NHL Betting: Canucks steaming into playoffs

By: Barry Daniels | Friday, March 18, 2011

Vancouver is a sparkling 37-2-6 when scoring the first goal of a game.

Because there is an average of just 5.7 goals per game scored during the average NHL contest this season, handicappers would be wise to study which teams do well when scoring first and which are proficient when leading after two periods.

The Vancouver Canucks not only enter weekend action with an NHL-best 103 points, they also lead the league by scoring the game’s first goal 45 times. More importantly, they have accumulated a sparkling 37-2-6 record when accomplishing that feat.

Vancouver is also adroit at holding the lead going into the final stanza, evidenced by its unblemished 15-0-2 ledger. The Canucks are also a nifty 9-1-4 when leading after one period.

After hosting Phoenix this weekend, Alan Vigneault’s Canucks begin a four-game road trip that will take them to Detroit, Atlanta, Columbus and Nashville. In fact, six of Vancouver’s last nine regular season outings will be on enemy ice.

The Los Angeles Kings have scored the first goal 43 times this season, but they have lost 10 times in regulation and two in overtime (31-10-2) when producing that achievement. However, the Kings are a stellar 10-0-1 when entering the third period with a lead.

Los Angeles entered its weekend game against Anaheim with 85 points, two points ahead of Calgary for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

The surprising Tampa Bay Lightning were sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings prior to Saturday’s contest against Ottawa. The Senators would be wise to know that Tampa has notched the game’s first marker 42 times and is 27-9-6 as a result.

Bettors thinking about placing a few dollars on the Lightning this weekend were happy to know that center Vincent LeCavalier will not be suspended for slashing Montreal’s P.K. Subban in Thursday’s game. LeCavalier has 18 goals and 22 assists in 54 games.

The Toronto Maple Leafs own the distinction of scoring the first goal the fewest times (26) in the league. The Leafs are 16-4-6 when jumping out to a lead and 10-0-3 when carrying that lead into the third period.

The Leafs trail the eighth-place Buffalo Sabres by four points heading into Saturday’s home game against the Boston Bruins. Toronto might be without defenseman Michael Komisarek (back), who is listed as “questionable” on the Don Best Sports injury report.

Scoring first on the road is a good recipe for success, and the Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings lead the way in that category.

Minnesota is 16-0-2 in the 18 games when it has scored the first goal on enemy ice, while the Red Wings are 15-0-3. Detroit has turned its fast start into the league’s best road record at 24-9-2-2.

The Wild won’t have to worry about road games this weekend, as they host the Blue Jackets on Saturday and the Canadiens on Sunday. The Wings travel to Nashville for a Saturday meeting against the Predators.

Detroit should be aware that the Predators are the only team in the league with a perfect home record (11-0-5) when scoring the game’s first goal. Nashville is also 12-0-3 when entering the final period with a lead.

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