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  1. #26  
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    NHL playoffs
    Game 2



    Pittsburgh didn’t get a shot on goal for 37:09 stretch in Game 1, still won 5-3. Nashville won five of last eight games overall- they’re 2-3 in last five road games. Under is 6-3-2 in their last 11 games. Penguins won last four home games by combined score of 16-5. Under is 4-3-2 in their last nine games. Pittsburgh is 9-2 in its last 11 games with the Predators; last four series games went over total. Nashville lost five of last six visits here. Penguins won Cup LY and in 2009; they’re 4-1 overall in Stanley Cup final series. Nashville is in its first Stanley Cup final.


    Stanley Cup final


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    Pitt 5-3, -$160, O5.5
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  2. #27  
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    Date W-L-T % Units Record


    Date W-L-T % Units Record


    05/29/2017...................... 0-2-0.................... 0.00%............. -10.50




    Best Bets:


    Date......... W-L-T......Sides.................... %..............Totals..........Units


    05/29/2017........... 0-1-0................. 0.00%.............0 - 1.......... -10.50
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  3. #28  
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    Wednesday’s six-pack


    Pac-12 basketball records, over the last four seasons:


    Arizona: 59-13 Pac-12, 8-4 NCAA


    Oregon: 53-19, 9-4


    Utah: 46-26: 3-2


    UCLA: 44-28, 6-3


    California: 39-33, 0-1


    Colorado: 35-37, 0-2


    Stanford: 33-39, 2-1


    Arizona State: 31-41, 0-1


    Oregon State: 26-46, 0-1


    Washington: 25-47, 0-0


    USC: 24-48, 2-2


    Washington State: 17-55, 0-0


    *****************************

    Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings…….



    13) Best part of the Strickland/Harper shenanigans Monday night was Buster Posey totally declining to get involved. Usually, the catcher tries to keep the angry batter away from the pitcher, but Posey made no such attempt.


    Harper hit two very long home runs off Strickland in the ’14 playoffs (thats 2.5 years ago!!!) in their only two previous meetings. Guess something Harper did/said ticked Strickland off.


    12) I like watching baseball when they have the strike zone on the right side of the screen, so we can see if the umps miss any pitches. To me, it makes the broadcast a little better.


    11) Is Nick Markakis the best active player who has never been an All-Star? He has 1,945 hits, is a solid defender, has a .358 career OB%. You’d think he would’ve made one All-Star team.


    10) Jeb Bush is out as part of the group trying to buy the Miami Marlins; apparently he had “only $20M” of his own money involved in the project, not enough to make him a controlling partner, which is what he wanted.


    9) 10 of the 64 teams in the NCAA college baseball tournament are located in Texas.


    8) Nike stock fell 19% last year, is up only 4% this year; with the NBA Finals starting this week, Nike didn’t need Cavs-Warriors being overshadowed by Eldrick Woods’ DUI arrest. Nike does not sell golf equipment anymore, but they still sell golf clothes, which Woods endorses.


    7) Houston Astros are almost definitely going to be in the playoffs; I’m curious how they’ll deal with Josh Reddick playing against lefties (Price? Sale? Lester?) in playoffs/World Series.


    Reddick is a career .270 hitter vs righties, .220 vs lefties (.282 OB%). A’s once pinch-hit for him in the 4th inning of a big game because the opponent put a lefty in. So far this year he is 7-25 (.280) vs lefties; maybe the change of scenery has helped him. We’ll see.


    6) Kansas Jayhawks will have six transfers amongst their 13 scholarship players next winter; only three of them will be eligible next season. Makes team chemistry a little dicey.


    5) David Blatt went 83-40 as coach of the Cavaliers in the regular season, went 14-6 in playoff games and got fired. Now he coaches overseas; I think he had just enough ego to have been a really good college coach, but we’ll probably never know.


    Fact of the matter is, if Lebron James wakes up one day in August and wants Tyronn Lue fired, the man is as good as gone. Probably won’t happen, but it could.


    4) Not a big fan of playing the infield in; just doesn’t seem necessary, unless the runner on third is really fast. Playing fielders in opens up too many cheap hits that wouldn’t happen with a more traditional defense.


    3) Joe Niekro pitched in the major leagues for 22 seasons, had 973 career at-bats with a .156 BA and hit one home run— off his brother, Hall of Fame Phil Niekro.


    2) A Saudi prince lost $359M in six hours playing poker at a casino in Egypt; he also sold off five of his nine wives as a way to reduce his debt.


    I knew cats had nine lives; had no idea Saudi princes had nine wives.


    1) I don’t care what anyone says, Bob Uecker should’ve won an Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as Indians’ announcer Harry Doyle in Major League.
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  4. #29  
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    NHL playoffs
    Game 2

    Pittsburgh didn’t get a shot on goal for 37:09 stretch in Game 1, still won 5-3. Nashville won five of last eight games overall- they’re 2-3 in last five road games. Under is 6-3-2 in their last 11 games. Penguins won last four home games by combined score of 16-5. Under is 4-3-2 in their last nine games. Pittsburgh is 9-2 in its last 11 games with the Predators; last four series games went over total. Nashville lost five of last six visits here. Penguins won Cup LY and in 2009; they’re 4-1 overall in Stanley Cup final series. Nashville is in its first Stanley Cup final.


