It’s been a lot more fun to bet the NHL All-Star Game since the league adopted a three-on-three, round-robin “tournament” format in 2016. NHL betting fans don’t have one game to bet on now. They have three.
A quick reminder on the format: All four league divisions are represented. The two divisions from each conference play each other in one 20-minute game, at three-on-three. The winners of those two games play for the championship, in another 20-minute game.
If any of the games are tied after regulation, a best-of-three-round shootout commences, with additional rounds necessary until there’s a winner.
This Saturday’s game, in San Jose, figures to be a fun time. As usual, there is a skills competition the night before, too. Here are my best betting recommendations on how the first two games will go, who will win – and who walks away with the MVP.
This might be the most fun of the three games to watch. The Pacific Division is just loaded with fast, young, high-skill talent. The Central is no slouch either.
The Pacific, which is 3-0 against the Central since the new format was adopted, is favored to win again. At 888Sport, the Central is the underdog, +150 to win in regulation. I concur with this.
One thing still to be determined: Erik Karlsson’s playing status. As of Friday, Karlsson remained questionable to play because of an injury that has kept him out the last few games with the Sharks. Even if Karlsson can’t go, though, the Pacific has a little too much offensive talent for the Central, especially on the back end.
Brent Burns and Drew Doughty are terrific three-on-three players. They know both had to strip pucks away easily from opposing forwards, but what to do with it at the offensive end.
The Pacific also has Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Pettersson. Wow, is that some high-end skill right there.
I like the Pacific’s goaltending better than the Central’s as well. John Gibson and Marc-Andre Fleury have been tremendous the last couple of months. They have the edge over Devan Dubnyk and Pekka Rinne. The Central has a very good offensive lineup, which includes all three members of the Colorado Avalanche’s first line.
But I think, overall, they’re just a bit slower than the Pacific. Expect the Pacific to take a fourth straight from the Central. Take the Pacific to win in regulation at +125 with 888Sport.
The Atlantic is the solid favorite here, with the Metropolitan at +145 at Betfair for this matchup. It’s not hard to see why.
The Atlantic has the NHL’s scoring leader, Nikita Kucherov of Tampa Bay, along with league-leading Lightning teammates Steven Stamkos and Andrei Vasilevsky. Plus, Jon Cooper is the coach, so he knows how to get the best out of these guys.
John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and David Pastrnak give the Atlantic more of a skill advantage up front over a Metropolitan team that, while no slouch with guys such as Sidney Crosby and Mathew Barzal, just doesn’t have the same firepower.
The Metropolitan also was hurt by Alexander Ovechkin declining to play, in order to get more rest (that will cost him one regular-season game with the Caps, per league rules). It also hurts a lot that Taylor Hall can’t play for the Atlantic, because of injury. He’s tremendous in three-on-three situations.
The Atlantic is 2-1 against the Metro in the past three ASG meetings. I think it’ll be three out of four. Take the Atlantic to win in regulation at +130 with Betfair.
The Pacific is the official favorite to win at +250 (the Atlantic and Central are at +275, while the Metropolitan is +300).
But I’m going to call for the upset here. I say the Atlantic wins this thing, despite the Pacific having “home-ice advantage” with three Sharks on the roster. I think Cooper being the coach of a team with three Lightning players on is a bigger edge than some might think.
So, grab the Atlantic at +275 with 888Sport. Keep an eye out for Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot in this format, too. He’s a very good offensive defenseman, who I think will have a strong game.
I think Kucherov has a big game and Vasilevsky is the best goalie in the league right now. I also think Eichel will have a strong game. I think it’ll come down to Eichel and Kucherov in the battle for MVP, which leads to …
I will go with Kucherov to win it. He’s just been so great all year long for the Lightning, why stop now? He can pass and shoot, so creative in open spaces. A perfect format for him. Conor McDavid is the favorite to win the MVP, at +1100 at 888Sport. Kucherov is +1300. I say, ride the Lightning and bet Kucherov at +1300 with Betfair.
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