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Welcome back everyone, it's been a treacherous 10 days for me, as I was a bit under the weather and even in the emergency room on Thanksgiving night. But the journey to wellness has been restful, and I'm starting to regain my energy.

Sometimes, it takes a reprieve.

Same can be said in the NHL.

Anyone else notice how the some of the hot hockey teams have kind of come back down to earth.

The only real juggernaut since the start of the season is the Washington Capitals, who I'm pretty sure will hit a lull at some point this season. They'll be another tough out in the postseason, but right now they're holding their own.

But in both conferences the teams I'm thinking of are the Dallas Stars and New York Islanders. Both were explosive and at some point early on carried the tag of "hottest team in the league."

Of late, such is not the case.

The Stars have lost four straight following a six-game win streak. They've been outscored 14-4 during the slide, losing to Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota and Winnipeg. And I'd have to say the only loss I consider to be acceptable is to the Blues. Winnipeg, maybe, but considering how good the Stars were playing, they shouldn't have lost that game 5-1.

With the Islanders, we saw them follow that incredible 17-game point streak by losing three in a row before finally beating Columbus and Detroit, which doesn’t really mean anything. Then they went north to Montreal and lost 4-2. Tonight they have the red-hot Golden Knights in town, and the only good thing is Marc-Andre Fleury is resting.

The bad thing is Malcolm Subban is in, and he's been terrific.

We’re starting to see who the best teams are and who are in the middle of the pack. And why?

Strength of schedule and availability of backup goaltenders.

These are always going to be key points to consider when handicapping hockey. Is a team starting to level off because its schedule is catching up with it? Are these teams going through win streaks against lower-standing teams, and then losing against top-caliber teams? Always important to check.

And this season, we're seeing more and more teams use alternate starting goaltenders, like the Islanders or Coyotes.

If you're looking at a game specifically because of a team on a winning or losing streak, be sure to check why. In hockey, it makes all the difference in the world.


Friday - Arizona at Pittsbrugh: As mentioned, the Coyotes have done an excellent job with their two goaltenders. Both Anti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper have been excellent in net for the Coyotes. The fact either can play the role of starter makes this second of back-to-backs after playing in Philadelphia easier.

Saturday - NY Islanders at Dallas: Here are my streaky teams, facing off in Big D on a Saturday night. The Stars will likely have big Ben Bishop in net, and he's tough to score against. Considering how the Islanders have been playing, they may need to depend on their goaltending as well. Wouldn't be surprised to see a low-scoring game.

Sunday - NY Rangers at Vegas: This could be the first game back for Fleury, who has been gone from the team after the loss of his father. Subban took over in net and helped the team win four straight heading into Thursday. With two days off after the Islanders, the first game back at T-Mobile on a Sunday afternoon, and Fleury in net, this could be a game for his father.

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With rare exceptions, a 100 Dime release is a maximum wager play. 

I think the key for you - my follower - is to know that up front so you then have a simple money management system to adhere to for your own personal wagering scale if you choose to follow my selections.

The amount that you bet is obviously determined on the number of dollars you've allocated to your bankroll for a given day.

With a 100 Dime Max Wager, my ratings and personal bankroll allocations are easy to figure out on a proportional 5 dime incremental scale.

Listen, when I'm winning, I'm going to press the action. It's how you made a good bankrolls better. If I'm losing, you'll know because I'll be backing off the accelerator a bit.

This isn't complicated and the bottom line is that win or lose you're going to see the results from the previous day discussed when the sun shines the next morning because total transparency is demanded at this site, which is no problem for me personally because it's how I've always operated in this business.