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NHL: Montreal finally a playoff favorite
2021-05-20

The NHL’s goalie of the moment, and maybe the player most responsible for the Philadelphia Flyers' unexpected run toward a Stanley Cup, arrived in Montreal with one simple wish for his 29th birthday. “Just get some rest,” Michael Leighton said Wednesday with a big laugh. OK, but not much. As busy as Leighton has been in registering consecutive shutouts by stopping all 58 shots Montreal has fired at him in the first two games of the Eastern Conference final, the Canadiens are vowing to make it even tougher on him. For Thursday's Game 3, the host Canadiens are listed as -125 favorites.

A day after a 3-0 loss at Philadelphia, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin spent much of a 45-minute meeting attempting to erase 120 minutes of futility by stressing to his players the importance of getting more traffic in front of Leighton as the best-of-seven series shifts to Montreal for Game 3 on Thursday.

Defenseman Josh Gorges is buying in because at this point, scoring a goal— just one—has become the Canadiens primary objective, no matter how it comes. “Even if it’s one of those ugly ones, off someone’s behind or deflecting in off of one of their guys, we’ll take it,” Gorges said. “First of all, I think that would give us a boost, a little confidence to know that he’s not invincible.”

The Canadiens have been resilient this postseason. Seeded eighth, they’ve already rallied from series deficits to knock off both top-seeded Washington and defending champion Pittsburgh in seven games each, however, is 12-21 in home games playing with double revenge.

The seventh-seeded Flyers pulled off maybe the greatest comeback in NHL history just to get here, coming from three games down against Boston and three goals down in Game 7 to beat the Bruins and they are 20-9 off a home win.

The latter part of this journey is doing it with a journeyman goalie. Claimed by the Flyers off of waivers in December, Leighton has grabbed the spotlight since taking over the starting job after Brian Boucher hurt his knee in Game 5 against Boston. Leighton has now won four straight, and has been invincible this series.

Leighton became the first goalie to register two consecutive shutouts in the NHL playoffs since Detroit’s Chris Osgood did it against Pittsburgh in the 2008 Stanley Cup final. His shutout streak of 165:50 is second among Flyers goalies, behind only Boucher, who went 184:45 without allowing a goal in the 2000 playoffs.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette initially balked at answering a question about who the star of his team might be, saying “we’re not a one-guy team.” Laviolette then made an exception regarding Leighton’s performance on Monday. It was a game in which the Flyers led 1-0 after 20 minutes despite being outshot 16-6.

“Michael Leighton gave it to us last night and kept us in that game,” Laviolette said. “So there’s your answer.” This all gave the Flyers their sixth consecutive win.

With a shutout on Thursday, Leighton would become only the seventh player to do it in three straight games, and first since Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s triple-blanking in the 2003 Western Conference finals against Minnesota. “Well, obviously, I’m trying to enjoy it. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” Leighton said. “I haven’t really accomplished too much yet.”

The Flyers are 16-0 in their history when leading a series 2-0, and are now two wins from their first trip to the Stanley Cup final since 1997. They are 5-1 on the road and 5-0 playing with a day between games.

Given how topsy-turvy the East playoffs have been the Flyers aren’t taking anything for granted. “That would be the worst mistake we can make,” center Danny Briere said. “This is far from over. … I’m hoping we’re not going to fall into that trap.”

The Canadiens, meanwhile, are looking forward to playing their first game at home in 10 days. The trouble for Montreal is its offense has been far too one-dimensional, even before it hit the Leighton Wall. Of the 39 goals Montreal has scored this postseason, 19 have come from two players: Mike Cammalleri has 12 and Brian Gionta seven.

Center Tomas Plekanec, who had a team-leading 70 points in the regular season, has managed just four assists in his past 10 games. Play-making forward Scott Gomez has a goal and 10 assists this postseason, but hasn’t scored a goal in his past 15. The Habs are 10-4 on home ice if they have been away for a week or more.

