NHL Playoffs Western Conference: Most Important Players
After diving into the most important player on each of the eight Eastern Conference teams left in the NHL Playoffs, we now turn our attention to the eight teams left in the Western Conference.
So far the action has been hot in Edmonton for the qualifying round, round robin play, and the early parts of the first round, and doesn't look to cool off anytime soon.
Las Vegas Golden Knights
Robin Lehner - G
Las Vegas unknowingly hit a jackpot when they acquired Robin Lehner. Not only did the Golden Knights acquire a goaltender with some playoff experience, but little did they know that they would be bringing in a player who had spent most of the season on the team that they would go up against in the first round of the playoffs. Lehner went 16-10-5 in 31 starts for Chicago this year, and the Swedish goalie has been even better for Las Vegas, winning all of his seven starts in the regular season and playoffs.
The Golden Knights entered the season with three-time Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury at goalie, but they knew they would have to upgrade the position if they wanted to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals, like in their inaugural season in the NHL in 2018. Lehner doesn't have the titles that Fleury does, but the Golden Knights feel like Lehner is the best option to keep the opposition of the board. So far that decision has paid off with interest for Las Vegas.
Nathan MacKinnon - C
The first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft is essentially the offense of the Colorado Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon finished the regular season with 35 goals and 93 points. By comparison, no other Colorado player totaled more than 50 points this season. MacKinnon's performance was so impressive, it earned him a spot as finalist in the race for the NHL MVP award. MacKinnon is the only one of the three finalists still left in the playoffs.
If the Avalanche didn't have MacKinnon on their roster, they certainly wouldn't be sitting in the position that they are currently in. MacKinnon opened the scoring in game 2 on Friday afternoon with his second goal of the playoffs. The Avalanche would go on to beat Arizona, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Last year MacKinnon totaled six goals and seven assists in 12 playoff games, and he looks primed to lead Colorado to an even deeper run in the playoffs this season.
St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko - RW
St. Louis Blues RW Vladimir TarasenkoJeff Curry - USA TODAY Sports
One of the key members of the St. Louis Blues team that won the Stanley Cup was winger Vladimir Tarasenko. The Russian scored 11 goals in 26 playoff games last season, helping the Blues to their first title since 1970. The 16th pick in the 2010 draft has been incredibly balanced throughout his NHL career, scoring 214 goals and dishing out 214 assists in 507 games.
Tarasenko's regular season was cut short early on, with a shoulder injury sidelining the winger after just 10 games. Tarasenko might have returned for the playoffs had the NHL not had to pause the season, but there was no guarantee where Tarasenko's health would be. With a couple extra months to recover, Tarasenko was ready to hit the ice at full speed.
So far Tarasenko has been a bit rusty, failing to record a point in three playoff games. During the regular season, only three St. Louis players scored at least 20 goals, which makes Tarasenko's return to the lineup even more important, especially since they have to take on the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. If Tarasenko can find his rhythm in the offense, the Blues could make another deep playoff run.
Bo Horvat - C
Vancouver Canucks C Bo HorvatDan Toulgoet - Vancouver Courier
Vancouver is an up-and-coming team, and they might have just found their leader in the playoffs. Canucks like Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes may get more attention, but there might not be a hotter hockey player out there right now than Bo Horvat. The center scored two goals and was credited with two assists in Vancouver's four qualifying round games against Minnesota. Horvat has been even better in the first two games against St. Louis, recording four goals, including the winner in overtime in game 2.
Horvat has always had a knack for finding the back of the net, scoring at least 20 goals in each of the last four seasons, but the Ontario native has really caught fire inside the bubble in Edmonton. Now with Vancouver just a couple wins away from the second round, it'll be interested to see if Horvat can keep his hot stretch of play going. If Horvat doesn't cool off, Vancouver will be a tougher out in the playoffs than some were expecting the Canucks to be.
Mark Giordano - D
Stat-wise, Giordano fell off a little bit during the regular season, but it doesn't mean the captain of the Flames became any less important to the team. After winning the Norris Trophy last year as the league's best defenseman, Giordano only recorded five goals and 31 points this year in 60 games, marking the first time since the 2012-13 season in which he failed to reach double digits in goal tallies.
Much like Eastern Conference blue line counterparts, Seth Jones and Dougie Hamilton, Giordano is the heart of the Flames. While youngsters Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Guadreau receive most of Calgary's headlines, Giordano is the calming force on defense that has propelled the Flames to a 2-1 series lead on Dallas in the first round.
