Stanley Cup Betting Guide: Daily Updates to Help You Formulate Your NHL Picks

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, April 18, 2015 12:37 PM GMT

Saturday, Apr. 18, 2015 12:37 PM GMT

Each day throughout the NHL playoffs we will update you with previews for the games each night and look for angles that will help us with our NHL picks.

29th APR
NHL Playoffs: Wednesday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

7:35 PM ET Red Wings vs. Lightning (series tied 3-3)
The Red Wings have alternated wins and losses in this series with the Lightning and are hoping the pattern stays true to form after their 5-2 defeat at home in Game 6 Monday night. The Lightning finally found their offensive groove when they put on a dominating performance led by diminutive center Tyler Johnson who found the back of the net twice en route to their series salvaging victory.

Fortunately for the Wings, winning on Tampa’s home ice has not been too tall a task. Detroit came away with victories at the Amalie Arena in Games 1 (3-2) and 5 (4-0) and are hoping to do the same in this all-important Game 7. In their last trip to Tampa the Red Wings were backboned by a superb effort by 23-year-old Czech goaltender Petr Mrazek who stoned the Lightning and contributed immensely to the 4-0 Game 5 victory. Mrazek did not have the same success in Game 6 as Tampa Bay jumped out to a 3-0 lead but did have an eye-popping save on Lightning center Brian Boyle who had a wide open net only to be defied by an acrobatic save by the young Detroit netminder.

Youwager.com is offering NHL betting odds on the Lightning -185 to win tonight’s Game 7 and move on to the next round. The last time Tampa went to a Game 7 was in 2011 when they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round but then were themselves defeated in seven games by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Don't forget to check out our NHL picks for more updates & free picks!

 

 

27th APR
NHL Playoffs: Monday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

7:05 PM ET Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings (Red Wings lead series 3-2)       
The Red Wings not only bounced back from a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat in Game 4 they rolled to a dominating 4-0 victory in Tampa Bay as +165 underdogs led by an outstanding 28-save performance by 23-year-old Petr Mrazek, his second shutout of the series. Mrazek has dispelled any goaltending controversy that could very well have manifested had he performed less than spectacularly against the Lightning. Detroit’s mainstay between the pipes has been Jimmy Howard but Mrazek was riding the hot hand headed into the postseason which is why he was selected over the veteran Howard. Because of his stellar efforts the Wings have only one more game to win in order to close out the series.

It was expected that the Lightning would blitz the Wings with an offense that was ranked 1st in the league during the regular season. Two major contributors to that juggernaut are Steve Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov but neither has scored so far in this series. In addition, the Lightning has only converted two of 24 power play opportunities which is alarming for a team that possesses so many weapons in their arsenal.

Tonight’s game will be held at the Joe Louis Arena and the house should be rocking. Detroit has split their previous two games at home in the series with a 3-0 victory in Game 3 and a 3-2 loss in Game 4.

The Red Wings are -106 in NHL odds from BetOnline

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7:35 PM ET New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals (series tied 3-3)
The Islanders have pushed this series to the limit with a 3-1 Game 6 victory at home but now must travel to the nation’s capital where they won the opener 4-1 but dropped their next two in Washington. The last time these franchises met in a final game it turned out to be the longest Game 7 in history with the Islanders getting the victory in a fourth overtime courtesy of Pat Lafontaine way back in 1987.

But that game has absolutely no bearing on tonight’s contest which has been as evenly matched as the 101 points each club garnered during the regular season. Both teams have scored exactly 14 goals apiece and the difference between the two just may come down to home ice advantage. The Islanders have won only one game in Washington while dropping a pair in this series but if they are to advance they will have to block out the noise and crack the wall of Caps goalie Braden Holtby. The young netminder has been outstanding posting a 1.75 goals against average in the six playoff contests while the Capitals penalty killing unit has stymied New York and kept the Isles scoreless on all 13 occasions.

Washington is a mere 2-7 in Game 7’s played at home in their franchise history while the Islanders are chomping at the bit to return to the Nassau Coliseum and extend not only their playoff run but the Coliseum’s as well. The Isles are scheduled to move out of the old building and into Brooklyn starting next season.

If that is to be accomplished they will have to rely on three players with postseason experience. Johnny Boychuk helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in a crucial Game 7 against the Canucks in 2011 while his fellow defenseman Nick Leddy contributed to Chicago’s Game 7 win over Detroit. Netminder Jaroslav Halak won a pair of Game 7’s in 2010 when he tending the twine for the Canadiens. All three will be relied upon heavily to overcome the Caps in Washington tonight.

Wagerweb.com has Detroit-135 in NHL betting odds tonight.

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26th APR
NHL Playoffs: Sunday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

3:00 PM ET Blues vs. Wild (Wild lead series 3-2)
Like a pair of heavyweight fighters always looking for the knockout punch, the Blues and Wild don't just win, they prove a point.  In what has been arguably the most physical series in the postseason it also the only series not to be decided by any one goal games.  Home ice advantage has not meant much either as each team has won decidedly on the road in this series. 

Predictable is hardly a word that anyone can use to accurately describe this Central Division clash.  The Blues stunned the Wild on Wednesday night with a 6-1 drubbing where they chased Minnesota netminder Devan Dubnyk from the cage and onto the bench after lighting him up for six goals on 17 shots.  It appeared the momentum had swung precipitously in the Blues' favor as they were coming off a dominating performance, snapped their nine-game postseason road losing streak and were headed back to St. Louis for Game 5. 

