NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are must watch television

May 14, 2013 3:01 AM

Please tell me you’re watching these Stanley Cup playoffs.

Twice there were nights with four games decided by a goal. Two other nights had three games decided by 1. There have been 27 games with a one goal differential. We’re still in the first round. It’s just starting to get good.

Besides the drama, the game has presented some great betting opportunities. As I write this, 45 games have been played. Favorites are 31-14. The OVER holds a slight 20-18 edge in totals with 7 pushes.

Taking +1½ goals is 32-13 to the good. Home teams are 29-16, while home dogs are 2-5. While favorites have been strong in the individual games, that hasn’t necessarily converted into easy pickings for series bets.

This isn’t the NBA. The higher seeded team is always vulnerable. Last season the bottom seeded Los Angeles Kings got hot and won the Cup.

This season both top seeds, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, advanced. The Blackhawks coasted, but the Penguins were thrown an awful scare by the New York Islanders. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury got benched in favor of veteran backup Tomas Vokoun to win the final two games and the series.

While we didn’t have a top seed get upset this year, both No. 2’s were sent packing. The Ottawa Senators beat the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference and the Detroit Red Wings upended the Anaheim Ducks in the West. No one is all that surprised. If it happened in basketball ESPN would have a 30 for 30 in production before bettors finished cashing their tickets.

Neither of the No. 1 seeds have a second round layup either. The Blackhawks face the Detroit Red Wings in an Original 6 matchup that has the potential to be a classic. The Blackhawks have a Stanley Cup in their recent past, but the Wings have four since 1997.

Mike Babcock coached Detroit to its last championship in 2008. He snuck this version of the Wings into the playoffs in the final weeks. Now he has a hot goaltender in Jimmy Howard and a legitimate chance to take this squad past the regular season’s best team.

The Penguins will take on the Ottawa Senators. While the Pens will be substantial favorites, hockey people will tell you this is a bad matchup for them. The Penguins have a habit of creating their own problems through sloppy play. The Senators are a team that plays conservatively and counterpunches off mistakes. They have their own hot goalie in Craig Anderson.

Additionally, Penguins bad boy Matt Cooke’s skate damaged the Senators Erik Karlsson’s Achilles tendon back in February. It appeared to be a devastating injury to Senators best player, the reigning Norris Trophy winner as the league’s top defenseman. Fortunately for the Senators, Karlsson came back before the end of the season and was instrumental in Ottawa’s upset of the Montreal Canadiens.

There were plenty of questions at the time of the injury as to the intention of Cooke. It was definitely an unnatural motion on Cooke’s part that caused the injury. Likely it was unintentional. That’s the way the league saw it.

Cooke is responsible for his reputation as dirty player, though. Karlsson laughed off any thoughts of retaliation. I don’t blame him. He’s only 175 pounds. If anyone is going to retaliate he’ll leave it to someone else – most likely Senators tough guy Chris Neil. Two Game 7’s from Monday night will have finalize the matchups for the second round in the East. The table is set for more great hockey.

I feel like an evangelist for the game sometimes, but I can’t understand why more people don’t watch. I hear them say there’s not enough scoring, but that’s part of the drama. Each trip down the ice can change the game and your bet.

I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.comYou can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports . Contact Chris at [email protected] oday.com.

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