    Stanley Cup final


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    Pitt 5-3, -$160, O5.5
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  5. #30  
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    Preview: Predators (41-29) at Penguins (50-21)
    Date: May 31, 2017 8:00 PM EDT


    PITTSBURGH -- It's normal for a playoff series to gain context over the first game or two or three.


    You can probably throw that out the window with the Stanley Cup Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators, who meet Wednesday in Game 2 at PPG Paints Arena. After what happened in the series opener, it's anyone's guess in what direction things might be heading.


    Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan called his team's 5-3 win Monday in Game 1 "bizarre."


    Nashville coach Peter Laviolette found himself juxtaposing praise for the way his team played with this: "We hate the result. Right now we are 100 percent in a result-orientated business. I would rather be in their shoes. I would rather have that Game 1 win because you need four out of seven. Now it's down to six to try to grab the four."


    The Penguins won, but weren't wholly happy because they blew a three-goal lead and went 37 minutes without a shot on goal. The Predators lost but seemed genuinely satisfied with the effort if not the outcome.


    A lot of times, the team coming off of a loss will practice while a winning club will stay off the ice. The opposite happened Tuesday, with Pittsburgh holding a fairly well-attended optional skate.


    Sullivan even was asked Tuesday if he believed in divine intervention or his team being some sort of team of destiny for winning games like that and overcoming a series of injuries this postseason.


    "No, I don't think so," he said. "I think our team has an ability to win games different ways. One of the strengths of this team is the quick-strike ability. We can be opportunistic, and when we get high-quality chances we have some people that can finish."


    That's a general description of the Penguins through Sullivan's eyes. Analyzing Game 1 specifically is more difficult.


    "It's hard to kind of put a finger on why it turned out the way it did," said Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray, who made 23 saves. "I think we were just glad to get the win at the end of the night. ... I think it just came down to big plays at big times. Not a dominant performance, of course, by any means, but we got it done."


    So both teams found reason to be optimistic, the Penguins because they are coming off a win, and the Predators because even in a loss they didn't stray far from their blueprint and believe they can bounce back to split the two games in Pittsburgh before the series shifts to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.


    "I think our team has been tested many times this season, whether we've had guys out of the lineup or we've gone through rough patches," Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said. "We've always responded the right way."


    In Game 1, it came down to Pittsburgh being able to beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne four times on 11 shots (the Penguins also had an empty-net goal).


    Rinne is an elite goalie, a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist and the team's longest-tenured player. He carried a postseason-best 1.70 goals-against average into the series.


    But the Penguins have given him problems in the limited sample of nine games he has faced them. During the regular season in his career, he is 1-5-2 against them in eight starts, and his .880 save percentage and 3.57 goals-against average are his worst against any club.


    "I expect him to bounce back," Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "He's a terrific goalie. He's been our MVP all year."


    Then again, the way Game 1 went, there's no telling what might happen in Game 2.




    NHL HEAD TO HEAD


    May 29, 2017 Score ATS Results
    NAS 3 Over: 8
    PIT « 5 Cover: 232
    Tools: Recaps


    Jan 31, 2017 Score ATS Results
    NAS 2 Over: 6
    PIT « 4 Cover: 222
    Tools: Recaps


    Oct 22, 2016 Score ATS Results
    PIT 1 Cover: 286
    NAS « 5 Over: 6
    Tools: Recaps


    Mar 31, 2016 Score ATS Results
    NAS 2 Over: 7
    PIT « 5 Cover: 248
    Tools: Recaps


    Oct 24, 2015 Score ATS Results
    PIT « 2 Under: 3
    NAS 1 Cover: 239
    Tools: Recaps
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    Malkin focused on titles, not stardom
    May 30, 2017



    PITTSBURGH (AP) Just about anywhere else in the NHL, Evgeni Malkin would be ''The Guy.''


    The captain. The unquestioned leader. The brightest star. The fulcrum around which to build a franchise.


    Yet he has found comfort, peace and freedom in Pittsburgh, where the player everyone calls ''Geno'' has spent the last 11 years not as ''The Guy'' but ''The Other Guy.'' That's not a slight. How can it be when the player a few stalls over in the dressing room happens to be a good friend and the best player in the world?


    Sure, if he played in another market, Malkin would be the centerpiece. Why do that when you get to chase Stanley Cups every spring with Sidney Crosby?


    ''I don't want to be No. 1 in Carolina,'' Malkin said on the eve of Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup Final date with Nashville. ''I want to be better (with) Sid.''


    And occasionally more dangerous than Sid.


    It's Malkin, not Crosby, who leads the league in scoring during the playoffs. The big Russian's power-play goal in Pittsburgh's 5-3 Game 1 victory over the Predators gave him 25 points in 20 games, just ahead of Crosby's 22 in 19. If the Penguins find a way to fend off Nashville and raise the Cup for a second straight year and the third time in the Crosby and Malkin era, it could be Malkin who walks away with a second Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP.


    Not that Malkin is keeping track. Point out he won his Hart Trophy as NHL MVP in 2012 during a season in which Crosby was limited to just 22 games due to a concussion, Malkin shrugs. When he was left off the NHL's list of 100 greatest players released at the All-Star Break, he cracked a couple of jokes and moved on. Asked to revisit the omission over the weekend, Malkin responded with typical bluntness.


    ''No, I don't care, my record is Cups,'' Malkin said. ''If I win like one more Cup, it's like my record. I not think about points. It's only team.''


