NHL Stanley Cup Predictions: Bruins at Canucks Game 1 Odds and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 6/1/2011
One lengthy drought is going to end in the Stanley Cup Finals between Boston and Vancouver that begins on Wednesday night in British Columbia: Either the Bruins are going to hoist their first Cup since 1972 or the Canucks are going to win their first-ever and bring Lord Stanley’s chalice back to Canada for that country’s first title since the Montreal Canadiens won it in 1993. Either way, it has been quite a year-and-a-half or so for the hockey-mad folks in Vancouver, who got to watch Canada win Olympic gold there in hockey last year thanks in large part to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
Bruins at Canucks Betting Story Lines
Vancouver has home-ice advantage after taking home the Presidents’ Cup this season with 117 points, which was 10 more than any other club. But Boston won the teams’ lone meeting during the year, 3-1, in Vancouver on Feb. 26. B’s goalie Tim Thomas (the only American player on the Bruins in these Finals) made 26 saves and Vancouver native Milan Lucic scored the game-winner off a rebound with 4:38 left in the game (Boston added an empty net goal). Boston held the league’s top offense and power play to just three shots on three chances with the man advantage. Vancouver has never beaten Thomas in three tries – he shut them out in the previous two meetings.
There is one key injury to be aware of and it’s actually a stunner. Canucks center Manny Malhotra, who scored the team’s lone goal in the first meeting, might play in Game 1. He hasn’t played since he nearly lost his left eye March 16 when hit by a deflected puck. Malhotra needed multiple surgeries and was thought to be done for the season. But he might be on the ice wearing a full visor as he has been skating since May 11. It's likely that Malhotra starts Game 1 on the fourth line playing limited time while being used in key faceoff situations (his specialty), and on the penalty kill.
Meanwhile, Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff also will play. He was injured in Game 4 of the conference final when he collided shoulder-to-shoulder with San Jose Sharks forward Jamie McGinn. He did not play in the Game 5 clincher. The Canucks will have had seven days off since finishing San Jose. Boston will have had four days off since finishing Tampa Bay in Game 7 on Friday.
Look for the power play to play a big role. The Bruins' power play conversion rate of 8.2 percent in these playoffs would be lower than any Cup winner in the last 22 years, with the Dallas Stars in 1999 having the worst percentage at 12.1 percent. The Canucks' power play percentage of 28.3 would be higher than any recent Cup winner, with the 1988 Oilers converting at a 26.5 percent success rate as the next closest team. The average Cup winner the past 22 years has had a 19.7 percent power play percentage. And look for whichever team scores first to take the game. Vancouver has won 80 percent of the time in the playoffs when scoring first in the playoffs while Boston has won 89 percent of the time.
Certainly the Canucks have way more firepower. The Sedin brothers have 37 points this postseason while Ryan Kesler is probably the Conn Smythe leader in the clubhouse right now for Vancouver. He has seven goals and 11 assists in the playoffs.
Bruins at Canucks Game 1 Odds and Series Odds and Key Trends
Vancouver is -200 on the Game 1 moneyline at Bodog with the total at 5.5. The Canucks are -235 on the series line.
Bruins is 10-3 in its last 13 games playing on three or more days rest.
Vancouver has won its past four as a favorite.
The ‘over’ is 6-0 in Boston’s past six after allowing two goals or less in its previous game.
The ‘under’ is 4-0 in Vancouver’s past three following at least three days of rest.
NHL Stanley Cup Predictions Bruins at Canucks Picks
Like any Cup Finals, goaltending will decide this one. And the numbers of Thomas and Luongo are amazingly similar: both are 12-6 with a 2.29 GAA. Thomas, who is a lock to win the Conn Smythe should Boston win this series, has a .929 save percentage while Luongo’s is at .922. Both have tended to give up soft goals on occasion, however. Luongo seems to be getting stronger. Starting with Game 7 of the first round against Chicago, he has given up an average of exactly two goals per game. Thomas blanked the Bolts in Game 7, but Tampa Bay also managed three five-goal games in that series.
I think the Canucks are just too deep here. The only way Boston wins this series is if Thomas stands on his head. But he hasn’t really had back-to-back stellar games since the Flyers series. Take Vancouver in Game 1 and in the series in six. And go with the ‘over’ in Game 1.
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