Canada v Europe Hockey Betting Preview Tuesday 28th September By @The_Drewse

Canada v Europe – World Cup of Hockey Final (Game 1) – Air Canada Centre, Toronto at 01:00 live on Premier Sports

I had a mixed bag for my Semi-Final predictions over the weekend. I was spot on for the Canada/Russia game with over 5.5 goals and Canada winning by a two-goal margin (5-3). On the other hand, the second semi-final between Europe and Sweden didn’t go as I predicted, although I did say that it’ll be close, which it was. The game went into Overtime and Team Europe were the surprising victors by a score line of 3-2.

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Canada

Having got past their tricky encounter against the Russians, the Canadians will relish the series against Europe , Canada have steamrolled through their opponents with relative ease.  Head Coach Mike Babcock has found the perfect chemistry with his lines. The top forward line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Sidney Crosby has been the best at the tournament with 16 points between them in just four games.

Although they conceded three in the semis, the Canadian defence has been impressive. Shea Weber and Marc-Edouard Vlasic nullified Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin who had few goal scoring opportunities.  Huge credit must go to Babcock and his coaching staff as they have prepped their team to perfection and are reaping the rewards for it. There was a huge backlash in their decision to snub defence-men P.K Subban and Kris Letang in favour of the more conservative duo of Jay Bouwmeester (who replaced Duncan Keith) and Jake Muzzin.

Europe

The surprise party of this tournament. The team that has consistently been labelled the underdog in each of their four games are now in the final.  Not bad for a team ridiculed as ‘Team Leftovers’. They had the longest odds at 33/1 and now only Canada stand in their way to achieving the unthinkable.

Their head coach Ralph Krueger, has postponed his day-to-day duties as the chairman of Southampton. He has galvanised his team to the promised land. The former Edmonton Oilers coach praised his players for facing up to adversity, not only in this tournament but throughout their careers. “We’ve just got a whole locker room full of guys that have had to fight to get here and had to fight to stay. But, in the end, they’re NHL players and they’re great NHL players.”

Each time Europe has triumphed over their opponent, the pundits have said how the losing side wasn’t on form or weren’t playing to the level that their capable of. At first, you could think this was true, but it’s no fluke that Europe are in the final. The Europeans will be without veteran winger Marian Gaborik due to a lower-body injury he sustained in the semis.

 

Hockey Betting

Sidney Crosby

 

Key Players

Sidney Crosby (Canada)

Captain Crosby has delivered once again on the big stage. Having looked so bereft of confidence in the first half of last season, the Pittsburgh Penguin has enhanced his reputation as the best player in the world. This will conclude a fantastic year for him having won the Stanley Cup in June with the Penguins.  If he maintains his tremendous form he’ll duly receive the MVP award

Brad Marchand (Canada)

Marchand has excelled playing with the aforementioned Crosby. The Boston Bruins agitator scored 2 goals in the 5-3 defeat of Russia combining with him on both goals. He’s a unique player in the fact that he can do all the dirty work and be offensively effective as well. Expect him to ruffle a few European feathers (and hearts) in this series

Tomas Tatar (Europe)

The Slovakian was excellent in the semi-final overtime win over Sweden. The Swedes could not live with the speed of Tatar that eventually cost them the chance to compete in the final. After scoring his first two goals in the tournament,the Red Wing will be baying for Canadian blood

Dennis Seidenberg (Europe)

Seidenberg nearly cost his side the game with a lapse in concentration,  with his experience he then recovered the puck in the same passage of play. The veteran is seeking a new club, after being bought of his contract by the Boston Bruins that ending a 7-year spell in Massachusetts. He’ll be on a couple of teams’ radars having produced solid displays for Team Europe.

Prediction

Despite the fact that Europe have made it this far, I cannot see Canada losing any games in the series. They defeated the Europeans 4-1 in the round robin and were untroubled in that match. A one-game series would of favoured Europe, as anything can happen in one game, but in a three game series, I believe that Canada have got this one sewn up.