    If Crosby is the Penguins' captain and conscience, Malkin is their id. While the unfailingly understated Crosby searches for the right thing to say, Malkin usually only pipes up when there's something he needs to get off his chest.


    After Pittsburgh failed to close out Ottawa in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, Malkin groused about the need for him to be better even though he was the best player in black and gold on a night his sublime second-period goal gave Pittsburgh a lead it couldn't quite hold. That's just Geno being Geno.


    ''He plays a pretty emotional game,'' Crosby said. ''His game is skilled, but physically he's not afraid to engage.''


    That fearlessness, however, can make it appear at times that the 30-year-old is indestructible. He's not. He gritted his way through the 2016 playoffs despite searing pain in his right elbow, not that it stopped him from putting up six goals and 12 assists as the Penguins won their fourth Cup.


    The victory last spring served as validation for both Crosby and Malkin following a string of spring flameouts that left some wondering if the Penguins would be better off with just one franchise center instead of two. It's a sentiment that always struck Malkin as odd.


    Malkin fled Russia and the Kontinental Hockey League a few weeks after his 20th birthday in 2006 to begin a new life 5,500 miles away from home. He forged a bond with another generational talent, one whose own greatness has forced Malkin not to take his own for granted. He could have chosen to explore free agency three years ago but instead signed an eight-year extension with Pittsburgh long before he hit the open market.


    ''I sign big deal here because I feel we can win every year,'' Malkin said. ''I want to play with Sid long time. I want to be like - it's good competition between me and Sid.''


    While KHL officials have spoken publically about making a run at Russian stars this summer - dangling the chance to play in the Olympics after the NHL decided it would not send its players to South Korea next February as part of the bait - Malkin wants no part of it.


    He'll always be a Russian. His life, however, is now in Pittsburgh. His son, Nikita, turns 1 on Wednesday. While fatherhood has mellowed Malkin off the ice - he joked he's gone out ''zero times'' since Nikita's birth - he remains fully engaged on it.


    ''I come to rink every day smiling,'' Malkin said. ''I want to try new sticks, new skates. I'm still (excited) to play. If we win one more Cup, it's amazing. If I win one more MVP, it's amazing. I try and be better.''


    When he's at his best, there are few who can keep up. When the Penguins were at risk of botching a 5-on-3 power play late in the first period of Game 1, it was Malkin who took command. While his teammates searched for the perfect shot, Malkin opted to just blast one at Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. The puck squeezed through to give the Penguins an early lead and set the tone for a three-goal outburst by the time first-period horn sounded.


    A few hours later Malkin was back home, focusing on being what he calls being ''a good dad, not just a good hockey dad.''


    Nikita is still too young to realize what his father does for a living. Still, Malkin is well aware of the legacy he's creating one shift at a time, one that isn't focused on selling more No. 71 jerseys but more mid-June Cup parades through his adopted hometown.


    ''I know when (Nikita) growing up, he's like 2 years old, 3 years old, he start understanding,'' Malkin said. ''I hope he's little bit proud to me.''
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    Pens wary, Preds confident entering Game 2
    May 30, 2017



    PITTSBURGH (AP) The winning team went nearly two full periods without a shot. The hottest goaltender in the playoffs was only tested 11 times in 58 minutes - and lost.


    No wonder Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan described his team's 5-3 victory over Nashville in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as ''bizarre.''


    And that doesn't even include the catfish tossed onto the ice by a Predators fan at PPG Paints Arena in the middle of a second period. The fish that splatted on the Nashville blue line earned the thrower three misdemeanor charges and also came as close to Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne as anything the Penguins managed during 20 minutes in which the highest-scoring team in the league couldn't even muster a single shot.


    ''It's not always pretty,'' Sullivan said Tuesday. ''We don't get points for style. But what I love about our team is that we find ways to win, we compete.''


    True, though for the majority of Game 1, the competition was pretty one-sided. The Predators controlled the pace and the puck, just not the scoreboard. It left the guys from ''Smashville'' in a new position for the first time since they began their mad dash to the final a month ago: chaser instead of chasee as Game 2 looms on Wednesday night.


    ''Now we face a little adversity,'' said defenseman Ryan Ellis, who scored the first Stanley Cup Final goal in team history. ''We see what kind of group and character we have to bounce back.''


    The Predators haven't dropped consecutive games in the postseason and their four previous losses were pretty easy to explain. What happened on Monday night was not. The only area where Nashville wasn't markedly better than the defending Stanley Cup champions is the only one that really matters.


    ''Everything was there that we liked but the result,'' Ellis said.


    Ellis described the Predators as more disappointed than mad. You can probably add baffled to the list. Nashville became the first team since the NHL began tracking the stat in 1957 to hold a team without a shot for an entire period during the Stanley Cup Final. The gulf actually stretched 37 minutes in all, which sounds like a perfect way for the opponent to win.


    Except the streak was bookended by goals. The first, a ricochet off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm, gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead with 17 seconds left in the first period. The second, a sniper shot by Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel exactly 37 minutes later, put Pittsburgh back in front to stay at 4-3.


    The angst Nashville felt isn't new to those who face the Penguins. Pittsburgh was outshot throughout the first two rounds of the playoffs. It didn't stop the Penguins from knocking off Columbus in five games and Washington in seven. There's a bit of a changeling quality to this group as opposed to the one that beat San Jose in six games to win the Cup last spring.


