CDL 05 "A" Vegas Odds
1. AngryJay93 (SJS) - 900 8. Scribe99 (LAK) + 900
Season Series (3-1 SJS)
@angryjay93, a.k.a CalmGreg, has put together the best regular season record in the CDL A league history in these first 5 seasons, going 35-9 (.795), averaging 5.29 GF/G and a GA/G of 2.81, for a GDIF of 2.48! That also happens to be 2nd all-time best GDIF, only eclipsed by AJ's second season (2.57), in which he went on to win a CDL title. The Sharks forward lineup is nothing fancy - a mix of Ricci | Shanahan | Savard, each ending up with over 100 points this season. If the forwards are a weak spot, I can't really tell!
On the backend, the defense is one of the most formidable ever put together with Ray Bourque and Chris Chelios. They are responsible for keeping those shots against to a minimum (#1 rank again) while contributing a fairly decent amount to that offense. If there's a true weak point in the Sharks roster it's Kelly Hrudey. AJ's stifling defense means Hrudey doesn't usually face a lot of shots, which is how he's able to keep Hrudey at a 2.78 GAA and .699 save %.
The Sharks first round matchup will be @Scribe99 and his Los Angeles Kings (20-24, .455...with the sweet purple/yellow sweaters!). The Kings are HEAVILY dependent on Teemu Selanne, who finished with 119 points, and next up is Geoff Sanderson with 61. The Defense is led by slick-skating Glen Wesley and a mix of Jyrki Lumme and Luke Richardson. Terreri sits between the pipes.
Scribe is a great player, and in fact has beaten AJ in a Classic finals (CHI vs QUE) 4-1 in 2020. However, this Sharks team is dialed in on both ends of the ice and I just can't see them losing in a 7 game series. Maybe the Kings grab a close one, but that mounting pressure that AJ brings is too much to overcome. PREDICTION: SJS in 5
2. Corbettkb (DAL) - 225
7. Sebe82 (EDM) + 225
Season Series (2-2 tied)
The #2 seed Dallas Stars (31-13, .705) and their blinding white jerseys have put together their best CDL season in franchise history. 4.11 GF/G with 3.00 GA/G are both franchise records, leading to a 1.11 GDIF. The roster is terrifying with Mike Gartner, Luc Robitaille and Dallas Drake as the starting forward lineup with big Steve Smith and Doug Lidster on defense. More impressive is the use of Jon Casey in net. The Stars goalie put up a stellar 2.93 GAA (6th all-time) with a .717 save % (8th all-time). @corbettkb has used his manual goalie skills to quel any fears of a "weak" goalie in net. The Stars also set the all-time record for fewest checks against at 23.5! This a well-deserved #2 seed that is poised to make a deep run in the playoffs with a potent offense and tight defense.
BRING ON THE TRAPON! @Sebe_The_Legend and his Edmonton Oilers (23-21, .523) love to grind things down to an uncomfortable halt. They don't mind letting their opponents hang in the zone (they have the highest AZA), but reduce shots to low-scoring chances that Patrick Roy can gobble up. In fact, Roy led the league in save % with a ridiculous .761 (2nd all time). Helping out Roy on defense is Dave Ellett (10th in checks F this season) and Patrice Brisebois. The forwards are led by the Great One, #99 Wayne Gretzky. Gretz has been a defensive monster this season for the Oilers, 2nd in checks next to Ellett. He's also the primary playmaker with 53 assists to mainly Jimmy Carson and a mixture of Tony Amonte/Cam Neely (depends on how Sebe is feeling his players are performing).
These guys split their season series with a lot of close games (including a ridiculous 1-0 OT win by the Stars). I have been very impressed with both of these teams this season and when either team is ON they can beat anybody. Now clearly the Stars are the #2 seed and favorite, but the question is can they generate enough offense against this tight Edmonton team. Composure will be key for both these guys as grinding out a 7 game series can be mentally fatiguing. This is one matchup I can't wait to watch, and I think each game will be close!
PREDICTION: DAL in 6
3. Indio (HAM) - 110
6. Tickenest (HEL) +125
Season Series (4-0 HAM, 2 OT)
We have a couple of new faces in the 3-6 matchup this season! @INDIO and the Hamilton Tigers (31-13, .705) take the #3 seed in an impressive sophomore season in CDL A! Indio has been steadily improving his play over the last few years and it has culminated into the recent Classic A title and now a favorite in the first round of CDL 05. Offense is the name of the game as Indio likes to play fast and loose! Steve Yzerman leads this Tigers team with 135 points, with Kamensky and Kvartalnov on his sides. We'll see some Owen Nolan as well if those two aren't playing up to Indio's liking. The Tigers put up 4.55 goals/game, and that is the first team to go above 4.5 outside of AJ/Raph/Seth/Schmidt (aka "the big 4"). The defense also features Paul Coffey who is known for more offense, and Smehlik/Konstantov share duties as the #2. Mike Richter is letting up 3.94 GAA with a .668 save %. So at the end, Indio and the Tigers will look to outscore you by a goal. Speaking of which, he led the league with 18 one-goal wins (thanks to these @Tickenestcharts!).
