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NHL Playoffs Breakdown

   by Ben Burns - 04/25/2006

The first dozen games have now been played in the 2006 NHL playoffs. Goal scoring is up from previous years and 'underdog' bettors have enjoyed an early edge.
A statistical breakdown appears below.

Goal scoring
The NHL playoffs, and playoffs in general, are generally associated with tight, low-scoring games. That hasn't been the case yet this year though. As we saw in the regular season, the referees have continued to frequently blow their whistles. This has led to numerous power-play opportunities with the playoff games averaging 5.8 goals per game. I suspect that we'll see that scoring average decrease over the coming weeks.
Despite the high scores, the 'over' only holds a slight 6-5-1 advantage thus far. There has only been one shutout and no games have produced greater than seven goals. Three games went to overtime and all three of them still stayed 'under' the number.

Salvaging a split on the road
It has been an old adage in the NHL that the road team wants to earn a 'split' in the first two games of the series. That's exactly what happened on Sunday, as all four losing teams from Friday bounced back to score 'upsets' on Sunday. Four of the eight series' are now tied at one game each. The remaining eight teams, who have played only one game thus far, will be in action tonight.
After a strong start, home teams and 'favorites' enter Tuesday’s action with a money-burning 6-6 record. Favorites are an even worse at 3-9 when laying minus 1 1/2 goals.

Top seeds in trouble?
In the NBA the teams which have earned the No 1 seed (Detroit and San Antonio this season) are virtual 'locks' to advance to the second round. This isn't always the case in the NHL. It’s obviously still very early but both of this year's top seeds appear to have their hands full.
In the West, the Red Wings needed double overtime to defeat the Oilers in Game 1. Edmonton bounced back to win the second game by a 4-2 score. The Oilers, who have played the Wings tough all season, appear to have found their groove and will play three of a possible five games at home.
In the East, the top seeded Carolina Hurricanes were handed a humbling 6-1 loss by the Canadiens in their first game.
The Hurricanes actually held a commanding 43-21 shots-on-goal advantage. However, their goalie, Martin Gerber, was severely outplayed by Montreal's Cristobal Huet.
It will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes stick with Gerber when the teams face each other for Game 2 in Raleigh tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET.

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