2012 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Betting Preview
by Dave Schwab - 5/28/2012
The NHL is down to its final two teams in this season’s march to the Stanley Cup title, with the surprising New Jersey Devils coming in from the Eastern Conference and the red-hot Los Angeles Kings representing the West. The best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals gets underway this Wednesday night with the first of two games at the Prudential Center in Newark. The series shifts to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for Game 3 on Monday, June 4, and Wednesday, June 6. It will then alternate coasts for the last three games if necessary.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings run to their first Western Conference title since 1993 was nothing short of spectacular with a 12-2 record in their first three series. They ousted the No.1-seed Vancouver Canucks in five games in the first round. Los Angeles followed this up with a four-game sweep of the No.2-seed St. Louis Blues in the conference semifinals and a five-game pasting of the No.3-seed Phoenix Coyotes in the conference finals. It is little wonder that Bovada has opened the Kings as -170 favorites to win this series as well.
The main firepower behind the Kings’ attack has been forward Dustin Brown and center Anze Kopitar. These two scoring machines have combined for 13 goals and 18 assists in 14 games. The team has also shown some impressive balance with four other players tallying at least three goals over the course of the three series.
Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick deserves a good deal of the credit for his team’s run so far. He has compiled a goals-against average of 1.54 and a .946 save percentage in the postseason as compared to a regular-season GAA of 1.95 and a save percentage of .929. He has stood on his head on many occasions and allowed more than two goals in just two of the 14 games.
New Jersey Devils
Bovada has opened New Jersey as a +150 underdog in this series, but that should not faze the Devils, who have been fighting an uphill battle ever since securing the No.6-seed in the East. They faced No.3-seed Florida in the first round and prevailed with back-to-back 3-2 victories in overtime as favorites to win the series 4-3. Things started to click from that point on as the Devils plowed-though No.5-seed Philadelphia in five games in the conference semifinals and then sent No.1-seed New York packing in six games in the conference finals.
New Jersey is now 8-2 in its last 10 games while outscoring its opponents by a combined score of 30-21. The Devils racked up 12 goals in their final three games against the Rangers with MVP-candidate Henrik Lundqvist in goal for New York. Their aggressive-attack style of play has been led by a trio of sharpshooters in Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac, and Zach Parise. These three have combined for 21 goals and 23 assists in 18 postseason games.
The other reason that New Jersey finds itself playing for this year’s NHL title has been the ability of 40-year-old veteran Martin Brodeur to turn back the clock and play lights out in goal when he needed to the most. He comes into this series with a GAA of 2.04 and a .923 save percentage as compared to a 2.41 GAA and .908 save percentage in the regular season.
The Kings have been opened as -120 road favorites for Wednesday night’s Game 1 with the total set at five. They are a perfect 8-0 on the road in this year’s playoffs and 6-1 in their last seven games as favorites on the road. The total has gone ‘over’ in three of their last five games as road favorites.
The Devils are 5-2 in their last seven games following a win and 4-1 in their last five games as underdogs at home. The total has stayed ‘under’ in three of their last five games following a win.
The underdog is 4-1 in the last five meetings and the total has stayed under in four of those games. They met twice in the regular season with New Jersey coming away with a 2-1 shootout victory as a +107 home underdog and 3-0 shutout as a -155 road favorite, but both games were played in the month of October.
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