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Finnish Liiga quarterfinals, Saturday 23.3.2024

Betting thoughts about the Finnish Liiga quarterfinals, Saturday 23.3.2024

Tappara 1-1 (Power Rating: 61 from 63, Championship odds: 4x from 3.60x)

Tappara was my initial favorite before the season. They won the regular season, albeit with "poor play." Grönborg modified Tappara's playing style a lot, and I agree with the "meidän peli" -experts; Tappara is now more prone to mistakes, both offensively and defensively, compared to the traditional Tappara style. This is not good for success in the playoff environment.

That being said, Grönborg is an experienced coach who has won big games. Tappara has strong player material. But for me, they do not look like solid SM favorites anymore.

Tappara was just a mid-pack team in the league's net goal expectation statistics. Was the team lucky, or were their goal attempts of exceptional quality? And is Tappara goaltender Christian Heljanko as good as his figures suggest? He has played well in during the regular season and against TPS, too. But if he hits a bad or unlucky night, Tappara might face a problem, because Tappara lacks a strong backup. This could be a disadvantage in the playoffs.

In the first match-up with TPS, Heljanko saved Tappara from being the trailing team after the weak first period—and even during the second period. In the third, Tappara improved a bit in their play, but the final score of 4-1 flattered them.

I thought Tappara might have been just "sleepy" in the first playoff game after the off-week, but in the second matchup in Turku, TPS continued to be a better team. TPS won deservedly.

Now the third tie on Saturday in Tampere is very hard to assess. There should be more to come from Tappara, but TPS has shown that they are much more of a medal-placing contender in Liiga than I thought two weeks ago.

TPS 1-1 (Power Rating: 53 from 52, Championship odds: 26x from 41x)

I initially considered TPS a modest, poorly managed organization, but I was wrong. TPS has had good coaching, and their acquisitions during the season have been more successful than expected, especially the two young IFK players, Teissala and Salin. The team has the physicality needed for the playoffs. TPS has excellent puck control and allows very few shots. Therefore, TPS can keep their home games against Tappara surprisingly even and low-scoring, although advancing to the next round seems unlikely.

Already in the first away tie against Tappara, TPS had more of the puck and good scoring opportunities! The scoreline of 4-1 to Tappara with two empty-net goals was misleading. In game two, TPS won deservedly and dominated the statistics.

It is still hard to believe that TPS would be a champion, and there is a risk that their goaltending would collapse later during the series. However, at least the physical and puck-controlling TPS will keep the games tight and low-scoring.

Ilves 0-1 (Power Rating: 62, Championship odds: 5.15x from 3.90x)

Ilves was very close to Tappara in my power ratings, before the season and still before the play-offs. They played well against Kalpa in the first match but slipped their "safe" 3-1 lead with silly mistakes. Ilves has good coaching and a lot of upcoming young talent. If they survive in the very tight second match-up away at Kuopio, they'll return as at least a joint favorite to the exciting championship race. However, the hard-working and solid KalPa is a team with a big T, and the result of the Saturday thriller is almost a coin flip. Losing that, Ilves will face a real risk of being eliminated, even if they might be the strongest team at the moment! That example underlines the cruelness of playoff hockey.

KalPa 1-0 (Power Rating: 53, Championship odds: 13x from 19x)

KalPa appears to be a stylistically consistent and disciplined playoff team. Before the playoffs, I rated them quite far behind the top four, but I might have been wrong. An alternative view is that Ilves made mistakes and was unlucky to lose the first tie against KalPa, and with the revenge at Kuopio on Saturday, it will be business as usual, and in the end, the class difference will be decisive.

Pelicans 1-1 (Power Rating: 58 from 57, Championship odds: 5x from 6.50x)

Pelicans exceeded expectations last year and have exceeded expectations again this year by finishing third in the regular season.

When the playoffs started, I still considered the Pelicans inferior to IFK, although the market disagreed. My philosophy is to bet on the class and lay "hot teams," bet on improvement potential, and lay those who have performed well at their limits. Therefore, I had to go against the Pelicans again.

I am not second-guessing my opinion, even if Pelicans was the luckier team in the first two "anybody's games". HIFK was a bit unlucky in their finishing, and ordinarily reliable goalie Roope Taponen gave away two goals in the second leg.

Pelicans is a hardworking team and is now a big favorite to progress to the semifinals. There, they would be underdogs against Ilves or Kärpät but slight favorites against KalPa or TPS.

