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NHL Hockey Free Picks for 12/19/09–Into the Fire – SportsUntapped.com
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Added December 19th, 2009 by David Glisan

NHL Hockey Free Picks for 12/19/09–Into the Fire
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Our college basketball play on Friday night was a winner as Long Beach State thumped Utah State by 13 points as +4′ underdogs.  Nothing better when a game works out exactly as you ‘drew it up’.  A ton of sports on tap over the next few weeks with hockey, hoops, MMA, NFL and college football and we’ll do our best to keep you in the black over the holidays.  Back to NHL totals for our first play for Saturday:

NASHVILLE PREDATORS VS. CALGARY FLAMES (4:05 Eastern/1:05 Pacific):

Ironically, this matchup is very similar in its construction to our college basketball play on Friday night.  Nashville needs to score goals to win, while Calgary wins with defense and goaltending.  The recent form of the Predators gives us a 5′ total to work with as opposed to the 5 the Flames have been dealt more frequently of late.  Nashville has won three straight and six of eight averaging just under 4.5 goals per game in that span.  Not surprisingly, they’ve also gone ‘over’ in three straight and 7 of their last nine.

The Flames have cooled off of late (no pun intended…well, *maybe* intended just a little bit) having lost five of their last eight games and now find themselves tied with Colorado for the lead in the NHL Northwest Division.  The problem certainly isn’t with the defense and particularly not the goaltending.  Mikka Kiprusoff has been in stellar form of late, with his goals against average in the month of December a minuscule 1.71.  Overall, the Flames are 5th in the NHL in scoring defense.   All five of the Flames losses during their recent stretch were by a single goal, and 7 of those 8 games went ‘under’ the total.

A common mistake that beginning totals handicappers make is basing their plays on comparative averages.  In other words, they assume that if Calgary and Nashville allow X goals per game and score Y its simply a case of doing a little math to get a ‘projected’ total for the game.  The problem with this is that it completely ignores what I consider the most salient component of totals handicapping, and particularly in hockey:  the importance of matchups.  As we’ve said before the old boxing adage that ‘styles make fights’ applies to other sports as well.  The Flames are off a 2-1 win over Los Angeles at home, and clearly want to regain some of their momentum.  The recent history of the series suggests that they’ll do that, as they’ve won 7 of the last 9 meetings with the Predators including 3 of 4 in Canada’s Cowtown.  When the Flames win, they go ‘under’ and the series reflects that as well:  the two teams have played ‘under’ in 4 of the last 7 meetings and 13 of the last 19.  Look for another low scoring contest here.

PLAY CALGARY/NASHVILLE UNDER 5′

 
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