Your standard NHL daily roster consists of 18 regular skaters and two goaltenders, yet often the betting odds and outcomes of games are affected by only a few players on each team.
Hockey is still a team sport, but much like baseball, the actions of a few have a tremendous impact on the final results when making NHL picks. With the All-Star break approaching at the end of the month, here are players who in our humble opinion have had the greatest impact on the season to date when doing daily research on the NHL odds at sportsbooks like 5Dimes.
Alex Ovechkin and Bradon Holtby of Washington
It is not a coincidence Washington is leading the Eastern Conference and has been one of the best bets in the NHL all season with these two players. Holtby has been the best all-around goaltender this season, ranked in the Top 4 in goals allowed, save percentage and wins all year. Plus, he unflappable, durable and wants to start every game, even if coach Barry Trotz wants to give him occasional break.
Ovechkin turned 30 back in September and is now in his 11th season. He remains among the top scorers, but his game today is complete and the Capitals have more balanced talent than in the past when it was all or nothing on Ovechkin. This more well-rounded game is seen by having among the best plus/minus numbers in the sport.
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin of Dallas
The leaders in the Western Conference are the Dallas Stars and why they have such a fine record is an electric offense. The catalysts are Benn and Seguin, who have been at or near the top of as scoring leaders and point producers.
Benn plays left wing and is an excellent playmaker along with being a terrific scorer. He is an assassin on the Dallas power play, ranked second in league in goals. Seguin centers the Stars top line and has a knack for finding shooters at the right time with his passes and like Benn, finds the back of the net frequently. Still only 23, how Boston was willing to trade him away because they were not thrilled to his defense is a mystery, but coach Lindy Ruff and Dallas backers are glad he's in Stars uniform.
Patrick Kane of Chicago
As good as Patrick Kane has been with the Blackhawks in helping them win three Stanley Cup's in six years, at 27, he's having his best year ever. Because of salary cap issues, Chicago has been forced to trade very good players for younger, less costly prospects, but they have done their best to keep the core together.
Kane put together a 26-game game scoring streak this season, the longest by an American-born player and the lengthiest such streak in 22 years. And while the Hawks did not always win, he helped keep them afloat and now the rest of the team is coming together, which makes his early contributions really stand out. When opposing teams review scouting reports, how to defend Kane is at the top of the list.
Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo of Florida
Hockey is like all professional sports these days where youth is served. However, Florida's sensational and unbelievable campaign is being driven by an couple of old-timers.
Jaromir Jagr is 43 and has been teaching the younger Panthers players how to prepare to play this game. Once a brash, moody player with Pittsburgh, Jagr now leads by example on and off the ice and has the full attention of everyone in the locker room. Some wondered if he would come back this season on what was thought to be a middling team and only scoring 13 goals. But Jagr already has 14 tallies and is a true leader.
Luongo was chased out of Vancouver and Florida looked like a nice final resting place for a goalie heading towards the end of his career. Yet, the 36-year old looks anything but done, being the only nentminder besides Holtby in the Top 5 in victories, save percentage and goals given up. Luongo benefits from having exceptional young defenders in front of him. If Florida can add one more sniper, this team is legit threat in the East.