But then the Wild, installed as +120 underdogs in NHL odds, turned that momentum around and handed the Blues a 4-1  defeat and are now in command of the series 3-2 as it heads to Minnesota tonight. Oh, and as for the Devan Dubnyk who was banished to the bench in Game 4, all he did was turn aside 36 shots in Game 5 and was named the number one star. 

The Blues are desperately trying to avoid getting ousted from the playoffs in the first round for the third consecutive year.  They would get a boost if Finnish forward Jori Lehtera is able to overcome a lower body injury that kept him out of Game 5 and suit up for tonight's pivotal contest.

The NHL betting odds on Game 6 feature the Wild -140 as home favorites this afternoon.

 

6:00 PM ET Canadiens vs. Senators (Canadiens lead series 3-2)
Everyone outside of Ottawa expected the Senators to lay down in Game 5 after they staved off a sweep in Game 4 with a gallant performance and a 1-0 victory at home.  The script was written, the Habs would return to the Bell Centre where they would be welcomed home like conquering heroes and then dispose of the Senators who lasted one game longer than Canadiens' fan had hoped. 

But then a funny thing  happened.  Well not so funny if you're prone to wearing Canadiens' gear or if you bet them blindly in your NHL picks on Friday night.  The Senators tuned out the raucous Canadiens' crowd and turned up the heat on their archrivals leading to a stunning 5-1 victory off a 45 save effort by Craig Anderson.  In a contest where Montreal's Carey Price is supposed to be the show, Anderson has stepped in after replacing Andrew Hammond and been a brick wall for Ottawa.  The vastly underrated and unheralded Anderson has stopped 120 of 123 shots since he took the reins from Hammond.  This isn't the first time the veteran netminder has backstopped the Senators to victory over the Canadiens.  In 2013 he did just that for Ottawa by eliminating the Habs in the opening round of the playoffs that year.

Even Montreal's P.K. Subban is singing Anderson's praises.

"You have to give their goaltender credit," Subban said. "He made some big saves. We did an OK job of taking his eyes away, but you have to do a great job of that to score in the playoffs, especially against a great goaltender. He's hot right now. He's seeing all the pucks and making big saves for them. He's got the hot hand, and he's riding that."

Ottawa's left wing Clarke MacArthur was injured in Friday's contest and his status is unclear for Game 6 tonight.

The Ottawa Senators -125 are the favorite in NHL odds this evening.

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25th APR
NHL Playoffs: Saturday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

3:05 PM ET Capitals vs. Islanders (Capitals lead series 3-2)
The Washington Capitals have no desire to return home - at least not in this series. The Caps turned up the heat in their Game 5 encounter with the Islanders by thrashing New York 5-1 and is now only one win away from ending the series. Tonight they travel to Long Island and will attempt to close out the series.

In a game where Washington notched five goals you would expect at least one of those would belong to Alexander Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom. But the star of the game proved to be 22-year-old Russian rookie Evegeny Kuznetsov who tallied twice and added an assist to lead his team to the pivotal victory.

After allowing five goals on 35 shots the Isles pulled starting goalie Jaroslav Halak with 11 minutes remaining but to pin the loss on him would not be fair. The Islanders inability to repel the withering offensive attack by the Caps is the chief reason why they trail in the series. Tonight New York will need to ramp up a power play that has been impotent thus far, failing to score in 12 opportunities.

Pinnacle Sports is offering NHL betting odds of Islanders -125 tonight.

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6:05 PM ET Red Wings vs. Lightning (series tied 2-2)
They say good things come in small packages and that's exactly what the Tampa Bay Lightning have in 24-year-old center Tyler Johnson. Trailing by a 2-0 score in Game 4 with little more than five minutes remaining Johnson ignited a Lightning rally by lighting the lamp for Tampa's first goal, assisting on Ondrej Palat's equalizer and then scored the game winner in overtime.

The key to containing Johnson appears to be Red Wings center Luke Glendening. Glendening left Game 4 with a hand injury with only seven minutes remaining and shortly thereafter, with his shadow banished to the trainer's table, Johnson went wild. Glendening is slated to return for Game 5 tonight.

The NHL odds offered by Pinnacle Sports have the Lightning as -183 home favorites.

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8:00 PM ET Predators vs. Blackhawks (Blackhawks lead series 3-2)
The Predators are hoping rookie Filip Forsberg makes it on to the scorer's sheet tonight because when he does the they win but when he doesn't, well let's just say it's not a happy Nashville locker room. Forsberg was immense on Thursday night when he beat Hawks stellar netminder Scott Darling twice and deposited the fifth goal dagger into an empty net.

But the venue now shifts to the Windy City where the Blackhawks have not lost this season to the Predators. They are 4-0 including the regular season when they host Nashville and have outscored them 14-9. Stalwart Predators' defenseman Shea Weber has been ruled out for tonight and the series.

Pinnacle Sports has installed Chicago -160 in their NHL odds tonight.

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9:00 PM ET Canucks vs. Flames (Flames lead series 3-2)
The last game of today's NHL slate will pit the Calgary Flames against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks would have been making vacation plans had it not been for the heroics of Nick Bonino who tied the game 1-1 in the second period and Daniel Sedin who kept the series alive with a game winner early in the final period. Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller made his first start and backstopped the 2-1 victory with 20 saves while rookie Eddie Lack looked on from the bench.

