Jason Smith were traded to Charlotte for veteran forward Darius Songalia, and 2010 first round pick Craig Brackins from Iowa State.

Philadelphia might have had the steal of the draft by picking up Jrue Holiday 17th overall and he looks like he’ll start in front of the NBA’s overall second pick in the preseason, Evan Turner, a Naismith award winner. Finally, the Sixers have been having a hard time trying to dump Elton Brand, but there is little interest due to his lead ballon of a contract. Therefore, he is still on the team.
 
Philadelphia 76ers Preview: Outlook
Last year the Sixers were ranked 24th in defensive efficiency rating, but that should improve this year with top-five defender Andre Iguodala getting support from rookie small forward Holiday. Turner will help bolster the defense as well, but Philly did little to address their interior defense. Philadelphia will excel on perimeter defense, but that will only make opponents go to strong to the inside.

The Sixers also have an excellent transition game, as they have a very athletic group of players. However, the problems for Philly include a lackluster half-court offense, awful defensive rebounding, and porous interior defense. The Sixers won’t contend for a title this year, or even the playoffs. However, if Philly concentrates on developing their young core players they should be back in the postseason in two years.
 
Philadelphia 76ers NBA Odds
The Philadelphia 76ers odds to win the Atlantic Division are +5000 and the odds double if you want to back the Sixers to win the NBA Championship at +10000. The oddsmakers set the Philadelphia 76ers ‘over/under’ at 33.5 total wins; a seven-game, or 24 percent increase in total wins over last year. The Philadelphia 76ers won 27 games in 2009-10 and finished fourth in the Atlantic Division. NBA odds are courtesy of BetUS.

NBA Picks for Philadelphia 76ers
Last season the Sixers were ranked in bottom third in most statistical categories from three-point shooting to defensive rebounding. Jordan’s Princeton offense was a bust and the Sixers suffered through a disastrous season. Will a new proven GM and a new head coach translate into seven more wins for the Sixers? Certainly the Sixers should win more games than last year, but I think 34 games is too much of a leap so I am advising playing the ‘under’ 33.5 total wins for the 2010-11 NBA season.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NBA handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NBA Odds and his famous winning basketball picks.

2010-11 Nashville Predators NHL Predictions and Odds

In recent years, the Nashville Predators have been stuck in NHL purgatory in that the franchise is never good enough to be a serious contender in the playoffs but never bad enough to possibly draft that franchise-changing talent at the top of the first round. The Preds have qualified for the postseason in every year but one since 2004 but still haven’t won a playoff series.

Last year, the Preds finished with 100 points, which is the third time in the past five seasons they reached triple digits, and ended up third in the Central Division. Nashville did give the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks major headaches in last year’s first round, however. Don’t forget that Nashville was less than 60 seconds from taking a 3-2 series lead on the Blackhawks but gave up a short-handed goal to Patrick Kane with 13.6 seconds left in Game Five and then an overtime winner to Marian Hossa. It was the closest the Hawks came to being in dire trouble in last season’s playoffs.

The 2010-11 Nashville Predators schedule opens at home against the Ducks.

Nashville Predators Offseason Moves
Budgetary concerns probably are always going to play a big role in how this small-market franchise operates. This offseason GM David Poile traded team captain Jason Arnott in a deal that brought him $ 4.5 million in cap space and as well as a young, inexpensive forward in Matt Halischuk. Poile used that cap room to sign Matthew Lombardi as Arnott’s replacement. He also signed restricted free-agent defenseman Ryan Parent after acquiring him from the Flyers for defenseman Dan Hamhuis.

Poile also traded the rights to free agent goaltender Dan Ellis (now in Tampa) and restricted free agent forward Dustin Boyd to the Montreal Canadiens for the rights to restricted free agent Sergei Kostitsyn, a talented but inconsistent player. Ellis really isn’t much of a loss because Pekka Rinne emerged as the clear-cut starter in the latter part of last season.

Probably the biggest move was the Preds re-signing restricted free agent Patric Hornqvist to a three-year, $ 9.25 million extension. Hornqvist was the final overall pick in the 2005 draft but exploded with 30 goals last season.

Nashville Predators Predictions: Outlook
Nashville has two excellent defensemen in captain Shea Weber and Ryan Suter—that’s easily a top-five pairing in the NHL. And defense no doubt will again be the team’s calling card, although Hamhuis will be missed. Nashville was the only Western Conference playoff team that did not finish the 2009-10 regular season with a positive goal differential. But the Predators were an excellent 28-9-6 in one-goal games.

The offensively challenged club is banking on the 22-year-old Kostitsyn finally living up to his purported talent—he has just 24 goals in his 155 career games and never has had more than nine in a single season. Plus, he was known as a very high-maintenance player in Montreal (i.e. he had an attitude problem). The Predators also could use a bounce-back season from David Legwand, who slipped to 38 points last year. Martin Erat (whose giveaway led to the Kane goal in the playoffs), J.P. Dumont, Colin Wilson (15 points in 35 games as a rookie) and Steve Sullivan round out the top forwards on the club.

