By all accounts, the National Hockey League has done very well with its outdoor series of games, which has been ongoing for almost two decades. There have been some colorful venues, and some have produced record crowds, like the 105,000 that packed into Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor to see the Detroit Red Wings play the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Years Day in 2014.
With things the way they are with the pandemic, crowds don't figure much into the picture, which makes it possible for an NHL game to be played on the fairway of a golf course. That will be the case on Saturday, as the Vegas Golden Knights face off against the Colorado Avalanche in Lake Tahoe (Stateline, NV, to be precise).
Marc-Andre Fleury has probably been one of the most popular members of the Golden Knights, but was he "done dirt" by head coach Pete DeBoer? After all, he had been demoted to the #2 slot in goal after the team picked up Robin Lehner at the trade deadline last season.
Fluery, who had swept through to the Stanley Cup once, and had the Knights on the verge of doing that in their first season in the league, only to be stopped short in the finals against Washington.
Not that Lehner is a slouch - he is one of the most formidable netminders in the NHL. But it was thought that the team could not reasonably hold on to both guys at once, if for no other reason than that it put a strain on the salary cap.
But now here comes Fleury again; having been left hanging a little, he is the one who has been hot as a pistol.
With seven victories in his first nine starts, he has to be considered a genuine contender for the Vezina Trophy, with a goals-against of 1.56 and a save percentage of .937, despite his last effort, a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, in which he obviously faltered somewhat.
But he shut out the Avs prior to that, and now he'll be facing them again, this time outdoors, as Vegas and Colorado hook up at a specially-constructed rink on the 18th fairway of the golf course at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Lake Tahoe (Stateline, NV) on Saturday afternoon.
The decision to keep Fleury in goal is made easier by the upper-body injury that is currently sidelining Lehner, who shared the Jennings Trophy with Thomas Griess in a brilliant season for the Islanders two years ago.
Lehner has played four games, with a 2.96 goals-against average and .890 save percentage. DeBoer said "I don't anticipate him traveling."
For what it's worth, Fluery has lost both of the outdoor games he's played in the past, as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bettors must remember that when a team plays outdoors, even though it may be the "host," that does not necessarily mean it has any home ice advantage, simply because it is ice that neither team has played on before. That evens things out a bit.
And that has been the reality, as the road club has actually gone 15-13 in this ongoing series, since the NHL started playing outdoor games in earnest in 2003 (Note: the Rangers have been listed as a 'road' team when playing the Buffalo Sabres in New York, but only because their contract with Madison Square Garden required all home games to be played there; also, when the Rangers played the Islanders and Devils in New York, there was no 'road' team, per se).
It's quirky, we know, but the Avalanche is officially the home team in this game, so you can use your own interpretation vis-a-vis the trend. We're looking elsewhere.
In 16 out of the 30 games, the total has gone under 5.5 goals. And just eight times has it exceeded six.
That's a key for us, because both of these teams have exhibited outstanding defense. In fact, Colorado (2.08) and Vegas (2.14) are 1-2 in the NHL when it comes to giving up the fewest goals.
And as we mentioned, Fleury has, by and large, been hot. The Knights have given up five goals in the last four games.
And guess what? Philipp Grubauer has been even hotter in net for the Avs, allowing five goals in his last five games and more than two in only one of his last ten outings.
On top of that, these teams are both in the top five when it comes to killing off penalties, combining for an 87% success rate.
The weather here is going to be interesting, as it is expected to be in the upper 30s, by no means freezing temperatures. So maybe it's not as heavy a puck as it may have been otherwise. But we still think you'll have an edge in going under the total.
A big part of the services that my marketing company, Blue Pointe Advisors, LLC offers is written content for sports betting websites. I have been working as a full-time sports betting writer for the past nine years following a previous career in the field of sales and marketing.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to write about my true passion in life; the world of sports. I also enjoy concentrating the bulk of my pieces towards the betting angle in sports.
It is always a challenge to take past results and current form to try and correctly determine a future result. Sports brings out the unpredictability in what should be a fairly predictable outcome based on the stats, facts and recent trends in a particular matchup. The one thing that I have learned over the past decade or so is that when it comes to betting on sports there is no such thing as a lock.
The main objective with my writing style is to create insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player. While there are times when my predictions fall well short of the actual outcome, I still enjoy trying to come up with a logical explanation to support my views on every pick I make.
My love of sports started a long time ago when I was just a kid growing up just outside Philadelphia. While I was a big Phillies, Flyers and 76ers fan, my number one team was always the Eagles. My dad was a season ticket holder from 1961 to 2002 and I would honestly say that he missed less than a handful of games than more than a few dismal seasons.
I was fortunate enough to go to a number of Eagles’ games back in the day including the 1980 NFC Championship when Wilbert Montgomery ran roughshod over the bitter rival Dallas Cowboys to lead Philly to their first appearance in a Super Bowl. Flash forward 40 years later and am I still celebrating the thrilling victory over New England in Super Bowl LVII. I know that my dad was smiling down on that one.