New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers (-159, 5.5)
Two teams that took different routes to get to Round 2 of the Eastern Conference postseason meet for the fifth time in playoff history as one of the league’s more underrated rivalries is renewed. Just 87 miles along a stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike separate these two clubs, so this has the makings of as intense a series as you’ll see.All about Adam
Even general manager Lou Lamoriello, who sculpted three Stanley Cup title teams from 1995-2003, didn’t know what to expect from New Jersey forward Adam Henrique this season. The rookie seemed bound for the AHL-NHL express. He’d play some games with the big club, but he’d probably get more seasoning in the minors.
Henrique made sure that didn’t happen. His early-season play made him a staple in coach Peter DeBoer’s rotation and 16 goals and 51 points later, not only is Henrique a valued member of the Devils’ offense, he’s also a finalist for the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL’s top rookie.
Henrique didn’t stop there. He scored twice including the game winner in double overtime, as the Devils outlasted Florida 3-2 to win their first-round series in seven games Thursday. The center is quick and feisty on faceoff and the left-handed shot, who was a plus-8 in the regular season, could cause some matchup problems for Philadelphia.Keep up with Claude
Maybe Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was a little strong last week, when he called Philadelphia forward Claude Giroux “the best player in the world.” There are a few others out there that might warrant that label, but nonetheless, Laviolette’s timing was good. Giroux, after all, is on a run for the ages.
Entering a series against Pittsburgh, Giroux stood tall among the Penguins’ stars. He had six goals and 14 points and dominated play for long stretches of the series.
His hit on Crosby in the first minute of Game 6 set the tone that his teammates followed through on it the rest of the day. He finished the series with 28 shots in the six games.
We’ll see if a seven-day layoff between games slows Giroux’s momentum, but it’s probably unlikely. After all, he’s only 24 years old and Laviolette gave the players just one full day off this week, so all of the Flyers should be ready.He keeps going and going
He will turn 40 during this series and, though he will likely return next season, there’s always a chance this playoff could be Martin Brodeur’s last.
So, perhaps it’s fitting that he’s facing the Flyers in this year’s tournament. After all, Brodeur has already met Philadelphia four times in playoff series during a career that began in 1992. There’s a history there and while the Flyers have trotted out goalie after goalie, Brodeur has been an anchor to New Jersey’s winning culture since 1992.
He wasn’t at his best versus Florida in Round 1. He and the Devils blew a 3-0 lead in Game 3 and lost. And they blew 2-0 leads in Games 6 and 7 before rallying.
Brodeur is so-so against the Flyers in the playoffs for his career. In 1995 and 2000, in the Eastern Conference Finals, he won. In 2004 and 2010, he lost in Round 1.
But if you’re looking for a sign of things to come, consider this: In both times Brodeur has defeated the Flyers in the playoffs, the Devils later won the Stanley Cup.History
The Flyers have won four straight Sunday games and have won 12 of the last 17 as favorites. New Jersey won its last six regular season contests, so with the first round included, the Devils have now won 10 of the last 13.
The Flyers started 4-0 over/under in the Penguins series before the oddsmakers caught up and established the total at seven in Games 5 and 6. As such, they’ve gone under in their last two tilts.Nashville Predators at Phoenix Coyotes (+107, 5)
Most of the viewing public may not know much about these two teams. But for the loyal, attentive bettors out there, this pair has been making money for a long time. There are two great goaltenders, offensive balance and three of the more underrated defensemen in the league on display.Strong in defeat
There’s a reason that Nashville is a slight favorite in Game 2. Even though they are on the road and trail the series, the Predators impressed the oddsmakers in Game 1. And rightfully so.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne was the victim of some bad bounces, but it didn't impact the Predators' push up front. Nashville pumped 42 shots on net and, though Phoenix's Mike Smith was strong between the pipes, if that kind of aggressive play continues the Predators are going to be just fine.
And on the backline, though they weren't great in Game 1, Nashville still has the better names on defense. Ryan Suter played 33:17 and Shea Weber played 33:12 in Game 1, but they need more than five shots from the two of them and they also need to be better than a combined minus-2.Ray of hope
Phoenix forward Ray Whitney, who like Brodeur will turn 40 in May, has found energy late in his career and has become something of a lightning rod in Phoenix. As he goes, so go the Coyotes and in Game 1, he had a goal and an assist as the home team drew first blood.
In the regular season, Whitney had 24 goals and 77 points. And while defenseman Keith Yandle is the poster child for Phoenix’s stifling defensive ways, Whitney has clearly bought in. After all, he was a plus-26 this year.
Whitney closed the regular season with six points in his last five games and now has five postseason points. At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, he’s still as slippery as ever. You would think that Weber and Suter could bottle him up, but it hasn’t happened yet.Made in Montreal
Montreal fans don't have much to cheer for these days, but if they're still into these playoffs, perhaps they want to give a look at former Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon.
Not as heralded as some of the other Predators blueliners, Bouillon is having a solid postseason. He had two assists and was a plus-2 in Game 1 and now has three points in the playoffs.
As Canadiens fans will tell you, points are a bonus for Bouillon. His best season, after all, saw him post just 22 in 2005-06 with Montreal. His true value lies in his own zone.
He is a plus-8 in the postseason with 13 hits and six shots on goal. He also has five blocked shots. And speaking of age, he’s doing this at 36 years old in his 12th season in the league.History
Nashville has won 10 of the last 11 Sunday games and has won four of the last five road games. Phoenix has won 10 of the last 12 games overall, dating back to the regular season and the over has hit in six of the last seven games between these two clubs in Arizona.