If you’re wondering how to play the NHL All-Star Game Saturday night from a wagering perspective, here’s two sure ways to make money: Hammer the over, and however low the under is on the number of penalties, bet the under.
|Date||Saturday, Jan. 25|
|Time||8:15 p.m. ET|
|How to watch||NBC|
|NHL All Star Game Atlantic vs Metropolitan Division||Over/under 12.5 goals (-114)|
|Date||Saturday, Jan. 25|
|Time||9:15 p.m. ET|
|How to watch||NBC|
|NHL All Star Game Pacific vs Central Division||Over/under 12.5 goals (-114)|
The All-Stars have flown into St. Louis for this season’s goal-fest, which is somewhat ironic because the hometown Blues used physical play and defense to win their first-ever Stanley Cup last June. But even coach Craig Berube, who will run the Central Division team, knows what to expect.
“It’s going to be pretty wide-open hockey for sure,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Thursday. “Goalies are going to have to play well.”
So be warned if you’re Andrei Vasilevskiy, Frederik Anderson, Braden Holtby, Tristan Jarry, Jordan Binnington, Connor Hellebuyck, David Rittich and Jacob Markstrom. You’re going to be like the cornerback left on the proverbial island when your team goes all-out blitz.
If you need further proof, just ask Anaheim goalie John Gibson. One of the best in the game found out last January in San Jose that it’s not easy to put on the gear and stop shots from the league’s best. He played the first 10 minutes for the Pacific Division against the Central and made two saves.
On nine shots.
“Stuff’s going to happen,” Gibson said after the Central’s 10-4 win.
Which is kind of the point about a NHL All-Star Game, especially one under the current format, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this weekend. There’s no 5-on-5 hockey, no crunching bodychecks and no fights – unless you want to count the fake fight John Scott and Patrick Kane staged in Nashville in 2016 that drew laughs.
Teams ice nine skaters and two goalies in a 3-on-3 setup. The Atlantic and Metropolitan will play a 20-minute period, followed by the Central and Pacific for 20 minutes. The winners play another 20 minutes to decide which team splits a million dollars.
And it’s in those final 20 minutes that you see a pace that more closely approximates a normal game. In fact, the Pacific and Atlantic Divisions actually played a 1-0 period in the final period in 2016, although few people remember that.
That’s because it was the year of Scott, who made the Pacific squad via a fan vote that some around the NHL felt was a joke. Known more as an enforcer, Scott came into the weekend with one assist in 11 games with Arizona before being traded to Montreal in a deal most believed was made for the express purpose of keeping him out of the game.
But the league had to walk back plans to keep him from playing, and Scott captained the Pacific to a victory. Scott won one last battle with the NHL when it tried to keep him off the MVP ballot that fans selected. He won the MVP in a write-in vote and was hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates.
“It’s probably one of the better weekends of my life,” he said on that Sunday night.
If Saturday night’s festivities are going to equal the ones of 2016, there’s a good chance the hometown team and its crowd will have something to do with it. St. Louis will have four players on the Central team, including Binnington, the precocious goalie who backstopped their improbable run from the NHL’s worst record last January to parading the Cup downtown in June.
Teammates Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron will join Binnington and Berube on the Central bench. Perron won a fan vote for the final spot on the Central team. He’s scored 21 goals and 28 assists in 49 games for the 30-11-8 Blues, including a whopping eight game-winners.
Pietrangelo is enjoying his best season as well in a great time to do it – his contract year. With 13 goals and 27 assists through 49 games, his first 60-point season seems pretty certain. A rich deal for next season and beyond looks like a cinch too, even if it’s not St. Louis that writes the check.
“He’s just a guy who wants the responsibility,” teammate Jay Bouwmeester told the Post-Dispatch. “He wants to be a guy who’s out there in the important situations. Right now, I guess you could say he’s thriving on it.”
On paper, Pietrangelo and teammates could become the first host division to win the NHL All-Star game under the current format. The Metropolitan won last January in San Jose, but MVP Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin won’t be around for this version.
Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of star power taking the ice. Edmonton’s 1-2 punch of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can’t be overlooked, and Boston sniper David Pastrnak brings his league-high 37 goals in 51 games to the party.
And if there’s one thing we know about an NHL All-Star Game, it’s going to be that you’d better score lots of goals to take home the million dollars.