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Daniel - Poker Journal

Hockey Bets for the NHL Playoffs

14 Apr 2010

I'm usually a guy who looks for underdogs getting plus money, however, this year in the NHL I see a significant drop off from the top teams to those that squeaked into the playoffs. I don't see myself betting on any underdog in round 1 of the playoffs. We'll start in the EAST:

Washington -5.15/Montreal +4.35

Not touching this one. Washington should obviously win this series, but I'm not sold on this Washington team being able to keep the puck out of it's own net in the playoffs. Playoff hockey is just different, and a hot goalie will take you a long way. Montreal isn't too scary, but their goalie is the #1 reason they are even in the post season.

New Jersey -2.33 vs Philadelphia

Speaking of goalies, we have Martin Brodeur against... Brian Boucher? Really, that about says it all hear, but there is more. This is not the old New Jersey team, these guys are deep at forward and can actually score goals. Philly may be tough and physical, also boasting immense depth at forward, but their problem has been the same for years: time to draft a goalie!!!
New Jersey -2.33

Buffalo -1.57/Boston +1.42

I'm not touching this either. You are "supposed" to bet Boston here, but that team is just really bad. Without Marc Savard they just can't score. Sure, Zdeno Chara is the best defenseman in the game, but he can't do it all. Many point to Buffalo's Ryan Miller as the difference here, and that's why Buffalo is a lock, but I think they are insane! Boston goalie Tukka Rask is the reason I stopped being a Leaf fan. Rask was traded to Boston for Andrew Raycroft in one of the worst trades in history, and while Rask is still very young, he's already proven to be an outstanding NHL goalie. The only thing you might catch me betting in this series is the UNDER.

Pittsburgh -2.86/Ottawa +2.53

I had Pittsburgh written down on my original list, but dropped this bet after a bit more research. Ottawa played them tough all year, and Pittsburgh hasn't been playing well down the stretch. Fleury looks shaky. I still like Crosby and Malkin to win the series, but not enough to warrant laying 2.86


WEST

San Jose -3.72/Colorado +3.23

Money seems to be coming in on Colorado and I think that's a mistake. I don't put too much stock into the idea that San Jose isn't a playoff team, or that they'll choke in the playoffs. Maybe they'll struggle against the elite in the West, but Colorado is an excellent match up for them and they should overpower. I don't think Colorado is going to win a game. Since I don't see this series going 7 games, and if it does then my analysis is way off anyway, I decided to play this as an exotic laying 1.68 on San Jose but betting they'll win in 6 games or less.

San Jose 1.5 games -1.667

Chicago -3.89/Nashville +3.37

As a team I think the Blackhawks are awesome, but I'm not sold on their goaltending situation being ready to dominate in the playoffs. They've slumped defensively down the stretch and are going with Niemi (for now) against the Preds. Preds are underrated for sure. Solid defensively, solid in goal, and decent depth at forward. This could be trouble for the favored Blackhawks and I'm tempted to take a flier on Nashville, but decided to pass.

Vancouver -2.39 vs Los Angeles

Luongo hasn't had the playoff success most would expect from arguably the games best goalie, but this is a very different Canucks team compared to past teams. This version can score, in bunches! Henrik Sedin won the scoring title this year and the Canucks ranked second only to Washington in goals scored. They key reason is that the Sedins have been given some support and they are no longer the only focus for the opposing defense.
The Kings are a young team on the rise, and they'll have their day, it just won't be this year with Jonathan Quick between the pipes. They have Bernier waiting in the wings, a solid defense and a developing offense, but they just aren't a match with Vancouver's depth. Well, aside from defense, the one weakness for the Canucks that is a strength for LA.
Vancouver -2.39

Phoenix +1.65/Detroit -1.83

When was the last time you saw a 5 seed be close to a 2-1 favorite over a 4 seed? Well, there is good reason for it if you followed the regular season at all. Detroit is a perennial powerhouse that was decimated by injuries during the early part of the season. Since the Olympic break they've been healthy, and on fire. You feel like you are supposed to take the hefty price on the young Coyotes who'd have game 7 on home ice, but I can't bring myself to bet against the Wings, and there is no way I'm laying 2-1 on the road team!

So I'm betting 3 of the 8 series, but I also found a few, fun, exotic bets I'm taking a shot at:

New Jersey +12.30
This is a must win bet, but I think it's enough wiggle room where I could also potentially hedge if I change my mind. Now, I don't necessarily think New Jersey would win, but the 9-1 on Detroit and the 12-1 on NJ intrigued me enough, and I chose NJ because I think they'll have the easier path with home ice in every series except if they face Washington. I also think this is one of the most well rounded, and best Devils teams they've ever had. They don't have the powerful defense they once had, but they add the element of scoring depth, and they still have that Brodeur guy who seems timeless.

New Jersey in 5 games exactly +3.054
I see NJ winning in 5 or 6, but in then end I see Philly getting their fans excited with a game 3 win and nothing more. Philly can score, but so can NJ now. The big difference: Martin Brodeur.



San Jose to sweep Colorado +5.785
The Sharks have something to prove and despite the jeers from the naysayers, this is a VERY different team this year. They are healthy with Marleau playing great, Dan Boyle has a ring and adds stability to the blueline, and Nabakov is still a high end goalie. San Jose has made mistakes in the past taking games lightly, but I think they'll play with purpose in round one and crush the young Avalanche.

So that's that. I'm finally going home tomorrow!!! I'm so excited to get back for a few days. I'll be catching up on Tivo and watching the NHL playoffs at night, and by day I'll be resuming Operation 80 on the golf course. On the 18th it's time for the WPT Championship and I plan on focusing harder on certain aspects of the game that I may have been neglecting, and may have cost me in the Bounty Shootout. I just need to maintain focus harder and longer. After that, it's off the EPT Monte Carlo for the Grand Final, then back to Vegas to shoot the PokerStars.net The Big Game.

Oh, and I plan on sitting in the $100-$200 games again, likely the deeper ante games that are new at PokerStars. I went from up $200k or so to almost even, then back up $200k, to then hitting another rough patch and after close to 8000 hands I'm back to even again.

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