Frozen Assets: Don’t Suffer From Rays Malaise

Posted by Ari in Frozen Assets on December 4, 2009 — No Comments

We are one-third of the way through the NHL season, and nine teams currently occupying playoff spots missed the playoffs last year.

The Buffalo Sabres, Atlanta Thrashers, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars, and Nashville Predators all occupy playoff spots.

The Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and Anaheim Ducks would miss the playoffs if the season ended today.

But the season doesn’t end today.  The Avs are 3-6-4 in their last 13 after opening the season a scorching 12-3-2, and the Bruins are 14-8-5 after starting the season a pedestrian 6-7-1.

Every season produces longshots and overachievers, and bettors must be careful not to place too much emphasis on a team’s prior achievements and pre-season projections, when, at a certain point in the season, a team’s record is its record.

It’s a condition known as Rays Malaise and it led to a handful of  bettors making a lot of money on the Tampa Bay Rays winning the AL East and American League Pennant two years ago.

Yeah I know they are 25 games over .500, but it’s the Rays.

Sports are a team game, and one of the reasons we play/watch/bet on sports, is that anything can happen.  Who thought the Columbus Blue Jackets had a chance to make the playoffs last year?

Eventually bad teams get better.  The Chicago Blackhawks were 60/1 at one sports book at the beginning of last season, and now they are one of the favorites in the Western Conference.

Are any of the NHL’s perennial bottom feeders on the verge of something special?

The New York Islanders have been competitive in nearly every game this season.  The Atlanta Thrashers are one of the highest scoring teams in the league and they are getting great goaltending.  Nashville, led by Pekka Rinne, has been on a tear over the last 11 games.  Phoenix and Los Angeles are well above .500.

It is unlikely that these five teams will make the playoffs, but their past failures shouldn’t prevent you from placing a bet on them at long odds.  Bettors aren’t the only ones that suffer from Rays Malaise.

Here are the best odds on the Islanders, Thrashers, Predators, Coyotes, and Kings.  I would include the Avalanche but (a) they made too much noise at the beginning of the season (and oddsmakers took notice) and (b) they have been slumping lately.

New York Islanders – 100/1 to win the Eastern Conference (Bwin.com)

Atlanta Thrashers – 40/1 to win the Eastern Conference (Bwin.com)

Nashville Predators – 100/1 to win the Stanley Cup (5Dimes.com)

Phoenix Coyotes – 50/1 to win the Western Conference (stanjames.com)

Los Angeles Kings – 22/1 to win the Western Conference (stanjames.com)

There are many games left to play, but remember: at some point in the season, a team’s record is its record.  Your job is to figure out when that is.