Darcy Kuemper - G
Looking at the Arizona roster, it's probably a bit of a surprise that Kuemper is the Coyote identified as the most important player, especially with guys like Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Dig a little deeper and it's easy to see why. Kessel is in the latter half of his career, and not producing quite like he did in Pittsburgh. Hall was traded from New Jersey earlier this year, so he is still trying to adjust to his new teammates and style of play.
With Arizona sneaking into the playoffs, they'll likely have to play some of the best teams in the conference if they want to make a deep run. Kuemper came up huge against Nashville in the qualifying round, recording at least 40 saves in each of Arizona's three wins in the series. The first round matchup against Colorado has proven a little tougher, with the Avalanche winning both games, but Kuemper is still performing at a high level. If the Coyotes are going to comeback against a very talented Colorado team, it will be because Kuemper stood on his head between the pipes.
Jonathan Toews - C
Chicago Blackhawks C Jonathan ToewsJerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports
You name it on the ice, and Jonathan Toews has probably done it. The captain of the Blackhawks is a three-time Stanley Cup champion, was playoff MVP in 2010, and has made the All-Star Game on five separate occasions. Even though this is season 13 for Toews in the NHL, he has shown so far in the playoffs he is still one of the best in the league.
Coming into the qualifying round, it looked like Chicago's backs were against the wall, since the Blackhawks were matched up with Edmonton. With the NHL's Western Conference bubble being in Edmonton, the Oilers had a bit of a home-ice advantage. Add in the Oilers having young stars like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it was hard to see Chicago advancing.
Toews showed that even though he has a few years on the Edmonton stars, that he is still dangerous, scoring two goals and recording three assists in the four-game series victory for the Blackhawks. Patrick Kane may light up the scoresheet more than Toews, but there is no doubt the captain is what makes Chicago tick. As long as Toews is on the ice, the Blackhawks are never truly out of it.
Until now, there was a void in the industry. An all-in-one prop bet research tool for Over/Under rankings did not exist. Fantasy SP has changed that.
Of course, you could find betting trends on the internet but there wasn’t a place where you could have all the information for every single player on the same page at your fingertips. Well, we wanted to change that. We’ve created the definitive NFL prop bet research tool for pros and newbies alike.
In a typical NFL week, there can be over 1,000 player prop lines available. Traditional player game logs are not optimal for researching player props. Our unique tool allows you to quickly analyze thousands of lines on your phone, tablet, or computer, and find the props with the greatest value. Don’t just bet on the players you like. Become more data-driven with your props research by using Fantasy SP’s Player Prop Over/Under Rankings!
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Research Prop Bet Betting Example
Okay, enough talk, and let’s get to a simple real-world example of how to use the tool to help you place a bet.
For example, Jared Goff has had some of the most ridiculous home/away splits in 2022.
Goff has a passer rating of 106.9 with 2,217 yards (277.1 yards per game), 20 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions in eight games at home this season. Pretty good, right? On the road, he has a passer rating of 82.5 with 1,387 yards (231.2 yards per game), 3 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions in six games.
As you can see, Goff is averaging 46 more yards per game at home in 2022 entering Week 16. Vegas may try to trick you when Goff is on the road after coming off a massive home game but by using our tool, you won’t be fooled.
Goff has a 5-3 O-U record on his passing yard props at Ford Field this season. While his average line at home on DraftKings is 247 yards, his average result is 277.1 passing yards. Prior to throwing for 250+ yards against the Jets at the Meadowlands in Week 15, he was 2-3 on his passing yards props on the road. His average line on DraftKings on the road was only 10 yards fewer heading into Week 15 yet he averaged a full 50 fewer yards per game (227). This shows a clear pattern that he is much more successful at hitting the over and much more efficient when playing in front of his home crowd. There are countless examples of patterns you can spot using this brand-new prop tool that are even more eye-popping than Goff’s numbers.
How to Find Favorable Prop Bets
The key to placing informed bets is to place bets on clear patterns. Ideally, you want to see a player consistently going over or under. Grab a concise list of potential bets to place and compare to the lines at your favorite operator.
Let’s say you want to place a passing yards prop bet on Tom Brady. You check all the lines at your favorite operator (we suggest
Caesars or FanDuel) and need to put his line into context. How often does he go over? What outcomes occur against an easy matchup? What is his average result? How does he do at home versus on the road?
