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PHT Oddsmaker: Let’s gamble on the NHL

New York Rangers v New York Islanders

UNIONDALE, NY - OCTOBER 15: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders scores at 11:47 of the second period against the New York Rangers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 15, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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PHT Oddsmaker will be a regular feature where we set pretend odds and pretend to gamble on them. If you’d like to bet real money, meet us in the alley and we’ll talk.

Total points for John Tavares (O/U 79.5)

Only nine NHLers had 80 points or more in 2010-11, but I’d still take the over here. Tavares is as natural a scorer as there is in the game today. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who had 72 goals and 134 points in the OHL as a 16-year-old. There’s a reason he was taken first overall in 2009. And with eight points in the Islanders’ first four games, he’s well ahead of the pace it would take to surpass last year’s total of 67 points. He’s also got a great thing going with linemates Matt Moulson and P.A. Parenteau, whose own lofty stats might be the finest proof of Tavares’ talent.

Columbus coach Scott Arniel fired by Christmas (2/1)

Would things be different if James Wisniewski hadn’t been suspended for the first eight games of the regular season? Maybe. The Blue Jackets (0-5-1) are 2-for-30 with the man advantage and Wisniewski is one of the premier power-play specialists in the league. But if things don’t turn around dramatically, GM Scott Howson will have a decision to make (if he’s still around to make it). Arniel failed to lead the Jackets to the playoffs last season, his first behind the bench, and if they don’t make it this time around, Howson’s chances of keeping his job won’t be very good. You do the math. I’ll stay away from this one, because I don’t like to bet on people getting fired. Bad karma.

Dallas Stars to make the playoffs (5/1)

Pretty tempting odds considering Dallas (5-1-0) is tied with Colorado (5-1-0) for first place in the Western Conference. What the heck, I’ll throw a few bucks on that. The Stars are obviously going to miss Brad Richards, and there’s not much chance Kari Lehtonen finishes the season with a 1.58 goals-against average and .953 save percentage. Not to mention, Dallas has played a relatively easy schedule so far. But I’m willing to give a team with players like Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn a shot to turn $20 into $100. If it pays off, dinner’s on PHT.