NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Preview
by Dave Schwab - 4/9/2012
The NHL closed the books on the regular season this past Saturday and the first-round matchups for the Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Playoffs are now set. Later this week, eight teams will begin their quest to represent the east in the finals in what should be four exciting best-of-seven game series.
The following is a brief look at each matchup along with a few key facts and figures to help handicap the games.
No. 8 Ottawa Senators vs. No. 1 New York Rangers
Ottawa lost eight of its last 13 games, including three straight to close out the regular season to fall to eighth in the East with 92 points and an overall record of 41-31-10. The Senators went 20-17-4 at home this season were 21-14-6 on the road. They had a profitable +1129 return on the money line and a 47-35 record against the puck line.
New York remained at the top in the conference for a good part of the season and was able to hold off a late charge by Pittsburgh to lock up the No.1 seed with 109 points. The Rangers were 27-12-2 at home and posted one of the best records on the road at 24-12-5. They had a 38-44 record against the puck line, but a +676 return on the money line.
The Senators took three out of four from the Rangers this season and are 6-4 in the last 10 meetings dating back to the 2010 regular season. The total has stayed ‘under’ in three of the last five meetings. New York comes into the playoffs with third-best goals-against average in the league at 2.22.
No. 7 Washington Capitals vs. No. 2 Boston Bruins
Washington rallied for four pivotal wins in its last five games to finish with 92 overall points and a record of 42-32-8. The Capitals are 26-11-4 at home this year but have struggled on the road with a 16-21-4 record. They are a woeful 35-47 against the puck line and have a -816 return on the money line.
Boston begins its defense of last season’s Stanley Cup title as the second seed by virtue of winning the Northeast Division title with 102 points. It closed out the season with a 7-2-1 record in its last 10 games overall to improve to 24-14-3 at home and 25-15-1 on the road. The Bruins are also 35-47 against the puck line, but they have a +654 return on the money line.
The Capitals are 3-1 against Boston this year, including two straight road wins as heavy underdogs. Washington has now won five of its last seven trips to Boston and the total has stayed under in five of the last six meetings there. The Bruins were tied with Philadelphia as the second-highest scoring team in the league with a goals-per-game average of 3.17.
No. 6 New Jersey Devils vs. No. 3 Florida Panthers
New Jersey stayed under-the-radar for most of the regular season, but comes into the playoffs riding a six-game winning streak. It finished the year with 102 points and an overall record of 48-28-6. The Devils are 24-13-4 at home this year. Overall, they are 24-15-2 on the road, but just 4-4 in their last eight road games. New Jersey’s record against the puck line is 44-38, but it has a -712 return on the money line.
It went down to the final game of the season, but the Panthers won the Southeast Division title with a record of 38-26-18 and 94 points. They were 21-9-11 at home but an even 17-17-7 on the road. Florida is 42-40 against the puck line and a costly -1057 on the money line.
These two tied the season series at two games apiece with each winning once on the road and once at home. The total went 2-1-1 in the four games. The Panthers had a hard time finding the back of the net this season with a goals-per-game average of 2.40, which was ranked 27th in the NHL.
No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins
Philadelphia won just three of its last seven regular season games, but was able to secure the fifth seed in the East 103 points. It had an overall record of 47-26-9 and was 22-13-6 at home and 24-13-7 on the road. The Flyers have been costly to wager on this season with a -1825 return on the money line and a 29-53 record against the puck line.
The return of Sidney Crosby to the lineup helped propel the Penguins to an overall record of 51-25-6 and the second-most points in the East with 108. They have the conference’s best record at home at 29-10-2. Pittsburgh is 43-39 against the puck line and has the highest return in the NHL on the money line at +2767.
The Flyers banged their way to a 4-2 series edge against their bitter Atlantic Division rivals this season. They won two of three on the road and the total went ‘over’ in three of the last five meetings. Philadelphia is now 5-1 in its last six trips to Pittsburgh. The Penguins enter the postseason as the highest-scoring team in the NHL with an average of 3.33 goals-per-game.
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