    Sullivan calls it the ability to ''win games different ways,'' but what happened in Game 1 seems borderline impossible. The Penguins understand they were equal parts lucky and good. They also understand they can't afford to have their offense go dormant for nearly two periods.


    Only a handful of Penguins participated in a skate on Tuesday, though the video room was crowded while they searched for ways to make sure a funk like that doesn't happen again.


    ''We know that's not necessarily the way you want to play the game every night,'' Crosby said.


    The Predators are more focused on the process than the end product. Save for a bumpy stretch near the end of the first period where the Penguins scored three times, Nashville did exactly what it wanted to do. Defenseman P.K. Subban pointed to the response after falling behind by three as proof the stage is not too big.


    ''It's easy in a Stanley Cup game to come back in the room, everybody is quiet, nerves,'' Subban said. ''But that's not our hockey club. We know how good we can be. The way we responded was typical Nashville Predators.''


    Typical for everyone except Rinne. The 34-year-old goalie is the main reason Nashville's season will extend into June for the first time. Yet his iffy play in Game 1 continued a troubling trend. He came into the series 1-5-2 with a .880 save percentage and 3.57 goals-against average in his career against the Penguins, numbers that ticked in the wrong direction even though he spent a majority of three periods standing in his crease with nothing to do while his teammates were at work at the other end of the ice.


    Rinne's teammates rallied to his defense. They're well aware that without him they likely would have traded their sticks for golf clubs long ago.


    ''Looking back since I came here a couple years ago, he's been the best player in almost all of the games played,'' Filip Forsberg said. ''We have all the belief in Pekks we can ever have. I'm looking forward to see him play next game.''
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    NHL notebook: Senators' Brassard to miss 4-5 months after shoulder surgery
    May 30, 2017



    Ottawa Senators forward Derick Brassard will undergo shoulder surgery that will likely sideline him for four to five months, the team announced Tuesday.


    Brassard has a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder. The recovery timeframe could cause Brassard to miss the beginning of next season.


    Brassard, 29, tallied 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists) this season, his first with the Senators. He scored 141 goals and registered 382 points in 10 NHL seasons.


    --Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky underwent wrist surgery and will be sidelined approximately three months.


    "Brandon had been experiencing discomfort in his wrist since the season ended and after an examination last week it was determined that surgery was the best course of action at this time," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.


    Dubinsky, 31, scored 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) last season.Overall, Dubinsky has scored 141 goals and 408 points over 11 NHL campaigns.


    --The New York Islanders announced that Scott Gomez has been named an assistant coach.


    Gomez, who retired after the 2015-16 season after 16 NHL seasons, won a Calder Memorial Trophy in 1999-00 as the league's top rookie, as well as two Stanley Cup Championships with the New Jersey Devils (2000, 2003).


    A two-time NHL All-Star, Gomez scored 181 goals and added 575 assists with the Devils, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators.


    --The Minnesota Wild announced that assistant coach Scott Stevens resigned from his position so he can spend more time with his family.


    Stevens, a hard-hitting Hall-Of-Fame defenseman in his playing days, spent one season as an assistant coach with Minnesota. The Wild went 49-25-8 during the 2016-17 regular season, setting franchise records for most wins and points (106) in a season.


    Before joining the Wild, Stevens served as an analyst for NHL Network. He was named co-coach for New Jersey on Dec. 27, 2014, after serving two seasons (2012-14) as an assistant coach for the Devils.


    The defenseman spent 13 of his 22 NHL seasons with New Jersey and captained the team to three Stanley Cup Championships in 1995, 2000, and 2003.


    --The Los Angeles Kings named Dave Lowry as an assistant coach.


    Lowry's coaching resume includes experience at the NHL and Western Hockey League (WHL) levels.


    Most recently, Lowry served as the head coach for the Victoria Royals (WHL) for the last five seasons. His club posted a winning record each season and the club made the playoffs all five years. Overall, the team posted a 209-124-27 record under Lowry.


    In 2003-04, Lowry concluded his NHL playing career. He broke in with the Vancouver Canucks in 1985 and went on to play for the St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames, where he served as team captain. In his 1,084 career NHL regular season games, Lowry totaled 351 points and 1191 penalty minutes.
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    Letang had trouble watching Stanley Cup opener
    May 30, 2017



    PITTSBURGH -- If the Pittsburgh Penguins found parts of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators difficult to navigate, and if their fans found it hard to watch at times, perhaps they should all be grateful they were not sitting with Kris Letang.


    "I think when I'm sitting in the (press) box up there, the people sitting next to me don't really like me," the injured Penguins defenseman said with a grin Tuesday, the first time he has spoken publicly since he had season-ending surgery the second week of April for a herniated disc in his neck.


    "I'm screaming. I don't work the best way by watching."


    Letang, 30, Pittsburgh's top defenseman, is a smooth-skating, two-way blue-liner who plays big minutes and whose puck-moving skills help with breakouts and production -- despite several injury and illness setbacks, he is approaching 300 assists and 400 points in his career.


    Letang also has 18 goals, 68 points in 116 career playoff games.


    The Penguins surely could have used him Monday night. Perhaps their 5-3 victory might have come a bit more easily.


    The Predators spotted Pittsburgh an early three-goal lead, then mounted a comeback to tie it while holding the Penguins without a shot for 37 minutes, including all of the second period and most of the third.


