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Tag Archive | "2012 NHL Western Conference Semifinals Odds"

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Western Conference Semifinals Los Angeles Kings vs St. Louis Blues Odds and Predictions

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Western Conference Semifinals Los Angeles Kings vs. St. Louis Blues Odds and Predictions: If the best weapon in the Stanley Cup playoffs is truly a hot goaltender, then the Western Conference Semifinal matchup between the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings and the second-seeded St. Louis Blues has an excess of firepower. Two of the top goalies in the NHL this year will be between the pipes, in a series where goals could be tough to come by. The Blues are the highest-remaining seed in the conference, but St. Louis only enjoys the honor because the Kings upset the top-seeded Vancouver Cancuks in the opening round. Los Angeles might not be finished either. The Kings actually won three out of their four meetings against the Blues during the regular season.

Vezina Trophy candidates will headline this series, and after the performance of Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick and St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott in the first round, both sides have reason to be confident. The Blues held San Jose to one goal or less in three of their four wins, while the Kings held the high-powered Canucks to two goals or less in their four wins. Both teams needed just five games to advance into the conference semifinals.

Elliott led the NHL in save percentage (.940) and goals against average (1.56) this season, and Quick finished second in GAA (1.95) and fourth in save percentage (.929). Quick also led the league with 10 shutouts, finishing one ahead of Elliott. On the surface, it would appear Elliott would have the slight edge. However, he was part of a two-goalie rotation most of the season with Jaroslav Halak, and Halak’s status for this series is in question after he injured his ankle against Vancouver. Elliott has been incredible, but he hasn’t had to carry the load by himself. Quick put up his numbers in 69 starts compared to just 38 starts by Elliot. Quick has proven himself to be durable, but Elliott may not be ready to handle a long series in net without Halak’s help.

In a series that is likely to be low scoring, a hot scorer could make the difference. For St. Louis, veteran Andy McDonald appears to be the guy. He already has four goals and four assists in five games this postseason, and after missing much of the regular season with an injury, he should be well rested. Los Angeles will counter with the dynamic duo of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Kopitar has three assists in the playoffs, while Brown has four goals. Kopitar 25 goals and 51 assists during the regular season, and he is probably the most talented player on the ice in this series outside of the two guys in net. If there is an offensive player that is going to tip the scale, it is Kopitar.

These two teams are essentially mirror images of each other. Neither side has a high-powered offense, but St. Louis and Los Angeles ranked first and second in terms of goals allowed this season. An easy goal in any game could be a back breaker, and the team that wins the series will likely be the one that gets the better effort out of its goaltender. Quick has already shown he can shut down the high-scoring Vancouver attack, and he should be able to do the same to an average Blues’ offense. Throw in the fact that Elliott may have to go out of his comfort zone and play every game, and the stage is set for another Los Angeles upset.

Prediction: Los Angeles Kings Win in 7 Games

Get expert NHL handicapping picks, tips and predictions daily from World Champion Handicapper Sonny LaFouchi(aka The LEGEND) only on NSAwins.com! Plus check out daily updated odds to win the 2012 Stanley Cup!

Los Angeles Kings vs St Louis Blues Series Price
4825 Los Angeles Kings +150
4826 St Louis Blues -170

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2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Western Conference Semifinals Nashville Predators vs Phoenix Coyotes Odds and Predictions

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Picks: Western Conference Semifinals Nashville Predators vs Phoenix Coyotes Odds and Predictions: Neither Phoenix nor Nashville is generally thought of as a hockey town, but the third-seeded Coyotes and fourth-seeded Predators are attempting to change that. The two franchises don’t exactly have a ton of tradition when it comes to the playoffs, and Phoenix’s division title this season was the first by either team in its current location. With the two sides set to face off in the Western Conference semifinals, one team is going to move one step closer to playing for its first-ever Stanley Cup. However, neither side is likely to be an easy out.

It’s tough to gauge this series based on the regular season results. Phoenix and Nashville split four meetings, and the road team one every game. Not to mention the fact that the two teams have met just once since early December. Both teams have undoubtedly changed a lot in the several months in between, and the regular season stats might as well be thrown out the window.

What shouldn’t be discounted are the similarities between both teams on the both ends of the ice. Phoenix and Nashville are defensive-minded teams with strong options in net. Both sides ranked in the top 10 in terms of fewest goals allowed in the NHL this season, and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Phoenix’s Mike Smith both ranked in the top seven in terms of save percentage this season. Smith had the slightly better individual numbers, but Rinne put up his solid numbers while making the most appearances of any goalie in the league.

If the first round was any indication, Nashville’s defense may have the slight edge. The Predators held Detroit to two goals or less in their four wins, dispatching the Red Wings in five games. Granted, Phoenix held Chicago to two goals or less five times in its opening-round series, but the Coyotes needed six games to advance past the Blackhawks after blowing a couple leads throughout the series. Not to mention the fact that Phoenix has to be a little worn down because all six games against Chicago went into overtime.

While both teams bring strong defenses and goaltending to the table, the X-factor could be the Nashville offense. Phoenix ranked just 18th in the NHL this season with 210 goals, while the Predators ranked in the top 10. The scary thing for the Coyotes is that the Nashville offense is much better now than it was during most of the regular season thanks to the return of right wing Alexander Radulov. He played just nine games during the regular season after returning from a four-year hiatus to the KHL, but Radulov has looked every bit the former first-round pick in the postseasons. He has a goal and four assists in five games and is leading the Predators in points. In other words, Radulov is a powerful weapon that has been added to a Nashville offense that already had the edge.

Meanwhile, Phoenix’s offense has been led by overachieving veterans Radim Vrbata (35 goals) and Ray Whitney (53 assists). Nashville already picked apart a veteran Detroit team in the first round, and the Predators could have too much speed and firepower for the Coyotes, as well. Throw in the fact that Phoenix’s hard hitter Raffi Torres is suspended for the entire series and beyond, and the Coyotes may not have the athleticism to hang with Nashville.

In the end, the Coyotes are going to live and die with Smith between the pipes. He finished third in the NHL this year with eight shutouts, and if he plays a like a brick wall, Phoenix can win this series. However, Nashville’s Rinne is no slouch in net, and he has better pieces around him, especially on offense. Even though Phoenix is the No. 3 seed and won its division, the Predators actually had more points during the regular season. Smith’s presence alone will give the Coyotes a couple of games, but the Predators balance should prevail.

Prediction: Nashville Predators Win in 6 Games

Get expert NHL handicapping picks, tips and predictions daily from World Champion Handicapper Sonny LaFouchi(aka The LEGEND) only on NSAwins.com! Plus check out daily updated odds to win the 2012 Stanley Cup!

Nashville Predators vs Phoenix Coyotes Series Price
4827 Nashville Predators -170
4828 Phoenix Coyotes +150

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