Martin was confident in his team. “We’ve earned the right to be here. We know it’s not going to be easy,” Martin said, before noting how the Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 series deficit against Washington. “A lot of people here, after Game 4 against Washington, weren’t too optimistic. And this group proved them wrong.”

placed Montreal in a very unusual situation; they are favored for the first time in 17 games in the playoffs at -125 on the money line with total of OV5. The Canadiens are 10-5 after losing by three or more goals and 5-0 UNDER after falling to same opponent twice by two or more goals in each contest.

Philadelphia will seek a commanding 3-0 lead but is 1-7 after allowing one goal or less in consecutive outings and is 10-3 OVER when playing in the conference finals.

The VERSUS Network and CBC have the Game 3 action starting at 7:00 Eastern. The StatFox Power Line shows Philadelphia -170




Preview: Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Black Hawks NHL Western Conference Semi-Finals.
2021-05-20

The Vancouver Canucks finished the regular season with 49 wins and 28 losses. For 103 points.. They also lead the Western Conference in goals with 272. Chicago had a record of 52- 22 good for 112 points. They faced each other four times during the season. They split it evenly 2 wins for each. Each team also won one game on the road.


Vancouver defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 in Los Angeles in game six to advance to the semi final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One important factor that aided Vancouver was the fact that the Kings were 0-5 in the power play during game 6 thanks to the penalty killing of the Canucks.


Vancouver and Chicago met in the playoffs last year. The Black Hawks knocked off the Canucks four games to two winning the conference title for the first time since 1995. This is going to be a good match up this year. These are the matchups that NHL bettors dream about. The savvy NHL bettor will find the best situations to bet on in NHL hockey.


Henrik and Daniel Sedin the talented twins will lead Vancouver on the ice with their outstanding abilities to both score and pass. Henrik Sedin finished the regular season with 112 points. Daniel had 85 points but only played in 63 games because of a broken foot. Chicago will need to control the Sedin brothers during the games if they want to win and advance to the finals for the Stanley Cup. Henrick lead the NHL in scoring this season and is a finalist for the Hart Trophy, given to the leagues MVP. During the playoffs so far Daniel had four goals and six assists. Henrik scored one goal and seven assists. Mikael Samuelsson had seven goals and four assists. Samuelsson also led the NHL in goals during the first round of the playoffs. Both he and Daniel Sedin made double-digit points. Henrick lead in assists and scored only one goal.


The Chicago Black Hawks are a favorite this year and have the home ice advantage. As far as talent and superstars goes Chicago has Patrick Kane. He led the team in scoring during the regular season. He had 30 goals and 58 assists. Other top producers for the Black Hawks are Duncan Keith who scored 14 goals and had 55 assists and Jonathan Toews with 25 goals and 43 assists. Toews only played in 76 regular season games. Jonathan Toews lead Chicago in the first round with eight points and most of them came in the final three games of the series.


To get to the semi finals the Black Hawks had to defeat the Nashville Predators in six games. Nashville started strong by winning the first game 4-1. The Black Hawks came back to win the second game 2-0. The Predators won game three 4-1 again. Chicago then came back and won the next three games 3-0, 5-4, and 5-3.


This match up is going to be an offensive battle between the Canucks and the Black Hawks and they do have a long history of not liking each other, which adds to the excitement. It should be a very offensive series with plenty of checking and action and probably some drama as these teams have along history of strong dislike for each other. Vancouver will be looking to get back for the defeat from last season that eliminated them. They had lead the series 2 games to 1 . In game four the Black Hawks came back to win in OT and then went on to win the next two games and clinch the series.


Goal tending will also play a big part in this series. Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, who led team Canada in their gold medal victory during the Olympics, was 2-2 against the Black Hawks this year. He gave up 7 goals last season in the final game against Chicago. The rookie Antti Niemi of the Black Hawks was 1-2 against Vancouver with one shut out. He had two shut outs against the Predators in the first four games. This included a power play goal and a couple of assists to help Chicago win game six


The key to winning this series is in the strong offense of both teams. The goalies will be working hard to keep the puck out of the goal. I think it will be Chicago in 7 games. Who do you think will win? Get over to www.here where everybody bets on NHL hockey.