    Letang said his recovery is going well and he hopes to get clearance to get back on the ice soon, but with an original four- to six-month recovery time, there is no chance he will play in this series.


    Game 2 is Wednesday at PPG Paints Arena.


    His absence led a lot of prognosticators to say the same about Pittsburgh's chances of making a deep postseason run or winning the Cup -- no chance.


    The Penguins have made conscious adjustments with their defense, most conspicuously spreading minutes fairly evenly rather than asking any player to step into Letang's go-to role.


    Letang, shortly before his surgery, swore his belief in his teammates, particularly team offensive and spiritual leaders such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.


    He predicted Pittsburgh could win the Cup for the second straight year.


    "For the people who were rolling their eyes, you've all seen Sidney Crosby's demeanor, what he wants to accomplish," Letang said. "He's a guy that you can look up to. I was confident to say that in front of a lot of people."


    Coach Mike Sullivan has recruited Letang to help in other ways.


    Letang, popular with his teammates, is encouraged to be around the club. He travels to road games. He announces the starting lineup before each game in the locker room.


    On a more practical level, Letang sits in on some coaches' meetings and has informal conversations with the defensemen, whether it's individually, by the pairing or with the full group, according to Sullivan.


    "We wish we had him in the lineup, but in the absence of that he's a great set of eyes," Sullivan said. "He has so much to offer this group, both our coaching staff and the team as a whole, even though he's not in our lineup."


    Letang just might be coaching himself, too.


    "You kind of realize things that you don't really see at the ice level," he said. "I think as a player, I'm going to learn a lot, too, watching in different situations. It's easy now to go down and tell those guys, 'Hey, this is open. You might not feel like it, but this is open.'


    "It's a different aspect. I always try to think when you're watching a game, you're actually getting better, you're learning more."


    Except how to remain calm in the press box.
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    Wednesday's NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 2 Betting Preview: Predators at Penguins


    Jake Guentzel ended an eight-game drought and tied Claude Lemieux (1986) and Chris Drury (1999) for the most game-winning goals by a rookie in the playoffs with four.


    Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins (-150, 5.5)


    Pens lead series 1-0


    If it were a boxing match, the referee may have stopped the fight. Fortunately for the Pittsburgh Penguins, their heavyweight showdown versus Nashville was scored by the quality of the blows that they landed, allowing them to take a 1-0 series lead into Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the visiting Predators on Wednesday night.


    Pittsburgh's 5-3 victory Monday night came in inexplicable fashion -- the Penguins built and blew a three-goal lead before Jake Guentzel delivered the late tiebreaking tally after his team went more than 37 minutes without registering a shot on net. "It's not textbook," said Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby after the Penguins finished with the fewest shots on goal (12) by a winning team in Stanley Cup history. "We've got some things we need to improve on." The Predators, who are trailing in a series for the first time this postseason, are trying to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time before the best-of-seven set shifts to Nashville. "I thought our guys played great," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said after Monday's game. "We hate the score, we hate the result, but we'll move forward."


    TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS


    LINE HISTORY: The Penguins opened as -170 home favorites for Game 2 and the public must have liked what they saw from the Preds in the opener because by Tuesday night the moneyline was down to -150. The total opened at 5 and was quickly bumped up to 5.5.


    GOALIE MATCHUP: Pekka Rinne (NAS) vs. Matt Murray (PIT)


    Rinne - GP: 17, W/L: 12-5, 1.83 GAA, .934 SAVE %, 2 SO
    Murray - GP: 6, W/L: 4-1, 1.62 GAA, .936 SAVE %, 1 SO


    INJURY REPORT:


    Predators - LW C. Wilson (Questionable, undisclosed), C R. Johansen (Out For Season, thigh), LW K. Fiala (Out For Season, leg).


    Penguins - RW T. Kuhnhackl (Questionable, lower body), D C. Ruhwedel (Questionable, concussion), D K. Letang (Out for season, neck).


    ABOUT THE PREDATORS (53-33-9-4, 45-42 O/U): Pekka Rinne's save percentage has steady decreased since opening the postseason with consecutive shutouts in Chicago, but he's eager to atone after allowing four goals on 11 shots Monday. "That's the best part in the playoffs," Rinne said. "You always get another opportunity, and that's going to happen on Wednesday, so I'm looking forward to that." Colton Sissons continues to shine in place of injured No. 1 center Ryan Johansen with four goals in two games while center Mike Fisher returned from injury to collect two assists -- his first points of the playoffs.

    ABOUT THE PENGUINS (63-26-8-5, 56-39 O/U):
    Pittsburgh received the secondary scoring it had been missing as Conor Sheary, a 23-goal scorer during the regular season, notched his first of the playoffs and Guentzel registered his 10th of the postseason to lead all goal scorers. Guentzel ended an eight-game drought and tied Claude Lemieux (1986) and Chris Drury (1999) for the most game-winning goals by a rookie in the playoffs with four. Crosby matched Chris Kunitz with a pair of assists for his 55th career multiple-point game in the postseason, eclipsing Joe Sakic for sixth place on the all-time list.


    TRENDS:

    * Predators are 0-4 in their last 4 vs. Eastern Conference.
    * Penguins are 1-9 in their last 10 when their opponent allows 5 goals or more in their previous game.
    * Over is 5-1 in Predators last 6 after allowing 5 goals or more in their previous game.
    * Under is 8-2 in Penguins last 10 Stanley Cup Finals games.
    * Predators are 2-9 in the last 11 meetings.

