Saturday's NHL playoff action: What bettors need to know

May 4, 2013 |
Saturday's NHL playoff action: What bettors need to know
The Blues and Kings opened Game 3 with a low total of 4.5 goals.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
The Blues and Kings opened Game 3 with a low total of 4.5 goals.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
New York Rangers at Washington Capitals (-121, 5)

Washington leads seried 1-0.

The New York Rangers will need to slow down Alex Ovechkin if they hope to emerge with a split following Saturday's Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series with the Washington Capitals. The three-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner continued his furious surge by scoring in third-seeded Washington's 3-1 victory over sixth-seeded New York in Game 1 on Thursday. Ovechkin tallied 15 times in April - with the Capitals posting a 12-1-1 mark in that span.

Ovechkin's latest goal came on the power play, which was a sore spot for New York coach John Tortorella. "We can't be there," Tortorella said after watching his team play short-handed on five occasions. "We will not win games if we're there. Forget about how you defend it, we can't be in the box that much." Washington finished the season with the league's top power play, converting at an impressive 26.8 percent clip.

TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, TSN, RDS

Carl Hagelin scored a goal and nearly had another before being denied on a short-handed breakaway. The Swede also hit the crossbar midway into the third period as the Rangers struggled to find their offense. New York may receive a boost as rugged Ryane Clowe eyes a return to the ice. "I'm not going to rule out (Saturday)," said Clowe, who has been sidelined since April 25 with an undisclosed injury. "It's tough to watch this time of year, the playoffs. ... But I'll discuss it with the trainers and the proper people today and let them know how I felt out there. So we'll see."

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: While Marcus Johansson scored the goal that gave Washington a 2-1 lead, it was the stretch pass by defenseman Steven Oleksy that had his teammates talking. The 27-year-old zipped the puck between Rangers defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi to allow Johansson to skate in and wrist a shot under the left arm of Henrik Lundqvist. "I thought that was (Mike Green's) pass, to be honest," right wing Eric Fehr said. "I didn't know Steve had that club in his bag."


* Under is 11-3-8 in the last 22 meetings.
* Under is 19-6-2 in the last 27 meetings in Washington.
* Home team is 6-2 in the last eight meetings.
* Rangers are 3-7 in the last 10 meetings in Washington.


1. Ovechkin's franchise-best 31st postseason goal moved him ahead of Peter Bondra, who scored 30 in 73 playoff games.

2. New York D Marc Staal (eye) and C Brian Boyle (knee) practiced on Friday, but Tortorella did not address their availability for Game 2.

3. Washington G Braden Holtby, who turned aside 35 shots in Game 1, has won 10 of his last 11 starts.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins (-186, 5)

Boston leads series 1-0.

The fifth-seeded Toronto Maple Leafs suffered a rude awakening in their first playoff game since 2004 and will try to recover for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the fourth-seeded Boston Bruins on Saturday. Boston had no trouble scoring on Wednesday, doubling Toronto in shots in a 4-1 home victory in Game 1 - the first time since April 21 the Bruins scored more than twice. The Maple Leafs, who have won just three times in their last 16 trips (3-11-2) to TD Garden, hope to avoid returning to Toronto on Monday down 2-0 in the series.

Tuukka Rask looked confident after allowing an early goal on Wednesday in his first playoff appearance since May 14, 2010. Rask only needed to make 19 saves to defeat the team that drafted him in the first round in 2005. James Reimer’s 36 stops for the Maple Leafs marked a solid playoff debut for the netminder, but the team in front of him looked overmatched, losing physical battles and failing to generate quality scoring opportunities. Toronto has been outshot in 19 of its last 21 contests, and unless it can control the puck more against the Bruins, its first playoff series in nine years will be a short one.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS, NESN (Boston)

ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS: Defenseman Mike Kostka suffered a fractured finger in Game 1 and is out indefinitely. He is likely to be replaced by Jake Gardiner or Ryan O'Byrne, both of whom were healthy scratches on Wednesday. Blue-liner Cody Franson bruised his foot in the contest but earned an assist and says he will be ready for Saturday. Phil Kessel missed practice on Thursday for what was termed a “maintenance day” after his struggles against his former team continued in Game 1. Kessel, who is the first Toronto player to end the regular season among the league’s top 10 scorers in two consecutive seasons since Doug Gilmour did it 19 years ago, registered one shot in 13:51 of ice time in his first postseason contest with a team other than the Bruins.

ABOUT THE BRUINS: Defenseman Andrew Ference was suspended one game for his hit on Mikhail Grabovski in the first period on Wednesday. There was no penalty called on the play, but the league deemed Ference’s elbow made contact with Grabovski’s head. “It’s a decision the league makes. As a player, you deal with it, but as far as having a public opinion, I don’t think it benefits any player to express any opinion about it,” Ference told reporters on Friday. “As a player, you accept it and move on to the next game.” Ference will be eligible to return for Game 3 in Toronto on Monday. Rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton appears likely to make his playoff debut on Saturday in place of Ference.


* Home team is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
* Over is 12-4-1 in the last 17 meetings in Boston.
* Over is 9-3-2 in the last 14 meetings.
* Maple Leafs are 17-35 in the last 52 meetings.
* Maple Leafs are 3-13 in the last 16 meetings in Boston.


