Professional All Star games tend not to receive much action at the betting window. But with three games, an over-under, and MVP voting, the NHL All Star Game presents several advantage situations for the savvy hockey bettor.

Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos
Tampa Bay has Nikita Kucherov (left) and Steven Stamkos (right) playing in Sunday’s NHL All Star Game. (Image: Canadian Press)

The unique format calls for the Metropolitan Division to face off against the Atlantic Division, while the Pacific takes on the Central. Each plays two, 10-minute halves of three-on-three hockey, with the winners meeting in the finals. If the game’s tied after two halves, it goes directly to a shootout.

The title game is usually a lower scoring. Last year the semifinals were 10-6 Metropolitans and 10-3 in favor of the Pacific Division. The Metropolitans won the title by a 4-3 score. The Pacific division won the 2016 game, beating the Atlantic ,1-0. The 2018 All Star Game will be the third time played in this format, which widely has been considered a success.

Atlantic Favorites

Sporting a line up with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos as well as Toronto’s Auston Matthews, the Atlantic Division is the favorite to win at +225.

The Pacific and Central are next at +245 and the Metropolitan is last at +255. The Pacific has Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Anze Kopitar from the LA Kings, but don’t have the second-leading scorer on the team. Vegas Golden Knights William Karlsson has 27 goals, second only to Washington’s Alex Ovechkin’s 30 but was not named to the squad.

The Central sports Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Brayden Schenn from St. Louis and Tyler Sequin of Dallas. They also have offense-minded defenseman P.K. Subban.

Last year’s winners will employ Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh and Ovechkin on this year’s team. They are joined by the Islanders John Tavares and Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux.

The Atlantic side stands at a -118 against the Metropolitan, who is at +107. The Central is -103 while the Pacific is the slight favorite at -107.

Scoring Opportunities

With all the firepower and the three-on-three format there should be plenty of goals in the first two games. The over-under for the Metropolitan-Atlantic is set at 12.5, while the Central-Pacific is listed at 12.

Since the format change, the teams have combined for 12.8 goals in the semifinals. It should be right around that number again this year.

The final is a tougher call. The line won’t be set until after the two games are completed, but gamblers should note that the average is four goals per team. Last year’s finals was seven goals so look for a line of eight.

Tight Race for MVP

A pair of Tampa Bay players are favored to win the most valuable player award. Stamkos and teammate Kucherov are a +750, along with Edmonton’s McDavid. The Penquin’s Crosby is next at +800.

The winner most likely will come from the victorious team. Last year Wayne Simmonds scored the game winning goal for the Metropolitan’s victory over the Pacific Division and grabbed the MVP honors.

If you are playing the odds and believe the Atlantic Division will come out on top than Stamkos and Kucherov would be the safe pick to make. A dark horse on that team may be Matthews. He will see significant ice time and may sneak into the conversation. He is listed at +1100.

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