The 2012 NHL Playoffs were quite compelling in round one. The St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings could be on the verge of producing a memorable second-round series.
West Semifinals, Game 3: St. Louis Blues @ Los Angeles Kings – Thursday, May 3
Sports betting line: N/A
Why St. Louis Will Win
When you place a wager on an NHL playoff series, you don’t have to consult sports betting sites in order to realize that a number eight seed has reached the Stanley Cup Finals before. The Edmonton Oilers reached the Cup finals in 2006 before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. However, thats the exception which proves the rule. Are the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings really going to move to the Western Conference finals and then take the next step to the NHLs championship series? Its still doubtful. Los Angeles took a lot of penalties this past Saturday in Game 1, and while the Kings prevailed in that contest, they cant continue to tempt fate.
St. Louis shrugged off a Game 1 home loss in the first round of the NHL playoffs to the San Jose Sharks. It can definitely toss aside a Game 1 loss in this series as well. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is widely regarded as one of the best bench bosses in all of professional hockey. He knows how to motivate his young players and get the best out of them.
Hitchcock has won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars (1999), something L.A. coach Darryl Sutter has never been able to do (though he came close with the Calgary Flames in 2004). Hitchcocks presence will make a difference for St. Louis.
Why Los Angeles Will Win
The people who are studying this contest will calmly point out that your bet on sports needs to look beyond the two-versus-eight seed matchup and identify the strong defense that the Los Angeles Kings are playing in this series and – on a broader level – the 2012 playoffs at large. First of all, netminder Jonathan Quick has been a rock of Gibraltar for Los Angeles in the playoffs. The Kings were brilliant when killing penalties this past Saturday in their Game 1 victory over the Blues. In fact, Los Angeles scored the go-ahead goal in the series opener while being shorthanded.
This is a very wily and crafty group that consistently outflanked and outmaneuvered defending Western Conference champion Vancouver in a breathtaking five games in the first round. Los Angeles has used a simple formula – just get to the postseason, and then when in the playoffs, max out – as its mantra on gamedays. The level of commitment displayed by this team has become too substantial to ignore, its degree of sacrifice – guys risking the body to block shots and deliver hits – too profound to sweep under the rug. This is a rugged team that is flying across the ice at the moment. The Kings hitting and checking, if sustained, will carry them to victory.
Who Will Win?
The goaltending is even and the defenses are even, but the coaching matchup favors St. Louis. Ken Hitchcock will make the right adjustments, and the Blues will win in Southern California.
NHL Betting Pick: St. Louis