1. Toronto C Leo Komarov showed his team’s frustration at the end of the game on Wednesday when he fought Chris Kelly, marking the first time Komarov has dropped the gloves at the NHL level.

2. Boston RW Nathan Horton’s return from an upper-body injury sparked his line with C David Krejci and LW Milan Lucic. Horton scored, Krejci finished with three points for the first time since March 16 and Lucic added two assists.

3. Veteran Bruins D Wade Redden recorded a goal and an assist in his first postseason contest since April 28, 2009.

Anaheim Ducks at Detroit Red Wings (-130, 5)

Series tied 1-1.

After seizing home-ice advantage from Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks with an overtime victory, the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings attempt to take a 2-1 lead when they host the Ducks in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series on Saturday. After scoring twice in the third period of Game 1 to claim a 3-1 victory, Anaheim netted three unanswered goals in the third on Thursday to force overtime. Gustav Nyquist converted a power-play opportunity just 81 seconds into the extra session to even the series for the Red Wings.

If the second-seeded Ducks hope to regain control of the series, they'll have to contain Detroit in the early going. Including the overtime, the Red Wings scored a goal less than 90 seconds into all four periods in Game 2. "We weren't ready to play at the start of the game and the start of the periods," Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "We've got to be ready to hit the ice and be flying."

7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, KDOC (Anaheim), FSN (Detroit)

Despite having Viktor Fasth in tow, coach Bruce Boudreau is sticking with Jonas Hiller in goal for the time being. Boudreau admitted Hiller was not at his best Thursday but did not place all of the blame for the loss on the netminder. "I thought there were some great saves and some saves he should have had," Boudreau said. "But I don't think on a couple of (the goals) that the play in front of him was very good either." The Ducks will need to stay out of the penalty box after committing two infractions in each of the first three periods in Game 2. "Before the series, we talked about being disciplined," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "You can't really take six minors in a game against a team like Detroit."

Detroit will be without rookie defenseman Danny DeKeyser for the remainder of the postseason due to a broken thumb suffered in the third period on Thursday. "He's done," coach Mike Babcock said. "When we lost DeKeyser, that was a big blow." DeKeyser, a 23-year-old native of Michigan, signed a two-year contract with the Red Wings in late March after completing his third year at Western Michigan. He recorded one assist in 11 regular-season games before playing over 16 minutes in each of the first two contests against Anaheim. Babcock told reporters he will replace DeKeyser with Brian Lashoff in Game 3. "He's just smart," the coach said. "He knows how to play and he competes hard."


* Home team is 36-15-1 in the last 52 meetings.
* Under is 19-8-2 in the last 29 meetings in Detroit.
* Under is 11-5 in the last 16 meetings.
* Ducks are 4-9 in the last 13 meetings.
* Ducks are 8-31-1 in the last 40 meetings in Detroit.


1. Detroit RW Johan Franzen recorded the sixth multi-goal performance of his postseason career with a pair of tallies in Game 2.

2. Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk was brilliant in the faceoff circle Thursday, winning 20 of his 28 draws.

3. The Red Wings' power play on the road ranked 23rd in the league during the regular season. The club is atop the league thus far in the playoffs, going 4-for-10.

St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings (-145, 4.5)

St. Louis leads series 2-0.

Big goals and key saves are a must if a team hopes to win the Stanley Cup. The reigning champion Los Angeles Kings are getting neither in their Western Conference first-round series against the fourth-seeded St. Louis Blues. Fifth-seeded Los Angeles hopes its fortunes will change for the better as it looks to avoid a 3-0 deficit with a home victory over St. Louis in Game 3 on Saturday.

The Kings scored just one goal in each of the first two games of the series and watched Jonathan Quick put on a stellar display in net, only to either make a blunder or fail to secure a routine save. The Blues, meanwhile, have received strong goaltending from Brian Elliott and clutch goals from Alex Steen and defenseman Barret Jackman en route to a pair of 2-1 victories.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN West (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE BLUES: While neither of the first two games were cakewalks, St. Louis understands things are about to get even tougher at the Staples Center, where Los Angeles went a superb 19-4-1 during the regular season. "They've obviously collected a lot of points in this building," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I don't know that they play any different, but they really build on momentum of offensive success, especially against us." The Blues own a 2-0 series lead for the first time since 2001, when they went on to sweep the Dallas Stars.

ABOUT THE KINGS: While his teammates refuse to put the blame for Los Angeles' situation on his shoulders, Quick has no problem recognizing his mistakes. "I gotta stop that," the goaltender said. "It's my fault. Two games in a row. I gotta be better." The Kings have yet to score an even-strength goal in the series, a fact that is irking coach Darryl Sutter. "We haven't scored a 5-on-5 goal in almost seven periods," he said. "It doesn't matter how you translate it. You're not going to win any games if you don't score 5-on-5."


* Under is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings in Los Angeles.
* Under is 10-4-2 in the last 16 meetings.
* Home team is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Blues are 2-8 in the last 10 meetings.
* Blues are 0-5 in the last five meetings in Los Angeles.


1. Elliott has won eight straight home starts, allowing one goal in each of the victories.

2. Los Angeles C Anze Kopitar has gone 17 games without a goal.

3. Teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in games have gone on to win the series 86.7 percent of the time.

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