The team that has taken the biggest jump on the Stanley Cup futures odds one week into the playoffs is Montreal, which is now a Bovada co-second favorite with Chicago at 6/1 and 9/4 second favorite to the Rangers (2/1) to win the Eastern Conference. Those two can only meet in the East Finals.
The Habs could be the first team to advance as they lead the Senators 3-0 with the first opportunity to clinch Wednesday in Ottawa. However, the Sens are slight -110 favorites.. Which goalie will get the call for Ottawa? Rookie Andrew Hammond started the first two games but allowed seven goals. Craig Anderson got the call in Game 3 and played well but Montreal won 2-1 in overtime. Anderson allowed the tying goal late in the third period to Dale Weise and then Weise won it 8:47 into the first OT. It's likely that Anderson will be the guy. He was Ottawa's starting goaltender two years ago when the Senators eliminated the Canadiens in the first round of the post-season.
The Senators aren't the only team that has made a goalie change. Chicago won a Stanley Cup in 2013 behind netminder Corey Crawford, but he's in his own head right now. Crawford was pulled after allowing four goals in Game 1 against Nashville. Rookie Scott Darling replaced him and was brilliant in Chicago's comeback win. The Hawks stuck with Crawford in Game 2, but he was torched for six goals. It was the most goals Crawford allowed in consecutive games this season. Darling started Game 3 -- Crawford had started 57 consecutive playoff games for the Blackhawks --.and the Hawks won 4-2 to take a 2-1 series lead. It's Darling's job to lose now. Chicago caught a break in Game 3 in that top Predators defenseman Shea Weber missed it with an injury and he'll sit at least Game 4 too. The Hawks are -161 home favorites for Tuesday's game and -380 to win the series. Chicago scored three of its four goals with the Predators' top defensive pairing of Roman Josi and Seth Jones on the ice Sunday.
The Red Wings will stick with rookie Petr Mrazek in Tuesday's Game 3 at home against Tampa Bay with that series tied at 1-1. He made 44 saves in the Game 1 3-2 win but was pulled for Jimmy Howard after allowing four goals on 18 shots in Detroit's 5-1 loss in Game 2 on Saturday. I do think Mrazek will be on a short leash. The Wings will get back winger Justin Abdelkader. He missed the final five games of the regular season and first two games of the Lightning series with a hand injury. Abdelkader was fourth on the Red Wings with 23 goals and tied for fifth with 44 points. Detroit is the only home underdog in Tuesday's four games at +109. Tampa is -165 to win the series.
The Islanders and Flames can each take control of their respective series Tuesday. New York is home to Washington with 2-1 lead and the Isles are -135 favorites. Alex Ovechkin has been held to just one point in the series, a goal in Washington's 4-3 win in Game 2. Meanwhile, Isles star John Tavares has had at least one point in all three games and scored the game-winner on Sunday in overtime. The Caps could be without forward Eric Fehr for Game 4 after he left Game 3 with an upper-body injury. He had 19 goals and 14 assists this season but hasn't scored vs. the Isles.
Calgary is a -115 favorite at home against the Canucks on Tuesday. Game 3 on Sunday was very chippy and Vancouver's Alex Burrows and Flames defenseman Kris Russell got into a fight late in the third period. That could mean a Game 4 suspension for Burrows. By rule, if a player gets an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game, he is automatically suspended for the next game. But Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland avoided a suspension for instigating a fight in the final five minutes of Game 2 on Friday night after the NHL rescinded his penalty so it would be a bit hypocritical to suspend Burrows now. He had 18 goals and 15 assists during the season and has two assists in this series.
Coyotes Big Losers In Draft Lottery
Will Vegas let me put down odds on Edmonton winning the 2017 Stanley Cup right now? The Oilers were the big winners of the weekend's draft lottery, moving up from No. 3 to the top spot and now will get to take Canadian super-prospect Connor McDavid in June's draft. The Oilers are like the Cavaliers of the draft lottery as it was the fourth time in six years that Edmonton won it. That team is going to be really good assuming McDavid is as advertised and the Oilers get a top-notch goalie from somewhere.
Buffalo will draft second and take Boston University forward Jack Eichel, another franchise-caliber talent. The Sabres are a lock to take him but Eichel still could decide to return to BU for his sophomore season. Most observers expect Eichel to eventually pick Buffalo, but maybe the Terriers losing in the NCAA championship game to Providence will sway Eichel to return for another title shot. On Friday night, 24 hours before the lottery, BU announced Eichel would be one of its assistant captains for the 2015-16 season for whatever that's worth. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews was the third pick in 2006 but went back to North Dakota for a second season.
Arizona is the huge loser as it dropped from the No. 2 spot to a No. 3 and there's a big drop-off after Eichel. It's too bad because that market could use some hockey buzz that McDavid or Eichel would have brought.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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