NHL All-Star Game betting preview: Why Team Central is the way to go
Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

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Anyone who claims to have the ability to cap the NHL All-Star Game is a cold-blooded liar.

We can analyze all sorts of numbers, break down data, and dive into past All-Star records until our eyes bleed, but truthfully, we don't have a clue.

There's just no way of knowing which players care to be there, which are out for a leisurely skate, who has chemistry with whom, how many were out drinking the night before (or early that morning), and about a thousand other variables we couldn't dream of capping if we tried. It's the All-Star Game, which in hockey talk loosely translates to "vacation." No one actually cares.

Now that we got the disclaimer out of the way, let's pick a winner!

The format for the All-Star Game remains the same as it was last season - a four-team (one per division), three-on-three, single-elimination tournament. The two Eastern Conference divisions - Atlantic and Metropolitan - face off in one game, and the Western Conference divisions - Pacific and Central - clash in the other.

Here are the odds for the two semifinal games, as well as odds for who will win the tournament:

Team Odds Total
Metropolitan +100 Over 12 (-115)
Atlantic -120 Under 12 (-105)
Team Odds Total
Pacific -115 Over 12.5 (-115)
Central -105 Under 12.5 (-105)
Team Odds
Atlantic +200
Pacific +210
Central +240
Metropolitan +290

With the games being three-on-three, regular-season overtime stats are the perfect place to start.

The player with the most overtime goals this season is St. Louis Blues and Central Division forward David Perron (four), who was voted "Last Man In" by fans. No other skater at the All-Star Game has more than two.

Perron highlights a Central Division squad that's had plenty of overtime success this season. Mark Scheifele, Tyler Seguin, and Nathan MacKinnon each have two overtime goals this season, while Team Central have collectively scored 13 - more than any other team.

Leon Draisaitl and Matthew Tkachuk each have two for Team Pacific, which has a total of seven, while Team Atlantic have six (Jack Eichel and Anthony Duclair the leaders with two each). Team Metropolitan are a distant fourth, with only T.J. Oshie and Jaccob Slavin netting overtime goals this season.

If you're concerned about the small sample size, consider this: Team Central's roster also combined for the most overtime goals last season, led by Patrick Kane and Scheifele's three each.

Also working in favor of Team Central is the fact it has four hometown players. Perron is joined by Ryan O'Reilly, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jordan Binnington, all playing in front of their home fans at Enterprise Center.

A first-round matchup against Connor McDavid and the rest of the Pacific Division All-Stars isn't ideal, but there's already some dysfunction surrounding Team Pacific that could prove its undoing.

Stemming from a fiery sequence in the Battle of Alberta two weeks ago, Draisaitl said he and Edmonton Oilers teammate McDavid would get off the ice if they had to play on a line with Tkachuk of the rival Calgary Flames. Trouble in paradise and the games haven't even begun.

The All-Star Game is all about having fun and playing loose, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to envision a scenario where there isn't tension and resentment on the Pacific Division bench. They also come into the weekend without both starting goalies - Marc-Andre Fleury abstaining from participating to rest and Darcy Kuemper missing out due to injury. All these factors make them tough to back at such short odds, just a shade longer than Team Atlantic, the favorites.

Team Atlantic is also dealing with a pair of big absences, with Auston Matthews withdrawing due to a wrist injury and Tuukka Rask pulling out to rest, having just recovered from a concussion. Still, as we've seen with the Metropolitan Division, it could be much worse.

Alexander Ovechkin dropped out of the game to rest, with Team Metropolitan also missing Jake Guentzel, Kyle Palmieri, Artemi Panarin, Dougie Hamilton, and Joonas Korpisalo due to injury. Slavin and Kris Letang were each named replacements, giving Team Metro four defensemen on the roster - no other team has more than two. It's a solid squad, but there's a real lack of star power compared to the other three teams, which makes it a justifiable underdog heading into the tournament.

The best value on the board has to be Team Central, who boast a deliciously skilled roster headlined by MacKinnon and Kane, a wealth of three-on-three success over the past two seasons, and home-ice advantage. It's also the only team not to have anyone drop out or withdraw due to injury.

At +240, you really can't go wrong.

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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NHL All-Star Game betting preview: Why Team Central is the way to go
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