Using our exclusive Over-Under Rankings, you can utilize our premium filters to find out Brady’s historical prop record at home versus the road is even more volatile than Goff’s splits. (This is good and what we want to see.)
At home, Brady is averaging a whopping 307.3 passing yards and has hit the over in six of seven games heading into Week 15.
On the road, while his average line is only two yards fewer (271.2 to 269.2), he has a 1-5 O-U record and is only averaging 239 passing yards per game.
Fantasy SP has just highlighted a very promising prop bet whenever Brady is at home. Take the over. And when he is on the road, it’s a prime spot to smash the under.
Some players also tend to do much better when their team is the favorite such as running backs late in the fourth quarter when their team needs to kill time. Heading into Week 15, Dalvin Cook had a 7-2 O-U rushing yard record when his team was the favorite (79.9 yards per game). Conversely, when the Vikings were underdogs, he was 1-3 (57.8 yards per game). This is why filtering by favorite or underdog can be a critical data point to help you gain an edge at sportsbooks.
You can also filter by the last few games in case a player has begun to heat up or cool off. These filters will help you nail your bets in very specific scenarios. It’s the perfect tool for situational prop betting.
What the Experts Are Saying
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The dropdowns and filters on this tool are what really make this a game-changing feature. If you only want to see the most popular players on the page, simply slide the popularity to 75% or 100%. If you want to see players’ over-under records and their average results for only home games, simply click Home on the dropdown. If you want to see over-under records for players against teams in the bottom 5 at defending that position, simply click Bottom 5 under Position Rank. Not only can you get all of this insight, but the sliders and dropdowns all work interactively with a user-friendly interface so you can find out how a player is doing in a very specific situation. For example, let’s say Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are hosting the top-five San Francisco 49ers defense and are four-point underdogs. To get a much clearer picture of how Prescott has performed in similar situations, you can check off Home, Underdog, Indoor, and Top 5 under Opponent Rank to get his exact over-under prop historical record in this particular situation. If he is 0-3 on his passing yard prop in this scenario, you may want to smash the under.
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Stay tuned for our future article on even more in-depth tips and tricks.
France vs Argentina World Cup Final Betting Preview: Can Lionel Messi Capture That Elusive World Cup Title?
Picking up where they left off in 2018, the French National Team led by 23-year-old Kylian Mbappe have found their way back into the finals as they look to be the first back-to-back World Cup Champions since Brazil’s dominant runs in 1958 and 1962. Standing between that incredible feat for the defending champions is Argentina, who currently have their superstar, Lionel Messi, in top form. Messi is finding ways to create passes no one can see and he’s done it multiple times, assisting three goals (tied for the most) throughout the tournament. The legend is also scoring goals of his own and is tied with Kylian Mbappe (5 goals) for Golden Boot honors in this year’s World Cup. Regardless, soccer fans around the world are in for a treat on Sunday at 10:00 AM EST as two of the best players in the world face each other for their country’s World Cup glory.
After winning Group D, France defeated Poland in the Round of 16, England in the quarterfinals, and a strong Morocco team in the semis to advance to the Final. On the other side of the bracket, Argentina won Group C and dispatched Australia in the Round of 16. Messi and the Argentinians were then tested in the quarterfinals, needing a penalty shootout to defeat the Netherlands after blowing a late two-goal lead. Finally, Argentina played perhaps their best match of the tournament against Croatia in the semi-finals, winning 3-0. Now the stage is set for a blockbuster finale between two powerhouses featuring some of the top players in the world.
Note (from FanDuel Sportsbook): No team will play at home during Qatar's World Cup. For betting purposes, FanDuel explains that: “Home Team refers to the team listed first, Away Team refers to the second team listed.”
Argentina (-104) vs. France (-112)
Argentina Keys To Victory
Lionel Messi has played incredibly for Argentina throughout this World Cup. He is leaving opposing defenders in the dust, taking on multiple players at once, dragging them away from his teammates, which is opening up the field for his fellow goal scorers. Every time Messi has the ball at his feet, there seems to be more than one threat. Messi is playing just as well as he always has in 2022. He’s served his team as a playmaker and as a goal-scorer in Qatar. He’s also had some help from Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez who’s scored a handful of goals in this World Cup (including two in Argentina’s decisive victory over Croatia). If Alvarez and Messi are able to link up while on the attack, the depleted French defense and midfield could be in for some trouble.
