Stanley Cup Odds: Kesler Leads Conn Smythe Candidates
by Richard Gardner | Bodog Sportsbook Manager - 5/31/2011
The pucks drops on the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday as the Vancouver Canucks host the Boston Bruins at Rogers Arena. This should be a great series, and I know we’ll book a lot of action on it, perhaps the most NHL betting in Bodog history. Vancouver is a heavy -235 favorite to hoist hockey’s holy grail, while the B’s can be had at a tempting +195.
After falling off in popularity after the 2004-05 lockout, the Bruins are the talk of Beantown as they look to join the city’s 21st-century sports championship party, which has featured three Super Bowls, two World Series and an NBA title. The last time the B’s won the Stanley Cup was 1972, when legendary defenseman Bobby Orr won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
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This year, however, the Conn Smythe favorite plays for the Bruins’ opposition. The Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup in the franchise’s 40-year history, but American forward Ryan Kesler might finally lead Vancouver hockey fans to the promised land in 2011.
We’re giving Kesler 27/20 odds to win the Conn Smythe, thanks to his excellence at both ends of the rink, not to mention the gritty determination he’s shown this postseason. Case in point: Vancouver’s last game against San Jose, when he fought through an injury to score the tying goal with less than a minute to play. The Canucks went on to eliminate the Sharks in overtime and Kesler was a big reason why.
Kesler has been a popular bet not only with Canucks fans, but also those in American cities other than Boston that would like to see a fellow countryman win arguably the NHL’s greatest individual honor.
The 26-year-old sits fourth in NHL scoring (18 points), three points behind teammate and league leader Henrik Sedin, who’s at 11/2 to be named MVP. Sedin tore apart the Sharks in the last round, but struggled for much of the first two Vancouver series. He’ll also have to deal with Boston’s leviathan, Zdeno Chara, one of the best shutdown defensemen in hockey.
While the Conn Smythe Trophy has been awarded to players on the losing team five times since 1965, it’s tough to see that happening this year. Perhaps Boston goalie Tim Thomas (4/1) could stand on his head and lose and still get the nod, but that’s a long shot. However, if the Bruins happen to upset the Canucks, Thomas will almost certainly have played a large role.
Another player that’s drawn some action is Boston forward David Krejci, at 15/1. Krejci might not be a household name, but he leads his team in goals with 10 and will need to show up in this series to give his team a chance. At 15/1, it might be a risk worth taking.
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