    CONSENSUS:
    60 percent of users are siding with the home favorite Penguins and 52 percent of the totals wagers are on the Under.
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  11. #36  
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    High-scoring hockey has been followed by Under results in Stanley Cup final


    Going back to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, playing the Under following an Over result is a perfect 7-0 winner. Game 2's total is at 5.5 goals.


    A wild and crazy Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final produced a total of eight goals Monday night – the highest scoring Stanley Cup final game since Game 2 of the 2014 final and just the 21st time a Cup final game has gone Over the betting total since the 2005 NHL lockout.


    The Pittsburgh Penguins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period then were locked down by the Nashville Predators, who stormed back to tie the game 3-3 before conceding the game-winning goal and an empty net marker in the closing minutes of the third period. And that was without a first-period score from Nashville that was disallowed after review.


    That 5-3 final score eclipsed the 5.5-goal total for Game 1 and sets up an interesting angle for total bettors heading into Game 2 Wednesday night, which opened with the total at 5.5 goals.


    Since the lockout, Stanley Cup final games following an Over result are 4-12-1 Over/Under (75 percent Under), with three Over results coming in the deciding game of a series (no following game). The average combined score in those contests following an Over is just 4.3 goals.
    Hockey betting action heating up in Vegas as puck drops on Stanley Cup final: Live From Las Vegas
    The puck drops on the Stanley Cup final, and Las Vegas sportsbooks are bracing for a burst of betting action in the hours before Game 1. We talk to Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports at the Wynn Las Vegas, about the Penguins and Predators and which team the bettors like to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup.


    In fact, going back to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, playing the Under following an Over has produced a perfect 7-0 streak. And, if you take the 2010 final out of the equation – which saw the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers top the total in five of six games – you get a Over/Under record of 1-11-1 in Cup final games following an Over since 2006.


    Before Game 1, the Penguins entered the Cup final with a 8-9-2 Over/Under record in the NHL playoffs while the Predators posted a 3-7-6 O/U mark in their first three postseason series. Pittsburgh is 3-3-1 O/U following an Over in these playoffs, with Nashville going 1-1-1 O/U after an Over result.


    Game 2 opened with the total at 5.5 goals (Over +110, Under -130).
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  12. #37  
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    NHL
    Dunkel


    Wednesday, May 31




    Nashville @ Pittsburgh


    Game 3-4
    May 31, 2017 @ 8:00 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Nashville
    14.124
    Pittsburgh
    10.665
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Nashville
    by 3 1/2
    4
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Pittsburgh
    -145
    5
    Dunkel Pick:
    Nashville
    (+125); Under









    NHL
    Long Sheet


    Wednesday, May 31



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    NASHVILLE (53-33-0-13, 119 pts.) at PITTSBURGH (63-26-0-13, 139 pts.) - 5/31/2017, 8:00 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NASHVILLE is 30-35 ATS (-18.6 Units) in non-conference games over the last 2 seasons.
    PITTSBURGH is 127-81 ATS (+42.6 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
    PITTSBURGH is 84-49 ATS (-3.5 Units) second half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
    PITTSBURGH is 47-30 ATS (+9.8 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
    NASHVILLE is 242-194 ATS (+32.3 Units) revenging a loss versus opponent since 1996.
    NASHVILLE is 33-20 ATS (+11.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    NASHVILLE is 25-13 ATS (+11.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season this season.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    PITTSBURGH is 5-2 (+2.5 Units) against the spread versus NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
    PITTSBURGH is 5-2-0 straight up against NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
    4 of 7 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+1.1 Units)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------







    NHL
    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Wednesday, May 31



    Pittsburgh didn’t get a shot on goal for 37:09 stretch in Game 1, still won 5-3. Nashville won five of last eight games overall- they’re 2-3 in last five road games. Under is 6-3-2 in their last 11 games. Penguins won last four home games by combined score of 16-5. Under is 4-3-2 in their last nine games. Pittsburgh is 9-2 in its last 11 games with the Predators; last four series games went over total. Nashville lost five of last six visits here. Penguins won Cup LY and in 2009; they’re 4-1 overall in Stanley Cup final series. Nashville is in its first Stanley Cup final.


    Stanley Cup final
    Nashville-Pittsburgh
    Pitt 5-3, -$160, O5.5








    NHL


    Wednesday, May 31



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    8:00 PM
    NASHVILLE vs. PITTSBURGH
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Nashville's last 7 games when playing on the road against Pittsburgh
    Nashville is 12-5 SU in its last 17 games
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Pittsburgh's last 7 games when playing at home against Nashville
    Pittsburgh is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Nashville
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    Prosecutors to drop charges in Stanley Cup dead catfish toss
    May 31, 2017



    PITTSBURGH (AP) Prosecutors are dropping charges filed against a Tennessee man for throwing a catfish onto the rink in Pittsburgh during the opening of the Stanley Cup Final.


    Thirty-six-year-old Jacob Waddell was charged in Allegheny County with disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime and disrupting meetings or processions after tossing the dead fish over the glass surrounding the rink Monday night during the Nashville Predators-Pittsburgh Penguins game.


    District Attorney Stephen Zappala said in a Facebook post Wednesday that Waddell's actions ''do not rise to the level of criminal charges'' so the charges ''will be withdrawn in a timely manner.''