The Flames allowed over 40 shots in Game 5 for only the sixth time this season. Calgary goaltender Jonas Hiller turned aside 41 shots but it was not enough. The Flames will need to go back to their shot-blocking ways if they are to continue their home ice domination over Vancouver tonight.

BetOnline is offering NHL odds of the Calgary Flames -126 in tonight's contest.

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24th APR

NHL Playoffs: Friday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

7:05 PM ET Penguins vs. Rangers (Rangers lead series 3-1)
The Penguins are facing yet another early elimination from the postseason and realize that last year they had a 3-1 series advantage over the Rangers and still lost but now down 3-1 the chances of winning the next three seem insurmountable. If they are to keep this series alive they will need to pressure New York in their own zone and simply get more shots on net.

Speaking of shots on net it appears that the Rangers are once again riding solid defense in shutting down the superstars on the Penguins roster, Evgeni Malkin in particular, and getting lights-out goaltending by the inestimable Henrik Lundqvist. The All-Star veteran goaltender has a .957 save percentage over the last two games and has claimed victory in six of his last seven starts when facing Pittsburgh while posting a 1.42 goals against average in those seven contests.

If the Pens are to have any shot tonight they will need to crack the code that is Henrik Lundqvist as they did in the second game of the series when they won 4-3 at Madison Square Garden.

Pinnacle is offering NHL odds of -185 on the Rangers tonight.

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7:05 PM ET Senators vs. Canadiens (Canadiens lead series 3-1)
The Senators avoided a series sweep at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night by getting a sparkling 28-save performance out of one of the most underrated goaltenders in all of hockey, Craig Anderson. Anderson took over the netminding chores from Andrew Hammond in the Senators’ Game 3 overtime loss and came right back with another stellar effort in Ottawa leading his team to a 1-0 victory amidst a sea of cheering fans bedecked in Senators’ colors.

Left winger Mike Hoffman notched the only goal needed in Game 4 but it will be back to business tonight as the Senators travel to the Bell Centre. Ottawa has not been thoroughly outplayed by Montreal in the series losing every game by just a goal with two of those losses occurring in the overtime frame. But it is no small coincidence that the only game in which they outshot Montreal resulted in victory. They will have to do more of the same if they are to have any chance of avoiding elimination this evening.

BetDSI.com is offering NHL betting odds of Montreal -165 in tonight’s matchup.

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9:35 PM ET Wild vs. Blues (series tied at 2-2)
In a series featuring two teams as closely matched as this the dominating 6-1 performance by the Blues in Game 4 was remarkable. Down 2-1 in the series St. Louis caught fire on Wednesday night and silenced the Wild crowd. Vladimir Tarasenko tallied twice while Kevin Shattenkirk added three helpers to run his assists to 11 over his last eight games.

Perhaps the biggest difference in this game was the Blues returning to their bruising form. They hit early and often and outmuscled Minnesota limiting them to just 18 shots of which only one connected. The Blues will now be returning home to the Scottrade Center where they look to carry their momentum in front of their adoring fans.

While Blues netminder Jake Allen has been solid throughout, the Wild’s Devan Dubnyk may have just begun to feel the effects of a heavy workload which started when he was acquired by Minnesota from Arizona for a third-round pick back in January. Dubnyk led the Minnesota revival into the postseason winning 26 of 34 starts and registering .939 save percentage. But in this series Dubnyk’s numbers have plummeted to a .864 save percentage and was chased for the first time in the Game 4 blowout.

Betonline.com is offering NHL odds of St. Louis -140 tonight.

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23 APR
NHL Playoffs: Thursday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

7:00 PM ET Lightning vs. Red Wings (Red Wings lead series 2-1)
Detroit’s head coach Mike Babcock had somewhat of a goaltending controversy on his hands when the series began. Jimmy Howard had been a mainstay between the pipes for Detroit but rookie Petr Mrazek has owned the Lightning and was riding the hot hand as the postseason commenced while Howard was returning from a lengthy injury.  

Therefore it was no easy task to stick the rookie back into the fire after he struggled mightily in a 5-1 Game 2 loss where he allowed four goals on only 18 shots. He was subsequently relieved by Howard who allowed one goal the rest of the way. But Mrazek rebounded with another stonewall performance as he blanked the Lightning 3-0 in Game 3 and has now put his team in a position to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Mrazek will be back patrolling the crease tonight and the NHL odds say that this one is a virtual coin flip.

Betonline.com is offering NHL odds of Detroit -109 tonight.

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7:00 PM ET Islanders vs. Capitals (series tied 2-2)
After alternating wins and losses the Islanders would be perfectly content to see that pattern hold true tonight. In Game 4 they squandered the opportunity to pull in front with a 3-1 series lead and instead left Long Island with the series knotted at two games apiece as they head to the nation’s capital to take on Washington.

While all eyes have been on Alexander Ovechkin the true stars of this series for Washington have been goaltender Braden Holtby and center Nicklas Backstrom. Holtby suffered an agonizing 2-1 overtime defeat in Game 3 after turning aside 40 of 42 shots but maintained his stellar play and earned a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 4 stopping 36 of 37 shots. Backstrom has been immense this series registering six points in four games and scoring the winning overtime goal on Tuesday night. The Caps are now 6-2 in their last eight playoff games dating back to last season.

The NHL odds at Pinnacle have Washington -129 tonight.