Canada to win the series 2-0

Game 1 Recommendation: Under 5.5 goals @ 2.20 with Unibet

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @The_Drewse.

 

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Sweden v Europe Hockey Betting Preview – Sunday 25th September By @The_Drewse

My first hockey betting prediction didn’t go as I envisaged. My dark horses for the tournament Finland are already eliminated having lost their first two games. So I am seeking redemption in this match-up.

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The second semi-final has been decided, as Sweden and Team Europe will battle it out for a place in the final. Europe have exceeded expectations with convincing wins over the United States and the Czech Republic. Although they lost their last round robin game on Wednesday to Canada (4-1). Sweden finished top of the group of death, with their only defeat against North America.

Team Europe have surprised many with the chemistry that they have formulated in a short space of time. The team is represented by eight different countries that aren’t represented in the tournament as a country. Prior to the tournament, they were labelled as the weakest team and one of the critiques of the tournament for replacing an actual country. Regardless of the outcome on Sunday, the European team have justified their position in the competition.

Sweden, as per usual were one of the favourites for the World Cup. They will hope to end a sequence of near misses having finished second and third in the 2014 Olympics and World Championships respectively. As predicted Sweden’s defence and goaltending has been strong. Although starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist missed the first game due to illness.

 

Key Players

Mats Zuccarello (Europe)

The diminutive Norwegian is the leading point scorer for the Europeans (3) and will hope to maintain his good form in the semi-final. Zuccarello had his career year for the New York Rangers last season and led the team with 61 points. He was also nominated for the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award for his perseverance having missed the majority of the 2014-15 playoffs.

Mats Zuccarello

Mats Zuccarello

Roman Josi (Europe)

One of the most underrated defenceman in the NHL. This ties in with the fact that he plays in the non-traditional hockey market of Nashville. The Swiss had another dominant year for the Predators and duly featured in the all-star game. Expect the Europeans to be reliant on him  to move the puck forward consistently.  He’ll also be hoping to score his first point of the competition.

Niklas Backstrom (Sweden)

The unassuming Swede is leading Tre Kronor with three points (1 goal, 2 assists). The centre was controversially suspended for the 2014 Winter Olympics final due to failing a drug test as he was using an allergy medication containing pseudoephedrine. The playmaker will be a major factor for the Swedes for the outcome of this game.

Gabriel Landeskog (Sweden)

In a one off game like this, Sweden will be hoping to see the grit and determination from Landeskog that has made him revered in the league. The Colorado Avalanche captain is one of the premier power forwards in the game at just 23 years of age. In September 2012, he became the youngest captain in NHL history and won the rookie of the year in the preceding year.

 

Prediction

I don’t think either team will win by a blowout but I’m  predicting a relatively low-scoring game with the final at stake. However, it’s worth noting that Europe beat Sweden 6-2 just over a week ago in an exhibition. I do believe that Sweden will just edge the Europeans and I’m backing them for over 4.5 goals at 1.73 with Eastbridge.

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @The_Drewse

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World Cup of Hockey Handicap Betting Preview- Saturday 17th September by @The_Drewse

History and Background

After a 12-year hiatus, the World Cup of Hockey returns. This will be the third installment of the NHL (National Hockey League) sanctioned competition since the inaugural tournament in 1996. It is the successor to the Canada Cup tournament that ran from 1976 to 1991.

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This year’s festivities will take place in Toronto from 17 September to 1 October. With the best players in the world competing to reach the summit of international ice hockey.  Eight teams will be competing, with two new teams replacing Slovakia and Germany of the last tournament.  Europe and North America deputise for this edition. Both teams have criterias to be met for eligibility. For Team Europe all players have to be Europeans not from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. While the North American team is made up of Americans and Canadians aged 23 and younger.