Nashville better hope that Rinne (32-16-5, 2.53 goals-against average and .911 save percentage last season) wasn’t a one-year wonder because there’s no experienced backup now. Rinne played in 58 games last year and probably will be counted on for at least 65 this season.

Nashville Predators NHL Odds
The Preds over/under for points is 89.5. They are +1000 to win the Central Division, which is third in the division with St. Louis. Nashville is 25/1 to win the West and 50/1 to hoist the Cup.

NHL Predictions for Nashville Predators
You know this team will be well-coached by Barry Trotz—the Preds were the least penalized team in the NHL, averaging just 8.7 minutes a night. And you know it will play plenty of close, low-scoring games. The best finish this team can probably hope for is third in the Central and sixth in the conference. Take the over 89.5 points but don’t expect that first playoff series win to come this season.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.

2010-11 Detroit Red Wings NHL Predictions and Odds

Most NHL franchises would call a season in which they put up 102 points and won a playoff series a success, but most NHL franchises aren’t the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings finished second in the Central Division to Chicago, which was the first time since 1999-2000 that the Wings didn’t win the division.

And, sure, they went and won a Game 7 in Phoenix to advance to the Western Conference semifinals. But they were dominated in five games by San Jose. It was the earliest Detroit—a Cup finalist the previous two years—had been KO’d since 2006. The Coyotes series was the first time in 17 consecutive postseasons that Detroit didn’t have home-ice advantage in the first playoff round.

There was a stretch there that it looked like Detroit might actually miss the playoffs as injuries decimated the team before it surged at the end; after the Olympic break, Detroit was an NHL-best 16-3-2.

Top contributors like Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen and Daniel Cleary all missed time. Overall, the Wings lost 312 man games to injury. So by simply staying healthier the team should improve this year.

The Detroit Red Wings schedule opens at home against Anaheim, with a great early clash at Chicago on a night the Hawks will raise their new Stanley Cup banner in the faces of their bitter rivals.

Detroit Red Wings Offseason Moves
The Wings were fairly quiet this offseason, with the big-name acquisition behind the addition of former Star Mike Modano. But this isn’t the Modano you remember as the 40-year-old, who had never played outside the Stars’ organization in his career, who is coming off his lowest-scoring season since 1995.

The Detroit native had 14 goals and 30 points in 59 games, fading to being a fourth-line center in Dallas. He will probably center the third line in Detroit with Jiri Hudler and Cleary. Hudler is back from one year spent in the Russian KHL. He had 36 goals and 99 points in two Wings seasons before spending the year in Russia.

Detroit also added veteran defenseman Ruslan Salei through free agency. But the big news on that defense was the Wings convincing future Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom to come back for one more season at age 40.

The only loss of note in the offseason was that the Wings let Jason Williams walk. He was injury-prone anyways and had 15 points in 44 games last year.

Detroit Red Wings Predictions: Outlook
The Wings still have as much talent as anyone, but this is an aging roster whose championship window may have closed. Valtteri Filppula was the only Red Wing under 29 last season who scored more than 30 points. This year the Red Wings could open with a roster of 13 players who are 30 or older. That number includes two 40-year-olds in Modano and Lidstrom.

Detroit’s top line of Pavel Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Holmstrom is one of the best in the league. Datsyuk, however, is coming off a down year by his standards. He tied with Zetterberg for the team-lead in points last season, but his 70 were 27 fewer than he had in 2008-09, when he was a Hart Trophy finalist.

Filppula, Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi will be the second line. Franzen missed 55 games with a torn knee ligament last season. He was a 34-goal scorer in 2008-09 and followed with 12 goals in the postseason and expects to be back at full speed.

The addition of Hudler and Modano should make the third line that much better, and Hudler is very good on the power play as he had six goals and 22 assists with the man advantage two seasons ago.

Perhaps the biggest question outside of health is goalie Jimmy Howard. Is he a one-year wonder? At one point the rookie started 25 consecutive games last season. He finished tied for fourth in the league with a .924 save percentage and fifth with a 2.26 goals-against average. Chris Osgood is back as Howard’s backup and might be the best No. 2 in the league even at his advanced age. Detroit was seventh in the NHL in goals-against last season and ninth in shots-against.

Detroit Red Wings NHL Odds
The Wings are 11/1 to win the Stanley Cup, 6/1 to win the West and +175 to win the Central Division (second to Chicago). Their “over/under” point total is 102.5.

NHL Predictions for Detroit Red Wings
It’s a sure thing that Detroit makes the playoffs for the 20th-straight season, a mark that’s far and away the best in the NHL. And they might have enough to battle the weakened Blackhawks’ right to the end for the Central title. This team almost has to be healthier than last year, so I would expect a trip to the conference finals but no further.

Doc Moseman is one of the pioneers of the NHL handicapping industry. Check out his Web site for up-to-the-minute NHL Odds and his famous winning hockey picks.