Dave’s Free Play, Thursday 11/20/14

  • November 20, 2014

I’m here to sell the NHL today. This is not about buying my plays, it’a about buying the product that’s currently being offered by what at times in the not so recent past has been referred to as a “garage league”. To be honest, that wasn’t an inaccurate tag. But while the league is far from perfect, the same can be said for the bigger three (NFL, NBA, MLB) and I am very bullish about the direction of the NHL right now.

The league is saddled with a couple of really bad franchises to be sure, and they need to fix that. But what I’m seeing on the ice this year has been close to exceptional. I think the replay system is about as good as it gets when implemented properly. There are some great young players in action now, and more stars are on the way.

Perhaps best of all, thanks to big screens and high-def TV, it’s no longer an exercise in futility to try and follow the action. Even for a lifer like myself who’s been around the game for more than a half century, I had to admit that the game lost a ton in translation from in person to home viewing, but that has now dramatically changed. I no longer have to be sitting rinkside to enjoy what’s taking place on the ice.

Full disclosure, this is all about doing whatever I can to help Las Vegas secure an NHL franchise. I’ve always felt the NHL was a good fit for this city, and with a brand new arena now under construction, the NHL and Las Vegas are a marriage that needs to happen. It would be great for the city to finally land an actual major league franchise. The market is sizable enough to support it, and fans of other teams, particularly those in lousy weather locales, will schedule vacations to coincide with their team’s visits to Las Vegas. But make no mistake, whatever league lands here first is going to have a huge advantage over the next arrival, and I’m not positive the city can support both the NHL and the NBA. So it’s in the NHL’s best interests to get a franchise here quickly, and if they can do so in time to help open the new arena, that’s even better.

I don’t care whether it’s an expansion franchise or one that already exists (hello, Panthers?) but the time is right for the city to go big league. Of course, there’s one caveat here. The NHL must incorporate a 21st century mentality and not sweat the legal sports wagering. If they fight that and insist that the games involving the local franchise not be available to the sports books, they’re dead before they even play one game. This is really important, NHL. If you go that route, you’re going to alienate a substantial segment of your potential local base that will look upon this as an insult to the way we do things here. Do not make that mistake. Beyond that, it’s archaic thinking that has no basis in reality.

Anyway, while the NHL to Las Vegas is not yet a reality, there’s ample reason to be very optimistic that they’re on the way. As far s as I’m concerned, the sooner the better!

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2-0 Wednesday with Siena and Gonzaga, so that’s 8-1 the last two nights and all is right with the world again. Gonzaga was possibly the easiest winner I’ve ever had. As for Siena, the final margin was three with the underdog Saints winning outright. But if you want an illustration of how quickly things can go nuts in a basketball game. consider this. Siena led by 12 with about 20 ticks remaining and won by three. St. Bonaventure went on a 9-0 run just that quickly, as they nailed a trio of treys and the Saints missed a couple free throws.

My College Game of the Year is now available. If you want to buy it directly from me, there are two options. One is to purchase either the weekly or monthly package, which includes all my plays across the board. The current special is two months for the price of one, and you can subscribe easily via the “buy now” option on this page.

If you only want the one game, it’s available at pregame.com, jimwins.info, the swami.com, and vegasinsider.com. Those sites set the prices so you can choose your favorite or shop around. Personally, I don’t really recommend the all the eggs in one basket approach, but that’s up to each individual.

The current college football card, by the way, is seven deep. I’ve also got two college hoops games I’m set on for today, as well as an NHL play. Whether or not there will be any adds is unknown right now, but the yes would be a favorite.

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Since I focused on the NHL in today’s commentary, I will got the hockey route for the free play as well. Note there is no current line on this game, but if the price is right and I’ve got the right goalies, it will end up being added to my personal card. I’ll update that at some point on Twitter (@davecokin).

11/20 7:05 PM   NHL  (67) ANAHEIM DUCKS  at  (68) VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Take: (67) ANAHEIM DUCKS

Following a spectacular start to the season, things have leveled off somewhat of late for the Ducks. But I see Anaheim being in a good spot to garner a road win tonight as they head to Vancouver.

There’s good news on the injury/illness front for Anaheim. Corey Perry returned to action on Sunday, and they will apparently get Francois Beauchemin back to bolster the blue line tonight. It also looks good for Devante Smith-Pelly, who has been doing a good job for the Ducks in spite of being well under the radar.

Vancouver played at Edmonton last night and managed to come away with a 5-4 win as Ryan Miller raised his career record against the Oilers to an amazing 11-0. But on each of the previous four instances where the Canucks have had to go back to back, Eddie Lack has gotten call on night number two. Lack is an okay goalie, but he’s a downgrade from Miller and the Canucks are only 1-3 when he starts.

I think Vancouver might has one of the more misleading records in the league thus far. They’re really a very average team in numerous categories, and while they’re getting by pretty well, I’m not sure they’re more than a back end of the conference playoff entry, if even that.

The Ducks are having some issues once the game gets past 60 minutes, so they might need to win this in regulation. But they grade out as the superior squad here by a pretty decent margin, and they have a definite scheduling advantage going their way tonight. Freddy Andersen has done stellar work in goal, and while it’s very small sample, he sure seems to like playing against the Canucks.

It’s all about the stats I focus on and the scheduling and those factors nearly all indicate Anaheim as the side tonight. I’ll be looking to play the Ducks tonight as long as the price is right and there’s no bad news on the lineup front.