To the outsider this will be confusing as we could potentially have a North America v USA/Canada final.  These two teams were setup in order to have as many NHL players in the competition. This has predictably led to criticisms from many claiming that these two teams will be merely making up the numbers to the tournament as they have a relatively slim chance of winning.  However judging by the pre-tournament warm up matches, there could be a lot of surprises in place.

 

Teams

As mentioned earlier the puck will drop on 17 September with Europe v USA at 20:30 (BST). They’re joined in group A by pre-tournament favourites Canada and Czech Republic. Group B consists of Finland, North America, Russia and Sweden. The semi-finals will commence on the following weekend (24/25 September), with the final being a best of 3 that begins on 27 Sept. and if necessary Game 3 on 1 October.

As you can imagine there are many storylines and subplots to this competition that have led to a sense of ambiguity. None more so than Canada’s goaltender Carey Price. Who endured an injury-plagued campaign for the Montreal Canadiens that saw him limited to just 12 games. How will the 2014-15 NHL MVP respond after missing so much time off the ice. He has look composed in the pre-tournament friendlies, however international ice hockey is more of a sprint than a marathon in comparison to the 82-game regular season of the NHL.

 

Team North America

Smart money could go on North America whose stock has risen following a strong pre-tournament showing. Connor McDavid captains the youthful team and will be hoping that this tournament is one of many highlights in his young career. It will also be interesting to see how Auston Matthews, the #1 pick for this year’s draft plays. Matthews was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs and will be under extreme scrutiny by the local media. Many people in the hockey stratosphere know that Torontonians are one of the most vocal (if not the most).

 

Russia

Following on from the ambiguity theme, not many have mentioned Russia as a legitimate contender. Write them off at your peril! With offensive juggernauts such as Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Vladimir Tarasenko, it’s hard not to seeing them scoring goals at will. On the other hand their defence will not have many opposition offences quaking in their skates. The Russians have been underperforming in international competitions lately, none more so than at the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, that saw their great rivals Canada win the tournament. Can they return the favour and win on their rival’s territory?

 

Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby

Canada

Canada are the clear favourites for the competition. With players such as Sidney Crosby, Price, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Toews who can blame them. The Canadians have gone for the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ format as they’ve kept the majority of the players who won gold at Sochi two years ago in emphatic fashion, with head coach Mike Babcock also retaining his position. The big question is whether the Canadians can deliver on home ice in front of expectant fans.

 

Sweden and Finland

The Nordic countries of Sweden and Finland are on the periphery of the favourites discussion. Finland have a relatively young team, with the second overall pick of this year’s draft Patrik Laine the youngest  at 18. Laine’s joined by his World Junior linemate Sebastien Aho, 19 who were arguably the main reason for Finland’s gold in the competition. As for Sweden they have debatably the strongest defensive core of the tournament and the best offensive defenseman in Erik Karlsson. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist  will be looking to respond following his uncharacteristically poor showing for the New York Rangers in the playoffs.

 

USA

Team USA have gone for a more grittier team than of Sochi two years ago. Notable omissions include Phil Kessel and Kevin Shattenkirk. The inclusion of players such as Jack Johnson and Justin Abdelkader have left a few bewildered. Head coach John Tortorella will hope that the aforementioned duo will give the side more aggression.

 

Team Europe and Czech Republic

The underdogs of the tournament are Europe and the Czech Republic. Intrigue surrounds the European team as it’s a mesh of all the other European countries represented in the league. Can they create chemistry from the get-go? Anze Kopitar captains the side, following another strong year for the LA Kings. Team Europe is one of the older teams of the tournament with an average age of 29.78 years. As for the Czechs, they’ve been going about their business quietly and have performed well in the friendlies. Like the Russians, Czech Republic haven’t got much depth to their defensive contingent. David Krejci, Tomas Hertl and the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr will be huge losses to the side.

My dark horse for the tournament is Finland 35/1 with Bet365

Prices correct at time of writing

By @The_Drewse.

 

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