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9:30 PM ET Blackhawks vs. Predators (Blackhawks lead series 3-1)
The Blackhawks have pushed the Predators to the brink and will try to close out the series in Nashville tonight after a triple-overtime thriller in which Chicago prevailed 3-2 on a laser beam from the point off the stick of defenseman Brent Seabrook. Chicago rookie netminder Scott Darling had 50 saves in the critical win.

The series returns to Nashville tonight where the Predators hope to keep the series alive and will look to continue to assail the Chicago goal with shots from anywhere and everywhere. Nashville has played the Hawks dead even with 13 goals apiece in the series but have outshot their opponents by an average of 44.5 to 36.5. But thanks to the heroics of the rookie Darling the Hawks hold the formidable series lead and could wrap it up tonight in Nashville.

The NHL odds have installed Nashville -115 according to BetDSI.com.

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10:00 PM ET Flames vs. Canucks (Flames lead series 3-1)
The Canucks return home hoping to stave off elimination after dropping a 3-1 decision on Tuesday night. Vancouver could very well switch netminders from Eddie Lack to the veteran Ryan Miller for this crucial Game 5. Miller stopped all 15 shots in Game 4 after Lack was chased after surrendering three goals on just seven shots.

In addition it appears Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows will not be in service for the remainder of the series after injuring himself in a morning skate prior to Game 3. The Canucks have lost seven of their last eight home playoff contests and if that streak continues they will be making early vacation plans.

Pinnacle’s NHL odds have the Canucks as -147 betting favorites to keep the series alive.

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22 APR
NHL Playoffs: Wednesday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

7:00 PM ET Canadiens vs. Senators (Canadiens lead series 3-0)
The Canadiens have trailed after the opening period in each of the three playoff games thus far but they can’t argue with the results as they stand one game away from disposing of the Ottawa Senators. Despite their first period malaise the Canadiens have rebounded by outscoring the Sens 9-4 thereafter, including a pair of overtime victories. Therefore this series has not been a walk in the park for the Habs and tonight in Ottawa should be no different as the Senators are backed into the proverbial corner looking desperately for a way out.

The Canadiens may be slight underdogs tonight according to the NHL odds but their chances of winning the series are formidable. In 35 all-time playoff situations when the Montreal is up 3-0 they have never lost a series while only four teams in the history of the NHL have been able to scale that prodigious mountain to rally four wins and claim the series. Ottawa has their sights set on doing exactly that starting tonight.

BetDSI.com has installed the Senators as -115 favorites in NHL betting odds tonight.

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7:00 PM ET Rangers vs. Penguins (Rangers lead series 2-1)
If the Penguins are to head back to Madison Square Garden with the series tied then they must prevent the Rangers from striking early. New York has been adept at drawing first blood forcing Pittsburgh to play catchup throughout the game. Case in point was their last meeting Monday night when the Rangers built a 2-0 lead and played defense the rest of the way with Pittsburgh only managing what turned out to be a meaningless goal in the third period.

If the Penguins are indeed trailing in the final 20 minutes then their prospects of evening the series are gloomy to say the least. They had an 0-18-5 record when trailing after two periods and that dubious record did not change in their two losses in the postseason against the Rangers.

The NHL odds at Pinnacle.com have the Rangers installed as -116 betting favorites tonight.

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9:30 PM ET Blues vs. Wild (Wild lead series 2-1)
Speed and discipline resulted in a 3-0 Game 3 victory and a 2-1 series lead for the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota understands the nature of their opponent which is why they have skated away from confrontation and have maintained their composure. That blueprint went a long way towards ensuring their penalty free Game 3 win and is certain to be part and parcel of their strategy tonight.

The 6’6” Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk didn’t have a whole lot of work to do in his club’s Monday night victory but he did turn aside all 17 shots that he faced. Because St. Louis is facing a critical situation tonight you can be sure Dubnyk will be called upon to stop anything and everything the Blues can muster.

Blues’ coach Ken Hitchcock is keenly aware that his top line of Alexander Steen, Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko was on the ice for all of Minnesota’s goal Monday night and will try to outwit Wild coach Mike Yeo who has the home team’s advantage vis a vis shift changes which has seen Minnesota’s checking line douse the firepower of the Blues’ top line.

Pinnacle.com has NHL odds of Minnesota -135 tonight.

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9:30 PM ET Ducks vs. Jets (Ducks lead series 3-0)
Despite a three-goal outburst in the second period of Monday night’s Game 3 affair the Jets fell 5-4 in overtime and are now trying to avoid an early dismissal from the postseason. To top it all off the anguish of postseason futility still lingers like a foul odor as the Jets have yet to win a single game in their franchise playoff history.

The Jets cannot seem to contain the Ducks in their defensive zone while offensively their leading scorer Andrew Ladd (62 regular season points) has surprisingly been held off the scorer’s sheet in this series which is in stark contrast to his six goals in seven meetings with Anaheim before the playoffs began.

The NHL odds at BetDSI.com have the Jets -125 as the betting favorite tonight.

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21 APR
NHL Playoffs: Tuesday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

7:00 PM ET Lightning vs. Red Wings (series tied 1-1)
After their series opener in which the Lightning launched a furious offensive assault only to come up empty against a Red Wings team that connected on 3 of just 14 shots, the  NHL betting odds in Game 2 soared on Tampa Bay from an opening line of -170 to north of -200 when the puck finally dropped. That steam proved prescient as the Lightning scorched the Wings 5-1 on Saturday night.

