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Bodog: Stanley Cup Playoff Handicapping Tips

NHL Playoff Update

If the Stanley Cup playoffs don’t really get started until one of the favorites gets bounced, then consider the NHL postseason off and running. The eighth-seeded Anaheim Ducks stunned the San Jose Sharks in six games in the first round behind goaltender Jonas Hiller, and now face the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinal.

The Red Wings swept the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round, mirroring the success of the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver rolled past the St. Louis Blues in four straight to set up their West semifinal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who held off the Calgary Flames in six games.


In the Eastern Conference, the top-seeded Boston Bruins creamed the Montreal Canadiens in four games to get to the second round, where they’re going up against the Carolina Hurricanes. Trailing 3-2 with less than two minutes to play in Game 7 of their East quarterfinal series with the New Jersey Devils, the Hurricanes scored twice to lift themselves into a matchup with the Bruins. 

Carolina’s upset set up a dream series for the other East semifinal, with the Washington Capitals drawing the Pittsburgh Penguins. The New York Rangers pushed the Capitals to seven games in the first round, while the Penguins got the best of the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.

Caps to take control?

Oddsmakers have Washington as slight -125 home chalk to take a 2-0 lead in their series with Pittsburgh, which is priced as +105 underdogs for Monday night’s Game 2.

The Capitals cashed the opener 3-2 as -133 favorites on Saturday afternoon, as Tomas Fleischmann scored the winner. Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby both found the back of the net in Game 1, while the Pens outshot the Caps 36-26 in the puckline victory.

Bettors handicapping the 5.5-goal total are looking at the over for Monday night. The teams are 10-2 O/U in the last 12 meetings in Washington, and are 20-8 O/U in the last 28 encounters overall.

Ducks in the driver’s seat

Coming off its 4-3 win (+183) in triple overtime in Game 2 on Sunday afternoon, Anaheim returns home for Game 3 of their series with defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit on Tuesday night.

The Ducks outlasted the Red Wings to earn a split in the series in Game 2, and now they’ll have the benefit of home ice for two games. Todd Marchant was the hero on Sunday, while Hiller made 59 saves to stymie Detroit, which won the opener 3-2 as -220 home chalk.

Also coming up

Carolina is in the same boat as Anaheim after shutting out Boston 3-0 in Game 2 of their series on Sunday night. The Hurricanes evened up the set at one game apiece, cashing for backers as +170 road dogs. Game 3 goes Wednesday night back in Raleigh, where the Canes should be seeing slight chalk.

Game 3 between Vancouver and Chicago is set for Tuesday night at the United Center, with the Blackhawks aiming to take a 2-1 series lead after cashing 6-3 as +145 pups in Saturday night’s Game 2. Chicago could have easily won the opener, as the Canucks (-150) scored two late markers to down the Hawks 5-3.

Digging deeper

The Blackhawks’ upset in Game 2 has sharps wondering about the play of Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo. Often cited as the best goaltender in the game, Luongo was dynamite against St. Louis in the opening round, but has looked pedestrian in the first two games against Chicago. If Luongo isn’t better on the road this week, Vancouver backers will be bleeding serious money when the series shifts back to GM Place.

On the other side of the coin, Detroit’s Chris Osgood has quelled all concern about his ability to get the Wings back to the Cup with his play during the postseason. Average during the regular season, Osgood looks like the goalie that backstopped Detroit to the top of the mountain last season, Sunday’s triple-OT loss to Anaheim notwithstanding.

Despite his performance, Osgood is in tough against the Ducks’ big line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Bobby Ryan, especially with shutdown center Kris Draper (upper body) and defenseman Brian Rafalski (upper body) both doubtful for Game 3.Sports Betting at the Sportsbook

Even if Osgood keeps turning pucks aside, it’ll be tough for him to match Anaheim’s Hiller, who has been the best netminder in the postseason not named Simeon Varlamov. 9-2-1 with a sparkling 1.77 goals-against average dating back to the regular season, Varlamov saved the day in the Capitals’ seven-game escape against the Rangers.

His presence is far more important to betting the Washington-Pittsburgh series than the hyped Crosby-Ovechkin matchup; while the two are certainly world class players, hockey is a team sport. Case and point: Ovechkin and Crosby were on the ice together for all of 4:34 in Game 1.

Analyst opinion: A little four-leg parlay, anyone?

Back at the start of the playoffs, I had a feeling the Ducks were going to knock off the Sharks and then make a deep postseason run. I held off betting Anaheim long term, but after earning a split in their series with Detroit on Sunday afternoon, the Ducks are a team on a mission.

It’s just my opinion – I’m no professional handicapper – but I’m going to take Anaheim to win its series outright against Detroit. The Ducks were priced as +350 underdogs to do so on Sunday, so there’s plenty of value in the wager. I also like the winner of the Anaheim-Detroit series to cash the Western Conference, so it follows that I’ll parlay my original play with the Ducks at +750 to advance to the Cup final.

To round out the four-legger, I’ll supplement those wagers with another futures bet, and I’ll play it safe. Adding Boston as -110 faves to win the Eastern Conference keeps things reasonable, although bettors that like to roll the dice could snag Pittsburgh at +250.

Finishing things off, I’ll take my favorite proposition bet when the odds are released for Monday and Tuesday’s games early in the week. I’ll have the choice of team to score first, total goals on the night, and a variety of player props at my disposal.

Get all your hockey betting odds at Bodog Sportsbook – All The Lines For the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Are At Bodog!


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Dave B has been a Fantasy Football writer for us for 10 years. A couch potato wannabe, Dave’s insights have been read by 10’s of people for years. He hope’s for world peace + global relaxation. Enjoy and remember only smoke things that are completely natural.