    Nashville Mayor Megan Barry had called for the charges to be ''quickly dismissed.''


    Waddell called himself ''a dumb redneck with a bad idea'' in a conversation with Nashville radio station WGFX-FM .


    He says he sneaked the fish into the arena by hiding it between layers of underwear, running the fish over with his truck several times to make it easier to pack.
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  14. #39  
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    WEDNESDAY, MAY 31


    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS


    NAS at PIT 08:00 PM


    NAS +130


    U 5.5
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    Guentzel-led Pens take 2-0 lead vs. Preds
    May 31, 2017



    PITTSBURGH (AP) By coach Peter Laviolette's math, the Nashville Predators have been pretty good for all but 10 minutes of the Stanley Cup Final.


    It's not much. Unless you're playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Then it's too much. Way too much.


    The defending Stanley Cup champions needed just over three minutes at the start of the third period to turn a taut Game 2 into a runaway, beating Pekka Rinne three times in a 4-1 victory on Wednesday night to inch closer to becoming the first team in nearly 20 years to win back-to-back titles.


    The barrage started with Jake Guentzel. Mired in an eight-game goal drought heading into the series, the 22-year-old Nebraska-born rookie provided the winner in Game 1 and again in Game 2 when he pounded home a rebound just 10 seconds into the third for his third of the series and 12th of the playoffs.


    ''It's crazy,'' said Guentzel, who has an NHL rookie record five game-winning goals this postseason. ''You can't even put into words what it feels. But we know the ultimate goal is two more wins and they're going to be tough to get.''


    Only if Rinne turns back into Rinne. The 34-year-old spent the first three rounds of the playoffs helping carry Nashville to the Final for the first time. Now he's the biggest reason the Predators head back to ''Smashville'' for Game 3 on Saturday night reeling. After giving up four goals on 11 shots in Game 1, he allowed four more on 25 shots in Game 2. He was pulled when Evgeni Malkin ended Pittsburgh's surge with his ninth of the playoffs 3:28 into the third.


    Rinne entered the series with a .947 save percentage in the postseason. Against Pittsburgh, it's at .777 and he remains winless in his career against the Penguins in games he's started.


    ''The limited chances they've had they've done a good job,'' Rinne said. ''Overall these two games, like I said, it's disappointing to be down 2-0 but we have to be feeling still positive with the way we played as a whole and creating chances.''


    Asked twice afterward if he was committed to starting Rinne on Saturday, Laviolette stressed Rinne has been ''terrific,'' adding there are plenty of things the Predators can do better in front of him like stopping the odd-man rushes that allowed the Penguins to take charge.


    ''There's a stretch they're able to gain some momentum, able to capitalize and be opportunistic and that swung two games in their favor,'' he said.


    Pontus Aberg scored the lone goal for the Predators , who were once again undone by a sudden barrage from the NHL's highest-scoring team, though they haven't lost faith in Rinne. Defenseman P.K. Subban said the team was ''extremely confident'' and in the prospect of going home, where the Predators are 7-1 during the playoffs.


    ''We're going to win the next game and then we'll see what happens from there,'' Subban said.


    It wouldn't take much to be better than what happened in Pittsburgh.


    In Game 1, the Penguins pushed three goals by Rinne in a span of 4:11 in the first period to build a 3-0 lead. The Predators rallied to tie before Guentzel's go-ahead goal with 3:17 remaining put the Penguins ahead to stay.


    This time, Pittsburgh's flurry came a little bit later. And it was once again led by the baby-faced son of a coach who has no problem shouldering the responsibility of playing alongside star Sidney Crosby.


    The game was tied at 1 at the start of the third period when Guentzel jumped on a rebound to put Pittsburgh ahead. It was 1 second shy of the fastest goal to start a period in Final history.


    Wilson was credited with his third of the playoffs just over 3 minutes later when a centering pass caromed off Nashville's Vernon Fiddler and by Rinne. Malkin's shot sent Rinne to the bench in favor of backup Juuse Saros, who made his playoff debut.


    ''When we score one, we don't stop,'' Malkin said. ''We want to score more. The first shift in the third period, we score. We want more. It's our game. Never stop.''


    Pittsburgh vowed to put more pressure on Rinne than it managed in their 5-3 victory in Game 1, a win they managed despite going 37 minutes without throwing a single puck Rinne's way and none in the second period, the first time that's happened since the NHL started tracking shots in 1957.


    The Penguins matched their entire shot total from the opener (12) by the end of the first period but still found themselves trying to keep up with the Predators. The Stanley Cup newbies were disappointed but not dismayed by their Game 1 loss, pointing to the way they carried play for long stretches as tangible proof they weren't just happy to be here.


    The result was the kind of up-and-down play that showcased the speed on both sides and included more than a dash of antagonism, particularly early.


    Nashville's Matt Irwin drilled Pittsburgh's Matt Cullen from behind into the boards in the first period, a hit that left the 40-year-old Cullen headed down the runway for a quick check but didn't result in a penalty. Minutes later, Penguins forward Chris Kunitz became tangled up with P.K. Subban and ended up cross-checking Subban in the head, part of a sequence that saw Malkin go off for hooking. Malkin and Subban even ended up fighting in the third period when things got out of hand.


    It was a scene hard to imagine through the first two taut and chippy periods.


