LAS VEGAS — Soon after the Golden Knights acquired 25-year-old center Jack Eichel from the Sabres in November, South Point owner Michael Gaughan, during his regular appointment, asked John the Barber about the trade.
Sons of Vegas pioneers, casino patrons and friends flock to the property’s barbershop for hockey insight from John Taddio, NHL soothsayer and expert puck prognosticator.
‘‘They won’t do well,’’ Taddio told Gaughan, 79, son of the late mogul Jackie Gaughan. ‘‘They’ll fall apart. They won’t play together. Lines will be changed. Players won’t feel good about the money this guy is getting.
‘‘You won’t see Vegas in the playoffs.’’
Eichel’s $10 million-a-season contract runs through 2026. He underwent artificial disk replacement surgery in his neck and played his first game for the Knights in mid-February. The Knights lost four of five with him on the ice.
The Blackhawks eliminated Vegas from the playoffs Wednesday night. It was the Knights’ seventh loss in 10 games. It was their third consecutive shootout defeat, and they were 0-for-18 in those three shootouts
The Knights missed the playoffs for the first time in their five seasons, pleasing many transplants from hockey hotbeds — like sportsbook pal Minnesota Paul — who despised their expansion-draft favoritism.
The Knights capped their inaugural campaign by finishing three victories shy of winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, when the Capitals won it. Those transplants, some of whose long-established teams never have lifted Lord Stanley’s hardware, also resented that instant success. They cheer loudly for their foes.
‘‘This season, they had a rhythm, a good system, good lines, but they lost their harmony,’’ Taddio said Monday. ‘‘[Eichel] got lots of ice time, and there was some dissension that [management] wanted the puck passed to him.’’
Power-play incompetence and a musical-chairs fiasco at goalie since dealing Marc-Andre Fleury also plagued the Knights.
Taddio, in his mid-70s, shelved betting the NHL for 40 days for Lent, giving the sportsbooks a breather. But he never stopped watching the games.
He watches almost every game, picture-in-picture, on television. Driving to and from work, he has the NHL channel on SiriusXM.
In the seven days since returning to wagering, Taddio netted nearly $10,000. When the Sharks trailed the Knights by two late Sunday, he live-bet them at 10-1, then +700, to win the game.
The Stanley Cup playoffs begin Monday, and Taddio suggests the Blues (20-1) and Stars (30-1) for long-shot seekers.
He is sticking with his preseason choice of the Panthers (30-1 in July at the South Point, now 4-1) to win it all, and he sees the Panthers beating the Avalanche (7-5 odds) in the Stanley Cup Finals.
‘‘Florida is a machine, just unreal,’’ he said. ‘‘I see no weaknesses with the Panthers.’’
HORRENDOUS MLB HITTING
I waited the usual month into the major-league season to glean betting information, most interested in how the designated hitter has affected five-inning Unders in the National League.
That tack, involving two above-average starting pitchers, and full-game Overs — with two poor starters and at least one poor or pooped bullpen — comprise the foundation of my baseball schemes.
Until this season, a pitcher hitting at least twice for each side in an NL game had been the Under Five-punter’s best friend. Well, the DH in the NL has been milquetoast.
That teams are batting a pathetic .231, the worst in the history of a game that started in 1871, is the bigger picture.
The per-team average of 4.06 runs will threaten 1976’s 3.99, the last time teams averaged fewer than four runs. Through Tuesday, full games had finished Under at a 59.2% clip (145-100-14).
Comparing five-inning average runs in teams’ games to last season, via TeamRankings.com, shows I’m focused on the wrong league.
Five-inning Unders in the American League have been the path to profit. And of its eight five-inning changes of consequence from 2021, seven involve Unders.
Games involving the Orioles (5.72 runs last season to 3.59) and Twins (5.71 to 3.88) have dipped dramatically. The Twins play four games in Baltimore starting Tuesday, and my five-inning figure is 3.74 (3.59 + 3.88 ÷ 2).
At Under 4½ or 5, I’m golden. Cold math eliminates personal bias. After two months, starting pitchers’ past-five performances become a key metric.
The White Sox and Red Sox also fit my five-inning Under template, and they tangle next weekend at Fenway Park. Games of both have been averaging 4.03 runs over five innings. With a 5 or 5½ total, I will have Under action.
The Diamondbacks’ five-inning total runs are also down drastically, from 5.19 to 3.28. They play three games against the Marlins (4.32) in Miami starting Monday. At 4½ or 5, a five-inning Under is the smart move.
KEY FIVE-INNING OVERS
In Arlington, Texas, five-inning Rangers totals have exploded from 5.15 to 6.82. Angels games have maintained the 5.5 of last season.
Playing five-inning Overs blindly in their recent series in Arlington would have produced a 3-0-1 wagering record. They meet again in Arlington for three games in the middle of May.
In the NL, the Cubs (5.66 to 6.65) and Pirates (5.08 to 6.47) have experienced boosts in their five-inning game totals.
A typical five-inning total is 4 or 4½. In the teams’ recent series at Wrigley, the Friday game was 4 and the Saturday and Sunday games were 5½. No matter, because at least six runs were scored in the first five innings of all three games.
Even better, the Over price all three days was Even. Heed this May 16-18, when the Pirates return to Wrigley.