Both Winnipeg and and Ottawa, two very exciting and rough and ready teams are up to elimination tonight in the NHL playoffs. With only 5 teams in the playoffs thispost season, 2 could already be out tonight with games against powerhouses Anaheim and Montreal respectively. No one expected them to win out right but both being down 3-0 is also a big surprise. This is a great scenario for betting as usually when teams are forced into a corner – they come out flying.
Montreal @ Ottawa
The first three games have all been won by a one goal differential. They were tight and hard fought and could have gone either way. Except that the Sens find themselves at the shortend of the stick this time and are in a very big hole that very few teams have dug themselves out of in the NHL’s post season history.
Craig Anderson will get the start, his second in a row since Feb 14th, and it’s probably because of his stellar play which almost stole them the win in game 3. They are counting on Anderson’s proven playoff record. “I don’t make any decision lightly,” Sens coach Dave Cameron said. “A lot of thought goes into everything. He has a proven playoff record of being a real good goalie.” After pondering a goalie change Cameron confirmed Anderson wouldget the start for Game 4 instead of the goalie, Andrew Hammond, who got them there. “For us we have to treat it as another game,” Anderson said. “If you put too much pressure on it, it can go in the wrong direction for you. I think we have to focus on one period at a time, one shift at a time and not really think too much about the consequences and at the end of the day leave everything on the table and see what happens.”
For weeks the Ottawa Senators have played every game as if it was their last. Now they truly face that reality on home ice. the Senators know it’s now or never. “If we lose a game now our season is over,” said Senators captain Erik Karlsson. “It feels like we’ve been playing games like this for a while now. “We need to find a way to win one game.” If they can win one game they can build from taht since this series is not a blowout like was predicted by some hockey gurus. Ottawa has speed and talent and now they just have to punch through, if not for a win then for pride. The Sens went on an improbable run at the end of the season just to make the playoffs, and need the same focus to accomplish that tonight. Cameron’s message to his team before they hit the ice tonight:“Let’s play the first period three times.”
Our Pick: Sens over Habs for the moral victory
Anaheim @ Winnipeg
There are no more second chances, no room for forgiveness for the Winnipeg Jet either. One more loss and the Jets’ season, which was so promising going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will be over in a heartbeat.
The Ducks have manhandled the Jets so far and Winnipeg have not found a way to solve the pesky Ducks. They have now beat them all six times they’ve met this season, one of them in a shootout.
“You look at the big picture, it might seem overwhelming,” Jets’ assistant captain Blake Wheeler told media pregame. “But that’s one thing about our team, is we’ve been able to focus on one game all year and pour everything into it. That’s the one thing that brings me confidence and excitement about the game. All the repercussions about winning, losing, all that, at this point we’re able to throw that out the door and just pour everything we have into (Wednesday) night.”
What does the Jet’s odds look like to win four in a row? Winnipeg won four or more games in a row twice during the regular season so it is possible but highly unlikely. But stranger things have happened, especially in California, where the LA Kings came back from several on-the-ropes scenarios to then go on to win their first Stanley Cup. That is something which is not wasted on Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen, who told the media scrum this afternoon, “You’ve got a team on their heels and we have our foot right on the throat where we want it, so we’ve just got to finish them off. We don’t want to give them any hope.”
Hope may be in short supply and maybe that’s why Winnipeg announced Wednesday afternoon that their highly-touted prospect Nik Ehlers, is being called up to the big club to play tonight. He had 37 goals and 64 assists for 101 points in 51 games on the Halifax Mooseheads minor hockey team. Jets fans on social media are not giving up hope either as Twitter was aflutter with positive messages for their team, making the call for a comeback of cinematic proportions.
Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau knows a little about post-season antics and predicted that “It’s not like we’re going to take it easy. We’re going to keep going as hard as we can because we know how tough this team has been to beat.” Boudreau sounded like he felt lucky to be up 3-0. “Let’s not forget that we haven’t held the lead for more than 10 minutes all series,” he said. “So this could very easily be the other way.”
Will it go the other way tonight? We think so.
Our Pick: Jets over Ducks