The series is now tied at one game apiece but the venue shifts to Detroit where the Red Wings have not exactly thrived. Detroit’s home record is a marginal 22-19 but the heavy lumber they have been laying has cost their backers -10.6 units at home. But even though the Wings have not been home ice warriors this season they can take heart that the Lightning has the fewest points on the road of the 16 playoff teams. Tampa Bay registered an unimpressive 18-23 road record and cost their backers -9.7 units.

This game is a veritable coin flip as Detroit is -110 at BetDSI

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7:30 PM ET Capitals vs. Islanders (Islanders lead series 2-1)
The Isles were looking for a road sweep after winning Game 1 decidedly but were edged 4-3 in Game 2 by the Capitals. However they rebounded with a narrow 2-1 victory on Sunday in front of the friendly faces at the Nassau Coliseum. New York outshot Washington 42-25 and now leads the series 2-1 where they will again enjoy home ice advantage tonight.

Perhaps the biggest story in this series has been the lack of production out of Washington’s phenom Alexander Ovechkin. The Capital’s captain has only one goal in the three series games and has not lit the lamp in a road playoff game since April 30th, 2012. Former Bruin Johnny Boychuk has been charged with blanketing Ovechkin and thus far has done an admirable job. He will need to do so again if the Islanders are to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

The NHL odds being offered have the Islanders -130 at Pinnacle

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9:30 PM ET Predators vs. Blackhawks (Blackhawks lead series 2-1)
The Blackhawks are officially in control of this series by stealing the home ice advantage they lost away from the Predators and are now seeking a 3-1 series lead. But they will have to rely on rookie goalie Scott Darling to get the job done yet again who has been as much a surprise in net as Corey Crawford has been disappointing. Darling will get the assignment tonight after he backstopped the Hawks to a 4-2 victory in Game 3 on Sunday.

The Preds will again be without 6’4” defenseman Shea Weber who has been sidelined with an injury but will be counting on netminder Pekka Rinne to round into form after less than stellar play in this series. Rinne has allowed a total of 10 goals resulting in a 3.33 goals against average and a .898 save percentage. The Blackhawks are 6-2 (+1.5 units) against the Predators in games played in Chicago over the past three seasons.

The NHL odds have the Blackhawks as -150 favorites at Pinnacle

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10:00 PM ET Canucks vs. Flames (Flames lead series 2-1)
The Flames are hoping their momentum from a 4-2 victory on Sunday will carry over into tonight when they enjoy home ice advantage again in their first round playoff tussle with the Vancouver Canucks. In this rugged series replete with fighting majors and penalties galore the Flames have won their last four games at home and will look to do so again tonight at the Saddledome.

The Flames have now defeated the Canucks in four of their past five meetings dating back to the regular season. The Sedin brothers have been virtually silent combining for only one goal and one assist in those five games. Speaking of silent, Calgary’s regular season points leader Jiri Hudler has been held completely off the scorer’s sheet in the series and has a -4 plus/minus rating.

The NHL odds favor the Flames -116 at Pinnacle

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20 APR
NHL Playoffs: Monday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

7:00 PM ET Rangers vs. Penguins (series tied 1-1)
The Penguins salvaged a split at Madison Square Garden courtesy of a three goal explosion in Saturday’s game that culminated in a 4-3 Pittsburgh victory. Sidney Crosby paved the way for the Penguins with a pair of goals and will now return to their home ice to try to upset the NHL Odds favorites in this series. Penalties have been a surprising concern for Pittsburgh as they are known to be a finesse team rather than an undisciplined rabble-rousing club. The Pens have been whistled for 12 penalties in the first two games which has given the Rangers over 22 minutes enjoying the man-advantage. Pittsburgh would be wise to keep their players out of the sin bin as New York has been spectacular on the road with a league leading 28-11-2 record when on the highway. This season the teams split at the Consol Energy Center with Pittsburgh winning the first meeting 3-2 while New York won the last 5-2 in January.

The NHL odds being offered have installed the Rangers as favorites at -120 from Bovada

 

8:00 PM ET Blues vs. Wild (series tied 1-1)
The venue shifts to Minnesota after their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Blues on Saturday afternoon. Twenty-three-year-old Russian winger Vladimir Tarasenko single-handedly stuck a dagger into any hopes the Wild had of going home with a 2-0 series advantage in hand. Tarasenko had a hat trick in Saturday’s game and has now lit the lamp seven times in his last nine playoff games. Rookie goalie Jake Allen has proven head coach Ken Hitchcock prescient stopping 49 of 52 shots in the first two games. There was some grumbling that veteran netminder Brian Elliot should get the nod but Allen has so far proven his worth riding a hot hand down the stretch of the regular season right into the playoffs. In addition, the Blues played a far more physical game in Game 2 registering 72 hits versus only 47 in the opener. The two clubs split at the Xcel Energy Center this season with the Wild coming out on top of a 6-3 scoring fest in their latest meeting in Minnesota back on March 21st in a game where Blues goaltender Brian Elliot allowed four goals on only 12 shots.

Minnesota has been installed as -130 home favorites in NHL odds tonight.