I feel like @Tickenest and the Helsingin Jokerit (28-18, .591) are the most underrated team this season and is my darkhorse to make a run in the playoffs. Tick's game has improved tremendously as he's averaging 4.48 goals/game this season, up from 3.55 last season and keeping a 3.57 GA/G vs 4.23 last season! So monster improvement on both sides of the ice in just one season. In addition, the Jokerit like to whip the puck around the ice, usually leading the league in passing attempts and even more importantly passing completion percentage! Speaking of leading the league, Helsingin finished with a faceoff win percentage of 62.1%, the best ever in CDL A history! The Jokerit have NHL'94 superstar Jeremey Roenick at center, who led the league in goals and finished 3rd all-time in goals/game. Accompanying JR are Stephan LeBeau and Pelle Eklund, who finished with 106 and 99 points, respectively. There were some questions going into the season if Kevin Hatcher and Marty McSorley would be too big and slow on defense, but they are helping Sean Burke keep a 3.47 GAA. Burke's save percentage is a little concerning at .652, but the Jokerit have held opponents back by letting in only 10.3 shots per game. Hatcher and McSorley finished 8th and 10th in checks this season and JR was #1, which led the Jokers to be 3rd in checks/game.
Hamilton won all 4 matchups this season vs Helsingin, including two overtime victories, so it looks like Hamilton has the advantage in this series. All signs point to them being the odds on favorite, but I'll go out on a limb and predict a playoff upset here as I like the way Tickenest has been playing recently. PREDICTION: HEL in 7
4. kingraph (ANH) - 110
5. Uncle Seth (CAR) +100
The defending champion Anaheim Ducks (29-15, .659) end up as the #4 seed this season, their lowest seed in CDL so far. This team has the lowest goals for/game in franchise history at 4.43, but a stingy 2.89 goals against, for a GDIF of 1.55. That GDIF ends up being 2nd in the league after the #1 seeded Sharks. @kingraph built this team for defense, starting with Ed Belfour in net who finished with a .743 save % (3rd all-time) and 2.80 GAA (4th all-time). Helping out the Eagle are two talented heavy defensemen in Al Iafrate and Zarley Zalapski. They fit kingraph's aggressive style of defense and finished 1st and 3rd in checking for defensemen this season, and 2nd in total checks/game in league history. While the defense is strong, the offense took some time to figure out. Led by speedster Russ Courtnall, the Ducks finished 4th in goals this season. Evgeny Davydov and Joe Nieuwendyk try to keep up with Russ, but they are not traditional puck handlers. Each has a 4shp and varying skills, but stick handling ain't one of 'em! The Ducks will rely on individual creativity to generate offense, and that can be seen by their low assists this season.
A two time CDL champion, @Uncle Seth finds himself in the 5th seed this year, a strange place to land. The Minnesota Wild (28-16, .636) had the 5th best record, but nobody in their right mind would call them an underdog. The Wild finished with a Gdif of 1.3, 3rd in the league. On top of that, this entire season was an experiment for Coach Uncle Seth as all 10 of his skaters have participated in the games. It's hard to figure out what kind of lineup you'll see, and in true Seth fashion you can expect to see any and all of them at any given time. He's notoriously known for mixing things up until he finds something that works. If I had to guess, you're going to see a healthy dose of Gary Roberts and Robert Reichel, the Calgary stars, and the 3rd forward will likely be swapping around between Zhamnov, Claude...hell even Kozlov or Thomas! On Defense Doug Wilson and Darius Kasparitis are the mainstays, but you may see Rob Ramage called in if one of those two are a step off. In the pipes is Ron Hextall, who finished with a low 3.03 GAA (10th all time) and .700 save %.
When Seth is locked in, there may not be a scarier person to face in a game. A dominant champion in season 1 and 3, Seth was knocked out in the first round last year. His stats show a decline from where was in the first 3 seasons, but if you take him lightly you'll pay dearly. kingraph has had the better of Seth recently, going 12-1 in their last 13 CDL regular season and playoff meetings. However, you'd have to be crazy not to expect anything but a 7 game, life-draining match to the death when these two meet. A first round matchup of the "big 3" (AJ/Seth/Raph have been the only 3 to play in all 4 CDL finals) is a tough draw for both! Season Series (4-0 ANH) PREDICTION: ANH in 7
ODDS TO WIN THE CUP (based on projected playoff path)
AngryJay93 (SJS) +380
kingraph (ANH) +500
Uncle Seth (MIN) + 625
Corbettkb (DAL) + 1000
Indio (HAM) +1500
Tickenest (HEL) + 1800
Sebe (EDM) +4000
Scribe (LAK) +5000