The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey is the new site for the Eastern Conference Finals between the Devils and New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. (ET).
We begin with Thursday’s Game 3 of the Western Conference finals featuring the torrid Los Angeles Kings. They look to take a 3-0 lead over the Phoenix Coyotes at 9:00 p.m. (ET) as big 200 home favorites. The total is 4½ and shaded to the ‘over.’
Don Best Sports analyst Brian Blessing was touting the Kings as a dangerous No. 8 seed before the playoffs began and boy was he right! The Coyotes have been outscored 8-2 this series and manhandled last game (4-0 loss). They desperately need a strong start and to get the first goal.
Blessing has a slight lean to the ‘over’ tonight. A lot of bettors are looking at the Kings and the puck line to get a better payout.
Don Best hockey analyst Benjie C. ironically thinks the switch to the road Staples Center could bode well for Phoenix. It is the proverbial ‘us against the world mentality’ and coach Dave Tippett needs to instill confidence in his guys, who are now whopping +750 series ‘dogs.
Switching back to the Rangers, they are cranky after losing 3-2 on their home ice on Wednesday, with the series now all-even at 1-1.
Fiery coach John Tortorella was the poster child for that crankiness. He kept it short with the media after the game, clearly displeased with how his team played and the end result. He has been a master motivator all season and will use last game to inspire his team for Saturday.
The Devils played very strong on Wednesday and the duo of Blessing and Benjie C. both predicted a long series even before the contest. The odds for Game 3 are out and New Jersey is a 130 favorite with a total of 4½ and shaded to the ‘over.’
It is a little surprising to see the Devils as a slightly bigger home favorite than the Rangers were. New York will have plenty of fans making the trek to Jersey and has the goaltending edge of Henrik Lundqvist over Marty Brodeur.
However, New Jersey does have better overall offensive balance with four lines. A perfect example is the underrated David Clarkson getting the game-winner in Game 2 on a tip in the third period.
This should be a great Game 3 and a tremendous rest of the series that many expect will go the full seven games.