Anaheim Ducks

Rangers are 2/1 Cup favorites; Lundqvist favored to win Conn Smythe

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The latest Stanley Cup odds, courtesy online bookmaker Bovada:

New York Rangers — 2/1
Chicago Blackhawks — 11/5
Anaheim Ducks — 12/5
Tampa Bay Lightning — 19/4

Now, there’s always some smart guy who mentions it in the comments section, so we might as well beat him to the punch:

No, the odds aren’t always exactly what the oddsmakers believe to be 100-percent true. In this case, there’s possibly been a slight adjustment based on the size of New York’s fan base compared to, say, Tampa Bay’s. Generally, people like to bet on their favorite teams, and an Original Six team like the Rangers, in a big city like New York, has a lot of fans.

Then again, maybe Tampa Bay’s the long shot of the four because the oddsmakers just don’t think the Lightning have been very good in the playoffs. (Which they really haven’t been.)

Anyway, here are the Conn Smythe Trophy favorites:

Henrik Lundqvist — 4/1
Patrick Kane — 17/2
Corey Perry — 9/1
Jonathan Toews — 19/2

Five team stats you may find interesting

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2.00 — Goals per game for the Rangers in these playoffs. The reason they’re in the conference finals is they’ve only given up 1.67 per game, thanks in large part to Henrik Lundqvist (.944 save percentage). Remarkably, six of the Rangers’ eight wins have been by a score of 2-1. Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider lead the Blueshirts with five goals each, followed by Derek Stepan with three, while Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Boyle have two each.

55.4 — Anaheim’s faceoff percentage, the highest of the four remaining teams. The Ducks struggled in this area last postseason, but the addition of Ryan Kesler (63.7% this year), who replaced Nick Bonino (45.8% last year), has really helped them. Should be interesting to see how Kesler does against Jonathan Toews, one of the best faceoff men in the game.

10-1 — The combined overtime record of the four remaining teams, led by the Rangers (4-0). The only team that’s suffered an overtime loss is Anaheim (Game 3 versus Calgary).

48.31 — Tampa Bay’s Corsi close percentage, the lowest of the four remaining teams. Which lends credence to the notion that the Lightning haven’t really played up to their potential in the postseason. In a related story, Ben Bishop was excellent versus Montreal, registering a save percentage of .940 in six games, while outplaying Hart Trophy favorite Carey Price. Let’s see how Bishop does versus Lundqvist.

9 — Power-play goals allowed by Chicago. Six to Nashville, then three more to Minnesota. Poor penalty killing is not something that’s normally associated with successful playoff teams, so the Blackhawks will want to tighten that area up versus the Ducks, who’ve scored nine power-play goals in nine games.

Boudreau: There’s ‘no doubt’ Perry will play in Game 1 of West finals

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There are plenty of questions heading into the Anaheim Ducks’ upcoming series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Bruce Boudreau’s putting a big one to rest, as he told the OC Register that he’s sure that Corey Perry will play in Game 1.

Boudreau said as much even as Perry skips a skating session or two.

“With the time we have off, there’s no rush to get Corey Perry back on the ice,” Boudreau said. “He’s going to get a couple practices before the game and he’s going to play Sunday. There’s no doubt in our minds about that.”

Many had their doubts considering how he left the ice in Game 5 against the Calgary Flames:

He looked tentative when he returned. Of course, he also scored the goal to send them to round three:

Now, Boudreau didn’t say that Perry will be 100 percent, but many would argue that few are at full-strength during this time of year.

Size matchup will be one to watch when Blackhawks meet Ducks

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According to the NHL’s media website, the Chicago Blackhawks have an average weight of 197.3 pounds. Kris Versteeg is the lightest at 176 pounds, which is only slightly lighter than Patrick Kane (177), Teuvo Teravainen (178), and Andrew Shaw (179). There are a few heavy skaters, like Bryan Bickell (223) and Brent Seabrook (220), but for the most part, this is not a gigantic team we’re talking about.

And then there’s the Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks’ next opponent, who boast an average weight of 207.5 pounds. Sure, Sami Vatanen, at just 180 pounds, isn’t very heavy, but Patrick Maroon (231), Ryan Getzlaf (218), and Corey Perry (213) definitely are. Did we mention those three play on the same line?

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is fully cognizant of the size disparity between the two teams. He’s not too worried about it, though.

“I think size and talent is great. But size alone is not the answer,” Bowman told the Sun-Times. “We’ve seen that more than ever with the modern game here in the last few years. It’s never been more friendly for a smaller player to play because it’s really a skill game now. If you have size in addition to that, that’s great. We like big players, too. We don’t have an aversion to that at all. Anaheim does it really well with the players they have. But there’s not one way to win.”

That being said, the size matchup will certainly be one to watch when the ‘Hawks and Ducks kick things off in the Western Conference finals. The undersized Flames had all sorts of trouble handling the big Ducks in their second-round series.

Here’s but one example of what size and strength can do:

The key for the Blackhawks will be to avoid getting cornered like that. The solution? Quick feet. Quick decisions. Quick passes. Or, as Mike Babcock likes to say, “Play fast.”

Fortunately for the Blackhawks, they’re fully capable of doing just that — and that starts with their star defenseman, Duncan Keith.

Save for the goalies, no player is likely to get more ice time in this series than the “freak” Keith, and no player’s performance may be more pivotal. Expect the Ducks to do everything they can to get to him. 

Just don’t expect them to find it easy.

Kings forward Dustin Brown, one of the NHL’s best at getting in on the forecheck, knows what it’s like to try and hunt down Keith.

“For me, it’s just his skating ability,” said Brown. “He has the ability to get himself out of trouble. He’s a real big part of that team from the back end. He’s one of those guys that plays against top guys but also has the offensive side of the game. He’s the best offensive guy on the back end and he really helps those forwards with their transition game because of his heads-up play and he moves the puck really quick.”

PHT Morning Skate: Ducks’ fan gets ‘Corey Perry is a Saint’ tattoo

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Prior to Game 5 an Anaheim Ducks fan on reddit vowed to get a tattoo of the classic Mighty Ducks logo with the words “Corey Perry Is a Saint” written around it. Well the Ducks won 3-2 in overtime on Sunday to advance to the Western Conference final and the fan made good on his promise. (Bar Down)

With Alex Ovechkin guaranteeing a Washington Capitals win in Game 7 tonight, Matt Larkin over at The Hockey News looks at the history of guaranteeing victory in sports. (The Hockey News)

Speaking of Ovechkin’s guarantee, Caps’ coach Barry Trotz applauded his captain for the confident comments.

A fan used his new Apple Watch to track his heart rate during the Rangers’ Game 6 victory on Sunday. (Puck Daddy)

According to Keith Jones, a combination of time off and confidence from Game 6 could prove beneficial for the Capitals especially against a Rangers team full of momentum.