Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Finals Futures
Tonight, a classic rivalry will be renewed as the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils compete in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals. The series promises to be an exciting one as the latest installment of the "Hudson River Rivalry" gets underway and over at Bovada's online sportsbook, there's a series of futures bets pertaining to the Rangers-Devils series. Let's take a look now.
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Who will win? New Jersey +120, New York -150
A few things to consider for this series:
-- The Rangers went the distance in their opening round series against Ottawa, winning 4-3, then went the distance again in the second round versus Washington. Historically speaking, this is a problem. Since the NHL changed its playoff format in 1968, no team has ever played the full 14 games over the first two rounds and gone on to win the Stanley Cup. It's just too difficult a grind, especially when it gets down to the conference finals and games are being played every other night.
-- The Rangers and Devils were extremely evenly-matched throughout the regular season. The series was split 3-3 (granted, the Rangers had a slight edge in points because one of their losses came in a shootout) and the majority of the games were decided by one or two goals. A big reason for this was the goaltending - Martin Brodeur had a sub-2.00 GAA against the Rangers this year while Henrik Lundqvist was his usual brilliant self against the Devils.
-- The Devils come into this series extremely well-rested. They haven't played since Tuesday - that's when they eliminated Philadelphia in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinal - and will have had six full days off between games. For injured defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov, this is huge. They were both shaken up badly in the Game 5 win over the Flyers and needed as much time as possible to recover.
-- These two teams do not like each other. That dislike manifested itself during the Mar. 19 game at Madison Square Garden, when New York and New Jersey decided to start the contest with a gigantic line brawl. Ryan Carter fought Stu Bickel, Brandon Prust fought Eric Boulton and Mike Rupp fought Cam Jansse…all at the same time. Things escalated after the game when Devils head coach Peter DeBoer called Rangers head coach John Tortorella a hypocrite, and Tortorella responded by telling DeBoer to shut up.
-- The X-factor in this series will be playoff experience. The Devils have a bunch of it with Brodeur, Volchenkov and Zidlicky, but the rest of the roster is relatively green. The Rangers have a former Conn Smythe winner in Brad Richards and a Cup-winning goalscorer in Rupp, but they too don't have a ton of depth in terms of experienced players. It's a narrative worth considering before you throw down - if you had to give an edge, you'd probably give it to the Rangers.
The gloves are off. Bet on NHL Stanley Cup playoff action at Bovada.