Thursday, 12 April 2012

Collation of Guest Blog Spots

Running Total : +90.32 pts

Jockey Club Stakes
Newmarket, May 5th
Results : +28pts, happy with that, carry on

Punchestown Champion Hurdle
Punchestown, April 27th
Results : +12.35pts, should've been braver.

Maghull Novices' Chase
Aintree, April 14th
Rsults : +23.6pts, this was an easy one.

Melling Chase
Aintree, April 13th
Results : -10pts, stinker, move on.

Dubai Golden Shaheen
Meydan, March 31tst
Results : +45pts, bazinga, race run exactly as suspected, favourite split up my exactas otherwise would've been huge.

Grand Annual Chase
Cheltenham, March 16th
Results : -8.37pts, not great, but made some positive comments on the winner.

Cross Country Chase
Cheltenham, March 13th
Results: Got the right 2nd place, but nothing else. No pointed staking plan.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Eastern Conference Preview

NHL Playoffs Preview 2012

The most exciting part of the year has arrived, the quest for Lord Stanley's Cup. Sixteen teams remain in the hunt including the defending champion Boston Bruins. Let's have a closer look at this year's opening round match-ups and see if we can find a bit of value to have a punt, or something silly to bet with your mates. We'll start in the East.


#1 New York Rangers (H: 27-12-2, A: 24-12-5, 109pts)
#8 Ottawa Senators (H: 20-17-4, A: 21-14-6, 92pts)

The Rangers started the season strong and maintained that pace throughout the season, playing solid hockey and not really being troubled too much. The team is built on solid defense and physicality in front of some excellent goaltending. Lundqvist probably will and definitely should win the Vezina Trophy and on top of a good well spread offense, this year the Rangers added Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik who provided 142 points between them. The penalty kill is solid and ranks 4th amongst teams in the playoffs, but their power play is 14th of those teams and needs some improvement for the Rangers to make it all the way.
Key Man : Ryan Callahan, captain fantastic leads by example and will drive this team forward.

Ottawa rely heavily on their All-Star "selections" (see previous blog about that) in Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson. They slumped into the playoffs after dropping back from Boston in the Northeastern division. They should've been pushing for the 6th seed, but only made the 8th spot because the Sabres were so dire in the last month of the season. The Sens have solid, if not spectacular goaltending and their special teams units rank middle of the pack. If they're going to have any chance, their Power Play needs to be firing on all cylinders and they'll need to improve their PK drastically.
Key Man : Eric Karlsson, only 21 but a two-time All Star and 59 assists this season could help offensive output.

FIRST GAME: Thursday 7pm ET, NHL Network
PREDICTION: Nothing special, Rangers win in five games. (10/3 @ Bet365)
EXOTIC BET: New York -6.5 goals over Ottawa

#2 Boston Bruins (H: 24-24-3, A: 25-15-1, 102pts)
#7 Washington Capitals (H: 26-11-4, A: 16-21-4, 92pts)

The defending champions got off to a slow start, mainly because of their long season (25 playoff games) and took a while to get going. Through November and December however, they were the best team in hockey, when we got to January they started slumping again. They enter the playoffs with a bit of momentum going 9-2-1 in their last 12. Injuries to key players like Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley and Tuukka Rask meant that lines were changed frequently and call ups from the minors were fairly regular. As a result Boston probably have the most balanced attack in the NHL, they were the only team with 6 different 20 goal scorers and they also have the best goal differential in the league. They had the top 5 players in the plus/minus category, and this year's presumptive Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron finished 2nd in face-off percentage. All that said, the Caps have owned them 3-1 this season, so it'll be up to the Bruins to send a message early that the playoffs are their time of year and send Washington home early.
Key Man: Tim Thomas, reigning Conn Smythe and Vezina winner is nearly 38 and with Rask's injury he's played a lot more games than anybody wanted. If he shows the same form as last season, Boston could be the first back-to-back winner since Detroit.