France Keys To Victory
One of the biggest headlines heading into this World Cup Final is the return of French striker Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid star and winner of this year’s Ballon D’Or hurt his hamstring in one of France’s first practices soon after arriving in Qatar. He flew back to Madrid where he immediately completed his recovery work which was set at three weeks from the time of injury. Right now, Benzema is flying back to Doha and could be starting for France in the final. At the moment, France’s HC Didier Deschamps has declined to comment on whether or not he will be including KB9 in the starting lineup. France’s ball movement has been excellent throughout the tournament, but their key to victory against Argentina will be efficient defense. Over the last few games, France’s defense seems to have slowed down. Not only will they need to stop Messi, but they will need to turn defensive stops into counterattacks. Mbappe and Olivier Giroud (four goals thus far in the tournament) will need to be electric on offense and test the Argentinian keeper. Antoine Griezmann may be an x-factor for France as he has three assists in this World Cup and was inches away from scoring against Morocco.
It’s only fitting that Lionel Messi will finally hoist the World Cup trophy in his last World Cup match. Expect him to score a goal and lead his team to victory in a tightly contested battle.
The Pick: Argentina (-104)
World Cup Final Best Prop Bets
Kylian Mbappe: To Score Or Give Assist (+100)
Mbappé has been relatively quiet over France’s last few games. Still, he is the main wing on France’s team who is capable of breaking down defenses through his skillful technique and ridiculous speed. He currently is tied with Messi for the most goals in the 2022 World Cup. If he isn’t able to score in this game, then expect him to at least make an assist. For France to win this one, the 23-year-old will need to have a big game.
Lionel Messi: Anytime Goalscorer (+190)
Messi has stepped up his performance big time this World Cup. If you have watched Argentina play in this tournament, you know how crucial of a role Messi has played in the team’s success. He is tied for the most goals in the tournament with Mbappe and has a great chance of putting the ball in the net at some point during Sunday’s big match. This is a particularly great prop to target since Messi takes all of Argentina’s penalty shots and has converted four-of-five throughout the tournament.
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Calling every sports fan across the globe! The best month for all things sports is here: December. NFL and CFB are getting into the thick of things — I mean, we are finally not seeing Alabama and Clemson in the CFP, not to mention both the NBA and NHL are underway and college basketball just tipped off!
Despite all of these different sporting events going on, the World’s biggest Sporting event is down to the Semifinals, the World Cup.
Although Soccer is the World's most popular sport, it still struggles to gain support in the US. However, every 4 years Soccer takes the country by storm and this year, and these last few games are going to be amazing.
Let us introduce you to your new go-to app, FanDuel Sportsbook. It’s the place to be for not only the usual sports, but for this year's World Cup!
FanDuel Sportsbook is providing a multitude of features with a few market differentiators.
- World Cup Winner
- Who will win the Golden Boot (the award for the top goal scorer of the World Cup)
- Highest scoring Group
- And more
- Popular Markets - outside of the normal Moneyline, Spread & Over/Under lines, FanDuel will also be offering:
- Anytime Goal Scorer
- First Goal Scorer
- Shots on Goal
- Correct Score
- Number of Corner Kicks
- Half-Time Result
- Tournament Goal Scorer Parlay Builder - build your own tournament-long Goal Scorer parlays with your favorite players from every team.
- Daily Specials:
- Highest scoring team of the day
- Total daily goals
- Player specials
- And More!
- Live Parlays
Out of all the betting apps we’ve used, signing up for FanDuel Sportsbook is also the easiest. Simply download the app and create an account by providing an email, credit card, and SS# — that’s to protect your winnings and ensure you're not a sporting professional.
FanDuel is undoubtedly the best site/app to parlay across multiple sports. It’s designed for bettors at any stage. The clear interface is ideal for beginners and you can make a bet in just a few clicks! It’s complete with a number of betting guides that explain the rules and resources to safely bet.
One of the best parts is that once the game ends, you can cash out your winnings right away. No minimum, no wait.
There’s also the incredible New User Offer: sign up with FanDuel Sportsbook and get up to $1000 in Free Bets if you lose your first bet!
Their app has everything you need — from tutorials to real-time game scores. Get amped for the World Cup with FanDuel Sportsbook. Enhance your Sportsember by downloading the FanDuel Sportsbook app today!