We’re re-visiting our Panel Picks feature this week on DailyFaceoff.com in order to give you varying perspectives on some of the matchups that will take place in the opening round of the playoffs. Our panel will each pick one series bet as their favourite value play, and each play will then be rated by two members of the panel (in a “Faceoff”) – shedding more light on the quality of the pick. Please keep in mind that the keyword here will be ‘value’, and hence, you will not likely see the San Jose Sharks be talked about here at -660!
Facing off this week will be:
– The Face of DailyFaceoff.com: Matt Bennett
– Internet Super-Ninja: Ricky Daniels
– International Radio Personality: Alexander Monaghan
– Frustrated Computer User: Jeff Tay
Let’s drop the picks!
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I don’t actually doubt that the Kings can really give the Canucks a run for their money in this series. At this point in time, the defensive capabilities of Los Angeles seem to be a lot more reliable than those of Vancouver’s, and especially so, now with varying degrees of injuries to Shane O’Brien, Sami Salo, and Ryan Johnson. The Canucks were the team to fear about a month ago, but now it just seems like Vancouver is the team that has the most to worry about, and therefore, the sizeable underdog here in LA appears to offer a great deal of value.
Response #1 – Ricky: I’ll put it this way, my bracket on NHL.com definitely had a different story for this matchup. There are definitely some great forwards on the Kings team and Quick has had an absolute breakout year, but the problem is that Quick will never be better than Luongo. Luongo will show strong and be backed by the Art Ross trophy winner. Vancouver can easily poach a couple wins on the road and finish the series at home in 5, if you ask me.
Response #2 – Alexander: On this bet, I need to disagree. The Canucks display everything they the Penguins succeeded with last season. Strong top line, two star centers and an excellent goaltender. Salo constantly misses games while missing O’Brien can easily be replaced with Andrew Alberts. Ryan Johnson may be their biggest loss but Matt Pettinger brings an excellent penalty killer to the table.
With Kevin Bieksa returning to health, this defensive core looks better. Christian Erhoff looks healthy while Alexander Edler rounds out the top four. If Willie Mitchell can return to the lineup this defensive corps will be as good as their scoring depth. According to the Vancouver Sun, Aaron Rome may be the defenseman missed the most which honestly does not scare me against an inconsistent Kings offense.
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The season record in this matchup is just too intriguing to ignore. Going against my goaltending arguement for Vancouver, I think that Brodeur will not be able to stop the Flyers’ offense and the distraction of a Kovalchuk that just hasn’t found his groove with the Devils will send them home early this year. Record and price make this hard to pass on.
Response #1 – Jeff: I understand that a head-to-head record doesn’t necessarily mean everything, but 5-1 straight up this season has to turn a few heads, and at +190 the price now has me turned all the way around and staring right at Philadelphia here. Obviously, there is a significant gap between the quality of goaltending at both ends of the rink, but all of the other factors that make a favourite seem imposing, such as intimidation and better overall talent, are virtually nonexistent in this matchup. Philadelphia appears to be the right play here.
Response #2 – Matt: I don’t understand the Flyers love. They barely got into the postseason (shootout, really?) and their top 2 goaltenders are on the mend. Laviolette had so little faith in Boucher that he hardly used him when Emery went down and was forced to battle through the pains when Leighton went down. Brodeur is a playoff performer and would like to put the 2009 playoffs and 2010 Olympics behind him. Devils take it easy.
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Not a terrible play when you consider the Sharks hold some of the same critical players on their roster as last season, meaning the choke factor still exists. Dany Heatley should make a huge difference over Devin Setoguchi as a primary goal scorer but Evgeni Nabokov fared quite poorly against the Avalanche during the regular season with a 3.62 GAA. He will desperately need to improve those totals to have a chance against a young and hungry Avalanche team.
Response #1 – Matt: Nabokov can collapse again and it’ll be his ticket out of town but Heatley gives the Sharks another much-needed playoff scoring threat to take the load off of Joe Thornton. The Avs are just too young and stumbled into the playoffs while the Sharks enter at 8-1-1 over their last 10. Still a good season, Avs fans!
Response #2 – Jeff: If I had to choose between Colorado +375 and San Jose -665, then I’d have to say that this is the right way to go. I do think that the Sharks are better equipped this season to ultimately reach their potential, but if they were to lose either game #1 or game #2 and then lose game #3 in Colorado, we all know what the headlines are going to read, and I can’t imagine that the Sharks won’t be a little bit rattled.
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Not only do I have the Sabres easily sidestepping the Bruins in the first round but I can easily see them in a scenario putting them in the conference finals. The argument can be made that they have the most consistent goaltending of any team in the playoffs and we all know how vital good goaltending is in the postseason. Buffalo’s scoring is well distributed over their top 2-3 lines and their players have been here before. Boston is lucky to even be in the postseason, down their top offensive threat Marc Savard, but could still steal a game or two with great goaltending from Rask. Boston might be out to avenge their early postseason exit last season but I see Buffalo taking this series quite handily.
Response #1 – Alexander: Ryan Miller proved this season he can carry a team and will. Both teams actually boast a similarly anemic offense but the Sabres appear less frustrating than a Savard-less Bruins team. The Sabres will be getting healthy and their key players like Tim Connolly back in the lineup as well as receiving contributions from their talented rookies making their offense much more dangerous. Thomas Vanek just played his best game of the season lending hope to actually getting healthy. At -180 they may be the safest bet in the playoffs, Rask looks to be a future star netminder but rookies rarely show the amount of poise she has in the regular season.
Response #2 – Ricky: Bruins poor offense against a Miller that shows up big under pressure means Sabres take this series easily. The price is a little chalky, but as long as they win it’s worth it and that’s what the Sabres will do. They might be facing tough goaltending, but that’s even more true for the Bruins. Offensive advantage gives this to Buffalo.