Pelicans' goaltender, Kokko, has played very well, but the sample size is small, and only two games in the playoffs. If something happens with him under the playoffs pressures, the Pelicans cannot expect help from their backup goaltenders.

HIFK 1-1 (Power Rating: 58 from 60, Championship odds: 16x from 6.50x)

HIFK had a difficult time early in the season due to injuries among their defensemen. Now, the team has good defenders on the ice, excluding Ilari Melart. The acquisition of Luke Martin was better than expected, possibly making him the best defender in the league. Lehterä's risk of regression did not materialize. Overall, many players have had a good season despite poor luck in scoring. Jonas Rask is a versatile and exceptional player. HIFK's power play and penalty kill look strong, and the statistics support this observation.

IFK were beaten in the first match-up vs. Pelicans in a strange anybody game. The significant home advantage with the crowd and the advantage of matching Tyrväinen-line vs. Lehterä-line affected the outcome. On the second tie on Friday, that was not a factor. HIFK played well and energetically, and my favorite player, Jonas Rask, showed his fighting spirit with the HIFK goal. Unfortunately, the better scoring chances did not go in, and two bad mistakes by goaltender Taponen cost HIFK the game.

After these catastrophes, HIFK has less than a 20% chance of surviving to the next rounds. Their current championship odds of 16x is a very bad price from the 0-2 match deficit, but their quality as a team remains, and they might be a good bet on the "do-or-die game" in Helsinki on Tuesday. On Saturday, the home advantage for Pelicans might be an extra big factor, and the Tuesday bet would be less risky and more juicy - especially if IFK loses on Saturday.

As you can see, even with that situation, the individual match markets, the championship market, and "to progress next round are entirely different worlds.

Kärpät 2-0 (Power Rating: 60 from 59, Championship odds: 5 from 6.75)

Something probably improved psychologically inside the Karpät dressing room, when a good and experienced coach Lauri Marjamäki was sacked after a bad period mid-season. Kärpät's new coach, Ville Mäntymaa,was a question mark, but when he got the "genius", championship coach Mikko Mantere by his side, Kärpät has returned to the championship race as a strong contender. Although the team's lineup has changed during the season, the player material is still high quality. Kärpät has two good goaltenders. Westerlund is excellent, and Karhunen is decent.

Karhunen started against Jukurit and played well as the skaters, too. Karpät actually scored all five goals in the match—the only Jukurit goal was an own goal from a "too well won" face-off! Kärpät (and their home support) might be returning to a level the classy team deserves.

The second tie was very tight, and Jukurit could have scored the opening goal. Then, everything would have been different. Even in a 1-1 situation, Jukurit had more Xg.

So Kärpät is not through yet, and they need to work hard and keep lucky enough against Jukurit. But on the probable next rounds, Kärpät is as strong as anybody - especially home at Raksila, where the fans are getting back behind their team.

Jukurit 0-2 (Power Rating: 56 from 57, Championship odds: 18x from 11x)

Jukurit has played well, according to our goal expectations. Their numbers are impressive overall. Thanks to Olli Jokinen's coaching, Jukurit is a better team than its players' salaries and market values suggest. He has developed the players well. Jokinen's coaching skills are evident, but there is no evidence of his tactical abilities or his ability to handle pressure in the playoffs. Jukurit's goaltenders are only adequate. These question marks could become problems in the playoffs. Nevertheless, Jukurit is a surprise contender.

These doubts I wrote before the playoffs started have not been a problem for Jukurit. They have played well, but Kärpät has just been slightly better and luckier. Jukurit might be worth a bet at 1.8x or more (ML OT inc.) on their do-or-die game on Tuesday in Mikkeli.

ESBC:n kanssa enemmän iloa vedonlyönnistä

ESBC:n voittamisen resepti perustuu Suomen tunnetuimman vedonlyöntisijoittajan Jorma Vuoksenmaan tutkimustuloksiin ja yli 30 voitollisen vuoden kokemukseen vedonlyönnistä. Jorma Vuoksenmaa ja ESBC:n työntekijät pelaavat samaan analyysiin perustuen samoja kohteita kuin asiakkaamme.

ESBC:n sivustolta peliharrastajat ja -sijoittajat saavat ajankohtaiset sijoitusneuvot vedonlyöntiin. ESBC ylläpitää kykyään parantaa asiakkaittensa menestystä yliopistotasoisella tutkimuksella pelisijoittamisesta ja urheilusta.


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