 

9:00 PM ET Ducks vs. Jets (Ducks lead series 2-0)
The Ducks hold a commanding 2-0 series lead as they pack up and head north to Winnipeg. But the NHL odds makers are favoring the Jets -135 in this one tonight which is a bit surprising considering that Anaheim won both meetings at the MTS Centre this season. The roles could very easily be reversed if it were not for the late game heroics of the Ducks’ offense. Anaheim tallied three unanswered goals in the third period of their 4-2 victory in the series opener on Thursday night and then struck twice in the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s contest en route to a 2-1 victory. The Ducks have been a third period team all year long considering their 93 goals this season in the third and overtime frames. Anaheim has won 18 times this season when trailing at any point in the third period. Anaheim’s Frederik Anderson has been solid between the pipes recording a 1.50 GAA in the two playoff games thus far. Before placing your NHL picks keep in mind that the Jets had better figure out a way to consistently beat Anderson as they are 0-6 in playoff games in their Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets existence.

The NHL odds tonight on this favor the Jets-135 at Pinnacle.com.

19th APR
NHL Playoffs: Sunday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

12:05 PM ET Capitals vs. Islanders (series tied 1-1)
There are many familiar names on the Capitals roster who one would expect to have a major impact on the outcome of Game 2 against the New York Islanders. But one name that would be far from mind would be a virtually unknown minor league goaltender named Philipp Grubauer. Caps starting netminder Braden Holtby was struck with flu-like symptoms even before Game 1 which resulted in a 4-1 Washington defeat. Holtby still ailing, was forced to sit out Game 2 as Caps coach Barry Trotz decided to summon Grubauer over veteran Justin Peters. It was a bold stroke but one that paid off as Washington knotted the series at one with a 4-3 victory on Friday night.

Holtby will be back in net for today's early afternoon clash at the Nassau Coliseum but will certainly be aware of New York's penchant for home cookin'. The Isles tied for the NHL's best home record with 25 victories at the Coliseum this season. Washington has bowed in both appearances this season on the Islanders home ice by scores of 3-2 and 4-3. Holtby was in net for both of those losses.

The NHL odds offered by Pinnacle favor New York -138.

 

3:00 PM ET Predators vs. Blackhawks (series tied 1-1)
Corey Crawford has been the man in net for Chicago, even back boning them to Stanley Cup glory in 2013 and making an All-Star appearance this season. But Crawford has struggled mightily in the postseason and if it were not for the Game 1 heroics of backup Scott Darling the Hawks could very well be looking at a 2-0 deficit as they return home to the Windy City. After Darling replaced Crawford in Game 1 and turned aside all 42 shots he faced in relief the Blackhawks rallied to clinch a 4-3 double overtime thriller.

In Game 2 Crawford was back in net but was crunched for six goals on 35 shots as the Predators tied the series with a 6-2 victory. Nashville will now take to the highway but without the services of captain Shea Weber. Weber took a seemingly routine hit during the Predators Game 2 victory but apparently it was anything but innocuous as Weber will be sidelined for at least the next two games which is a huge blow to Nashville.

When placing your NHL picks, keep in mind that Chicago is -158 in the NHL odds being offered at Pinnacle.com

 

7:00 PM ET Canadiens vs. Senators (Canadiens lead series 2-0)
Rookie netminder Andrew Hammond has been the story in terms of the Ottawa Senators late season run at the playoffs. Hammond registered a 20-1-2 record and a 1.79 goals against average in the last two months of the regular season for Ottawa. That run also included a pair of victories over the Habs but Hammond's luck has gone south in the postseason after dropping a 4-3 decision in the opener and then losing 3-2 Friday night. The Canadiens have dominated the time of possession in the first two games and have leveled a furious attack that has cracked the code of the previously indomitable rookie goalie.

The Canadiens understand they will have to be at their best tonight as the Canadian Tire Centre has been a graveyard recently for Montreal. Ottawa has gone 8-1-1 against the Habs at home over the last 10 contests. Mark Stone of the Senators was expected to be sidelined in Game 2 after sustaining a fracture to this thumb in the series opener courtesy of a P.K. Subban slash but not only played but tallied two assists in the 3-2 defeat.

Ottawa has been installed as -130 favorites in NHL odds at Pinacle.com.

 

10:00 PM ET Canucks vs. Flames (series tied 1-1)
The Canucks were outdueled 2-1 in the series opener but came back with a 4-1 victory on Friday night. They have lost the home ice advantage and must now make the trek to the Scotiabank Saddledome to battle the Flames tonight. There is no love lost between these two clubs as brawls have become almost commonplace whenever these two tango. The Canucks are 4-2 (+1.8 units) over the past three seasons when playing in Calgary.

Starting Calgary goaltender Jonas Hiller is expected to get the nod despite getting pulled in Game 2 after surrendering his third goal of the game. Vancouver is expected to stick with rookie Eddie Lack who was summoned between the pipes when starter Ryan Miller went down during the regular season. Miller returned for the regular season finale but was less than impressive in a 6-5 OT victory over the Oilers. Lack has been solid though unspectacular in his tenure this season.

The Flames are -125 favorites in NHL Odds tonight.

18th APR
NHL Playoffs: Saturday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

Wild vs. Blues (Wild lead series 1-0)
The St. Louis Blues disappointed their fans and backers who saw fit to include them in their NHL picks on Thursday night as -135 home favorites the NHL odds were offering. The Minnesota Wild avenged their 4-2 road loss to the Blues, which was the last game of their regular season, with a 4-2 victory of their own in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Today the Blues look to rebound and will have no excuses about a long layoff that they claim adversely impacted their performance on Thursday night. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock stated he would keep rookie Jake Allen between the pipes who had 25 saves and allowed only two of the four Minnesota goals with the Wild's final pair of tallies being of the empty net variety. Devan Dubnyk turned aside 19 of 21 shots for Minnesota and he too will be back patrolling the crease for the visitors.

