IP warms to Stanley Cup playoffs

April 16, 2002 10:39 AM
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No place works harder than Imperial Palace to promote the National Hockey League, so starting the Stanley Cup playoffs this Wednesday and Thursday was a touch of good fortune.

“I think people have come to look for our Wednesday night NHL promotions during the regular season and we had a nice response,” said Jay Kornegay, race and sports book director at Imperial Palace.

“We didn’t plan anything special for Wednesday because we weren’t sure when the playoffs would start,” Kornegay said. “But, I know we’ll do something to make everyone happy.”

The two-month grind to hockey’s Holy Grail is a 16-team battle to win 16 games. Each round is best 4-of-7 games starting with four series in both the Eastern and Western Conference.

Kornegay, a Denver native and Colorado Avalanche fan, opened archrival Detroit as a 4-5 favorite to win the Cup. The Red Wings led the NHL with 116 points and are the top-seeded team in the West.

The Boston Bruins led the East with 101 points to edge Toronto (100) for the top seeding in that conference. Defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado tied Dallas in the final regular season game to gain a point and clinch the No. 2 seed in the West.

The Imperial Palace plans to run proposition bets on the Stanley Cup as the competition progresses into June.

“The top three teams in the West figure to be Detroit, Colorado and Los Angeles,” Kornegay said. “The real surprise was that Dallas did not make the playoffs. The Kings are the team to watch. They beat Detroit last year and took the Avs to seven games.”

Although the Maple Leafs finished just behind Boston for No. 1 in the East, they should be energized with the return of injured starting goalie Curtis Joseph.

“Getting Cujo back could lift Toronto all the way to the ­­finals,” Kornegay said. “I wouldn’t even be surprised if Boston lost to Montreal.”

Kornegay admits that the NHL is a regional sport, which does not receive nearly the betting interest of the NBA.

“The crowds that show up at our place for the Wednesday night promotions are mostly from the Midwest and Canada,” he said.

CUP ODDS

Boston   10-1
Philly   10-1
Carolina   40-1
NY Isles   40-1
N.Jersey   12-1
Montreal   75-1
Ottawa   30-1
Toronto   12-1
Detroit   4-5
Colorado   6-1
San Jose   15-1
Chicago   40-1
LA Kings   20-1
St. Louis   30-1
Phoenix   50-1
Vancouver    40-1