Ottawa Senators @ Arizona Coyotes – Gila River Arena at 02:00

Back for more NHL action as my latest NHL Handicap Betting preview turns its attention to the American Southwest. Arizona host Ottawa as both franchises are experiencing different fortunes this campaign. The Coyotes as expected have struggled, whilst on the other hand Ottawa are riding high in the east.

Trending upwards in Ottawa

The Ottawa Senators have turned on the style in the past week. They have won four straight as they edge closer to the top of the Atlantic. Additionally, the Sens have made some daylight on the rivals beneath them as they are seven points ahead of NY Islanders who hold the second wildcard position. The leading Montreal Canadiens are four points ahead of Ottawa in the division. You have to go back eleven years as to when Ottawa last won a division championship. Back then Ottawa had the ‘CASH’ line that consisted of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. All three players amassed at least 90 points that campaign.

Back to 2017, and although the Senators do not have a forward that possesses that attacking IQ, they have a plethora of depth scorers. Captain Erik Karlsson as expected leads the side in points with 58. The defenceman is the face of the franchise and has at times carried his side to victory. Second in the scoring list is Mark Stone. I’m a massive fan of the 24-year old power forward. He was drafted in the sixth round 7 years ago and has blossomed into a legitimate NHL star. This is the Winnipeg native’s third full season in the league and he has already had two 60+ point campaigns under his belt. He is currently on 50 from 62 games.

Location issues still a concern for the Coyotes

With another write off year for the Coyotes, the biggest concern is where they will be playing for the foreseeable future. To put it bluntly the move to the Greater Phoenix has been a bust for the NHL. The latest noticeable event in this saga is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman saying that the franchise cannot remain in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale. They have been based there for 14 years and have barely made profit with empty seats being an issue. The Yotes had the second worst average attendance last season at 13,433, which comes to a capacity percentage of 78.4. Does the franchise’s future lay further afield?

On the ice hasn’t fared much better in Arizona as they prop up the Pacific division and only the Colorado Avalanche (by a considerable margin) have a worse record than them in the entire league. Veteran Radim Vrbata leads the Yotes in points with 48 in 65 games. The Czech winger is in his second spell in the desert and has had his most productive years in the league for the organisation.

Prediction

Arizona and Ottawa have shared the spoils in their last four games. Nevertheless the Senators are the clear favourites for this encounter and there isn’t much value at stake. There has been an average of 7 goals per match in the last 14 games between these two. I envisage the goal horns blaring at least twice in the first period. Some good value on offer at 2.05

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 1.5 goals in the first period at 2.05

Prices correct at time of writing

By @The_Drewse

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