BetDSI.com is offering NHL betting odds of -140 on the St. Louis Blues this afternoon.

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Red Wings vs. Lightning (Red Wings lead series 1-0)
There is an old saying, "Better to be lucky than good", and the Wings can consider themselves lucky - very lucky - that head coach Mike Babcock chose 23-year-old Petr Mrazek to mind the net on Thursday night. Mrazek played in only 29 regular season games but was the coach's choice to start Game 1 over the battle tested veteran Jimmy Howard. It was indeed the right decision as the Lightning launched 46 shots and connected on only two as Mrazek stood on his proverbial head to earn a 3-2 victory.

Pavel Datsyuk buried the puck in the back of the net twice for Detroit with Luke Glendening securing a short-handed goal in the third period to seal the deal for the underdog Red Wings. Detroit had a mere 14 shots on net and tallied on three which does not bode well for their chances today if their lack of offense continues. Tampa Bay on the other hand brings one of the most feared scoring machines in the league to the table as evidenced by their barrage on Thursday night. Detroit had better get more aggressive in the neutral zone and prevent the Lightning from dictating the pace otherwise this series will be knotted when the final buzzer sounds tonight.

Tampa Bay is a -179 favorite at BetDSI

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Penguins vs. Rangers (Rangers lead series 1-0)
Derick Brassard may or may not be an animal lover but it appears the 27-year-old Rangers center enjoys killing Penguins. Because that's exactly what he did again on Thursday night as only 28 seconds had ticked off the clock into the opening period when he beat Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury off a rebound courtesy of teammate Rick Nash's blast above the faceoff circle. Brassard has been a big reason why the Rangers are 7-0-1 in their last eight games against Pittsburgh with New York outscoring the Pens 28-11 and Brassard responsible for six goals and a total of 10 points in those eight games.

Another Penguin killer has been All-World goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. During their eight game span of dominance over Pittsburgh Lundqvist has turned up the heat and stymied the Penguins by posting a 1.35 goals against average and an eye-popping .959 save percentage. The Rangers will certainly be well poised to win this series if they can travel to Pittsburgh up 2-0 as one of the true road warriors of the NHL this season. The Rangers went 15-2-1 in their last 18 road contests.

Pinnacle's NHL odds are offering the New York Rangers as -179 home favorites.

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Jets vs. Ducks (Ducks lead series 1-0)
The Jets looked poised for an upset as the third period began in their Game 1 clash against Anaheim. But the Ducks would not allow it and came away with a 4-2 victory. Rallying is nothing new for the Ducks who have done it 29 times this season and three times over their Western Conference rivals, the Winnipeg Jets.

The key to Winnipeg's success will be to continue to hit but do so in a way that will keep them out of the sin bin. Anaheim has feasted on power play opportunities against the Jets converting on 7 of 19 opportunities in four meetings this season. Anaheim is 3-1 ATS at home against Winnipeg over the past four meetings and the total has gone over in three of those four meetings coinciding with all three of Anaheim's victories.

Anaheim is being offered at -140 at 5Dimes

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17th APR
NHL Playoffs: Friday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

Senators vs. Canadiens (Canadiens lead series 1-0)
The Habs notched a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of a series that opened up chippier than most had anticipated. P.K. Subban was ejected in the second period as a result of a wicked slash to the wrist of Ottawa's Mark Stone as he was skating in front of the crease on what was a five-on-four power play. Stone went down in a heap and Subban was hit with an ejection as well as a five minute major. It proved to be a costly lapse in judgment as the Senators connected on a pair of power play goals during the five minute major.

The hits just kept on comin' throughout the game as Montreal recorded 42 hits to Ottawa's 44. Tonight's matchup could get even testier as veteran tough guy Chris Neil will take the ice in place of Stone who suffered a fracture to his right wrist and will be sidelined. Speaking of injuries Montreal is still without the services of Max Pacioretty and P.A. Parenteau both suffering upper body injuries.

The NHL odds for tonight's Game 2 has the host Montreal Canadiens a -135 favorite.

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Islanders vs. Capitals (Islanders lead series 1-0)
The Isles were well equipped to travel to the nations' capital and take on the steamrolling Caps. When the dust settled New York handed their hosts a 4-1 defeat and will be up 2-0 and going home if they can win their second consecutive playoff game in Washington. Discipline was a major reason why the Islanders won as they had only two minor penalties the entire game which kept Washington's potent power play unit off the ice. Brock Nelson of the Isles opened the scoring and then tallied an empty netter to put Washington on ice Wednesday night.

Offense is something the Capitals know a thing or two about having one of the preeminent scorers of a generation in Alexander Ovechkin suiting up each and every time they take to the ice. But Ovechkin has been curiously quiet in the post season going six consecutive post season games dating back to last season without a single point! The Capitals have gone an astonishing 17 consecutive playoff contests scoring three goals or less.

Pinnacle.com has installed Washington as a -140 favorite in its NHL betting odds.