The Caps are an enigma, after Bruce Boudreau lead them to a couple of #1 seeds and a president's trophy, the ownership in Washington decided they'd rather have post-season than regular season success, showed him the door and brought in Dale Hunter. The Caps are still a team that relies far too heavily on Alex Ovechkin and their goalkeeping tandem doesn't seem to be working well either. They have a bit of momentum coming into the playoffs and nearly stole the #3 seed from the Panthers, so that will carry them forward into this series and make things a bit more competitive with Boston.
Key Man: Alexander Ovechkin, the Caps play as Ovechkin plays. No Ovi, no hope.

FIRST GAME: Thursday 7.30pm ET, NBC
PREDICTION: Back and forth series but more frustration for Caps fans, Boston win in seven games (7/2 @ Bet365)
EXOTIC BET: Series total goals over 36.5

#3 Florida Panthers (H: 21-9-11, A: 17-17-7, 94pts)
#6 New Jersey Devils (H: 24-13-4, A: 24-15-2, 102 pts)

Probably the least exciting match-up of the first round for me. The Panthers make their first postseason appearance since the lock-out and I don't think they'll last long. They added a few decent free agents and made some good trades before the season, the best of those being Tomas Fleischmann who led them in points and goals. Goaltending continues to be and issue and they are one of only two postseason teams with a negative goal difference. Their weak penalty kill could expose them as the Devils have the best PP of the teams left. Florida's strong home record will be the only thing keeping this season alive.
Key Man: Tomas Fleischmann, the driving force in the offense, he has to have a big series to give the Panthers hope.

The Devils suffered from being in the strongest division in the NHL, they finished 4th in the Atlantic Division with 102 points. Ilya Kovalchuk's acquisition finally seems to be paying dividends and strong contributions from Zach Parise and Patrik Elias have paced the team throughout the season. Brodeur looks to be having his last hurrah in net and this looks like one of his last chances to win another Cup. The Devils strong and quick play should be enough to set them up for a second round date with the Rangers and it seems a question of when rather than if they beat Florida

FIRST GAME: Friday 7pm ET, NHL Network
PREDICTION: The Devils have too much and a couple of home wins for Florida extends the series, New Jersey win in six games (3/1 @ Bet365)
EXOTIC BET: Total goals in series under 30.5

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins (H: 29-10-2, A: 22-15-4, 108 pts)
#5 Philadelphia Flyers (H: 22-13-6, A: 25-13-3, 103pts)

The series everyone wants to see, Crosby is back for the Penguins and Malkin is this season's Hart Trophy winner, Evgeni led the league in points with 109 and was second in goals with 50 only behind Steven Stamkos who probably playing golf right now. Stellar goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury and  real toughness and great coaching from Dan Bylsma has led this team through most of the season without their captain and the NHL's biggest star in Crosby. They have a good PP at 19.7%, an excellent PK at 87.8% and the league's second best goal differential at +61, so you'd expect this series to be tight, well it might be for the first couple of games, but once the cross-state emotion kicks in there will be fights, goals and everything else you'd want in a series.
Key Man: Sidney Crosby, the captain has been missing most of the season through injury but his return came at the right team and he could lead this team all the way to the Finals.

The Flyers recovered from their tough festive period and losing in the Winter Classic to the Rangers, and with Claude Giroux concussion-free added to the career best figures from Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds, Philly have recover to finish the season well. They still struggle for consistency in the goaltending department and have missed Chris Pronger and his abnormally shaped head massively this season. Big free agent signing Ilya Bryzgalov had a dip in confidence, co-incidentally shortly after his "Universe" piece on Road to the Winter Classic, and Sergei Bobrovsky hasn't been that great deputising. For a team that changes goaltenders like toothbrushes, Bryzgalov has been better than most in recent memory, and it's upon that foundation the Flyers' hopes will rest. There will be plenty goals in this series so it's going to come down to Bryzgalov to save some shots that he shouldn't and hold everything he should.
Key Man: Ilya Bryzgalov: In a town where sports fans boo Santa, it won't take much to chase the Russian from the net, but if he's solid, Philly have a chance

FIRST GAME: Wednesday 7.30pm ET, NHL Network
PREDICTION: A war of attrition shall ensue and the Pens will just have enough to sneak it, Pittsburgh win in seven games (7/2 @ Bet365)
EXOTIC BET: Total penalty minutes in the series over 140.5

PART 2 previewing the WESTERN CONFERENCE, will be put up tonight, at Primetime Pacific Time.