Flyers, Sharks figure to advance in Cup playoffs

April 22, 2008 7:00 PM
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Power Plays by Kevin Stott |

PLAYOFFS
SEASON
PCT
8-3
139-77-8
64.4

With no second-round series etched in stone at press time, Power Plays is forced to take a week off as the Pittsburgh Penguins are the only team to have advanced after their impressive 4-0 sweep of last year’s Eastern Conference champs, the Ottawa Senators.

But fear not hockey handicappers as daily hockey picks – usually with odds and totals – can be found at our new website www.gamingtoday.com under the GTPlus section and they are absolutely free throughout the month of April. So log in and get down.

One writer’s note about betting the NHL playoffs and this particular time of the year – try and tone the amount of your bets down a bit (as much as 50 percent). Handicapping and betting on a Rangers-Devils game that means something in the postseason is a lot different than handicapping a Blues-Sharks game in the middle of January that means nothing.

As far as looking at conference semifinal matchups there is very little we can do now in terms of homework as the NHL re-seeds the winners of the first round and no one in the West had even clinched at this writing with Colorado, SJ and Dallas all a game away.

Two possible East semis we can talk about are potential Penguins-Rangers and Canadiens-Flyers matchups.

In the regular season, the No. 5-seed Rangers had the No. 2-seed Rangers’ number, winning the series 5-3 and outscoring Pittsburgh, 21-16. Although on paper, NY seemed to dominate here, Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury seemed to pick it up a notch in the playoffs, allowing just five goals in four games. For perspective, the Devils gave up five goals last night (Thursday).

And with Pittsburgh getting plenty of rest while NY is still brawling with rival NJ. Expect the Rangers to be beat up a bit heading into Round 2. If the Pens host NY later this week, take the PENGUINS in Game’s 1 and 2.

Looking at a possible Canadiens-Flyers matchup reveals a similar reality as Montreal swept the season series, 4-0, and stifled Philly on the scoreboard, 15-6. But that was then and this is now and the Broad Street Bullies are playing really good hockey while Les Habs have frozen up late in their series with the Bruins.

There is real value in looking at taking the FLYERS as an underdog in Montreal in Game’s 1 and 2.

There were two possible Game 7’s scheduled for tonight and if any of these contests are played, I like the FLYERS on the road and the SHARKS and at home.

One interesting stat from the NHL Network (Cox channel 316) revealed that 81 percent of Game 5 winners end up winning their playoff series — a very good thing to remember in betting on Games 6 and 7.