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Blackhawks vs. Predators (Blackhawks lead series 1-0)
Backup goaltender Scott Darling was the star of the Game 1 show. The Blackhawks were deep in a 3-0 hole when Corey Crawford was yanked and Scott Darling was summoned. By the time his night was over he had stopped all 42 shots fired his way and the Hawks rallied to win a 4-3 thriller in overtime. Patrick Kane was also a big storyline as he tallied two assists upon his triumphant return after missing the last 21 games of the regular season.

Tonight Corey Crawford will be back in net despite the heroics of his understudy on Wednesday evening. Crawford will hope to backstop Chicago to their fourth consecutive victory over Nashville dating back to early December. And speaking of Nashville they have been struggling mightily headed into the postseason and are now down a game in the first round of the playoffs. They will be trying to snap what is now a seven game losing streak with a goalie in Pekka Rinne who has the Nashville fans losing confidence by the start.  The Preds may be without the services of Mike Fisher tonight after the 14-year veteran sustained a lower body injury on Wednesday night.

The NHL odds have been posted and Nashville is a slight -115 favorite to knot the series.

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Flames vs. Canucks (Flames lead series 1-0)
The Canucks skated into the postseason with a six game home losing streak. Make it seven. Yes, the Calgary Flames singed the Canucks by a 2-1 margin in their opener by rallying in the third period with a pair of goals sending the Vancouver fans home disappointed. The third period has been the moneymaker for Calgary as they were tied with Tampa Bay for the most goals in period three. The Flames have now won the last three games against the Canucks and will try to make it number four tonight.

The NHL odds in this one indicate the oddsmakers believe Vancouver's home woes will end this evening after installing the Canucks as -150 home favorites.

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16th APR
NHL Playoffs: Thursdday's Update

By: Swinging Johnson

 

Penguins vs. Rangers (Series 0-0)
The Eastern Conference top dog New York Rangers will look to oust the bottom seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the NHL playoffs. The Rangers are trying to finish the job they set out to do in 2014 when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit against the Penguins in the second round to ultimately face off in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings. Yet last season the Rangers were lightly regarded as the fifth seed from the East whereas this season they are the owners of the President’s Trophy which is awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the regular season.

Stalwart Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will not be in action due to a concussion suffered late in the season. But the Pens do boast two of the most dangerous offensive forces in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But to counteract the two superstars the Rangers have depth and plenty of it. They also have a starting goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist who can steal a series all by himself and a backup in Cam Talbot who was stellar in Lundqvist’s absence this season. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury led all netminders with 10 shutouts but he has been historically soft in the postseason.

The NHL odds on Game 1 favor the NY Rangers at -170 at Pinnacle

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Red Wings vs. Lightning (Series 0-0)                                                      
The Lightning will enjoy home ice advantage as the third seed in the Eastern Conference drawing the sixth seeded Detroit Red Wings. It should be noted that the Lightning was a league leading 32-9 at home and garnered a franchise best 50 wins on the season leading to 108 points. Tampa Bay also handled the Wings with relative ease this season beating them in three of four contests.

When it comes to offense one can do no better than the Tampa Bay Lightning after registering a league best 3.16 goals per game. Steve Stamkos is the proverbial straw that stirs the drink for Tampa as he led the team with 43 goals en route to 72 points on the season.

The young guns between the pipes should make for an interesting series. Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop set a team record for wins with a 40-13-5 mark but it should be noted he was in the middle of the pack with a GAA of 2.32 and a .916 save percentage while at the other end of the ice 23-year-old Petr Mrazek will be patrolling the crease. Mrazek played in only 29 games this season but is the coach’s choice to supplant veteran Jimmy Howard in the series opener.

The NHL odds favor Tampa Bay -160 at Pinncacle

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Wild vs. Blues (Series 0-0)
The St. Louis Blues enjoyed another highly successful regular season and copped the second seed in the Western Conference. The Blues also boasted a +47 plus/minus, second only to the New York Rangers, and will host their Central Division foes the Minnesota Wild in the opening round. Head coach Ken Hitchcock had a no lose decision in terms of who to tap as his starting goalie in tonight’s Game 1 clash with the Wild and he chose rookie Jake Allen over veteran Brian Elliot. Both goalies looked sharp during the season and both have virtually identical numbers but Allen has had the hot hand over the last six weeks and he will be minding the net for the Blues tonight.

At the other end of the ice the Blues will encounter a brick wall in Devan Dubnyk who sported the second best goals against average and save percentage, behind only Montreal’s Carey Price, and is the key to any success the Wild will have in the postseason. Minnesota took the season series 2-1-1 and will try to jump out on top with a road victory tonight.

The NHL odds favor the St. Louis Blues as -129 favorites at Pinnacle

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Jets vs. Ducks (Series 0-0)
The 2014-2015 Western Conference regular season kings are the Anaheim Ducks and they will host the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the Honda Center. The Ducks won their season series against the Jets 3-0 with their last meeting proving to be a 5-4 thriller for Anaheim. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf led the team in points with 70 while veteran Corey Perry notched a team best 33 goals.

The Jets are riding a wave of momentum and are counting on the enigmatic Ondrej Pavelec to maintain his stellar play down the stretch where he turned aside anything and everything in his last three games of the season, all shutouts. The Jets will also look to Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba to keep the crease clear of hard charging Ducks. This should be a series that gets nasty early on and many pundits are predicting it will not be a cakewalk for the heavily favored Ducks.

The NHL odds favor the Anaheim Ducks as -136 favorites at Pinnacle

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