    Pittsburgh stayed in it thanks to Matt Murray (37 saves) and when Pittsburgh returned to the ice for the start of the third they, as coach Mike Sullivan is fond of saying, ''got to their game.''


    A style that now has the Penguins two victories away from the cusp of a dynasty.
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    Thursday’s six-pack


    — Astros 17, Twins 6— In nine innings vs Minnesota bullpen this week, Astros scored 28 runs.


    — A’s 3, Indians 1— Chad Pinder homered twice for a team that really needed a win.


    — Padres 2, Cubs 1— Chicago lost its eight road games; this was an 0-6 road trip.


    — Brewers 7, Mets 1— You walk Eric Sogard three times, you deserve to lose.


    — They sell roasted grasshoppers at Mariner games in Seattle. Seriously.


    — Mike Tirico will replace Al Michaels on Thursday Night Football this fall.


    *****************************


    Thursday’s Den: How MLB teams do in series openers……


    Series records for major league teams (thru May 31):


    Road-Home/Total


    National League

    Ariz: 1-4-2…..7-2….8-6-2
    All: 4-5-1…2-3-2…6-8-3
    Chi: 4-4….5-2-1….9-6-1
    Cin: 4-3-1…3-4-2…7-7-3
    Col: 7-0-1…5-2-1…12-2-2
    LA: 1-4-2…5-1-3….6-5-5
    Mia: 2-5-2…2-5-1…4-10-3
    Mil: 4-2-1…3-5-1…7-7-2
    NY: 4-3……4-5……8-8
    Phil: 1-7……3-5……4-12
    Pitt: 2-5-2….5-3…..7-8-2
    StL: 3-3-1…3-5-1…6-8-1
    SD: 3-6….2-4-2…5-10-2
    SF: 2-6-1…4-2-1…6-8-2
    Wsh: 4-4…..8-9……12-13

    American League

    Balt: 2-4-2….7-1…..9-5-2
    Bos: .3-4….6-2-2…9-6-2
    Chi: 4-4-1…3-3-1…7-7-2
    Clev: 5-3-1….2-6…..7-9-1
    Det: 2-4-3….4-2-1…6-6-4
    Hst: 6-1……7-2…..13-3
    KC: 3-5…..2-4-2….5-9-2
    LAA: 1-6-2…3-2-2….4-8-4
    Min: 6-1……3-6……9-7
    NY: 3-4-1…..7-1….10-5-1
    A’s: 1-7…..5-1-2….6-8-2
    Sea: 3-7……5-2…….8-9
    TB: 4-4…..4-3-2….8-7-2
    Tex: 2-6-1…..5-3.….7-9-1
    Tor: 2-5-2…..4-4…..6-9-2
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  17. #42  
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    NHL playoffs
    Game 3



    Pittsburgh won first two Finals games at home; they’re 10-2 in last 12 games with Nashville- four of last five series games went over. Predators won four of its last five home games; under is 7-3-2 in their last 11 games, 3-1-1 in last five at home. Pittsburgh is 2-3 in last five road games, scoring total of nine goals. Under is 4-3-2 in their last nine games. Penguins won Cup LY and in 2009; they’re 4-1 overall in Stanley Cup final series. Nashville is in its first Stanley Cup final.

    Stanley Cup final



    Nashville-Pittsburgh
    Pitt 5-3, -$160, O5.5
    Pitt 4-1, -$140, U5.5
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  18. #43  
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    Nashville's Rinne's struggles continue
    May 31, 2017



    PITTSBURGH (AP) The Nashville Predators insist goaltender Pekka Rinne isn't to blame for the 2-0 series deficit against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.


    Rinne is just looking to put both games in the past.


    Pittsburgh overwhelmed Rinne and the rest of the Predators with a three-goal blitz in the first 3:18 of the third period during a 4-1 win Wednesday night, a game that ended with Nashville's star goaltender on the bench after he was pulled by coach Peter Laviolette. The coach did not commit to starting him when the series resumes this weekend, though he praised his goaltender throughout the postgame news conference.


    ''When you lose a couple games and get pulled, you're not happy about how things went,'' Rinne said. ''But you have to put those things behind and focus on the things you can control and that's Game 3.''


    That game is Saturday night in Nashville, and Rinne and the Predators are counting on a big dose of energy from a wild fan base that will be seeing the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final game at home.


    ''Our focus is Game 3 and going home to a crowd that's going to be electric,'' Predators' captain Mike Fisher said. ''We're going to feed off that energy and we're going to be ready.''


    Fifty teams have taken a 2-0 lead since the final went to a best-of-seven format in 1939. Of those, 90 percent went on to win the Stanley Cup, including Pittsburgh last season. Boston, in 2011, was the last team to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the Final, rallying to defeat Vancouver in seven games. Pittsburgh also did it in 2009, losing both games on the road against Detroit.


    ''It's obviously very disappointing right now, but it's a series and we're down 2-0 going home,'' Rinne said. ''I think we're looking forward to playing in front of our fans.''


    Rinne was 4-0 in the playoffs following a loss, but he watched the majority of the third period as backup Juuse Saros made his playoff debut. The Penguins beat Rinne four times on just 11 shots in Game 1 and scored four goals on 25 shots Wednesday for their 2-0 series lead.


    Rinne is a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist who entered the final as the hottest goaltender in the playoffs with a .947 save percentage. But he has never started and won a game against the Penguins, and he has looked decidedly shaky, posting a .777 save percentage, in the first two games of the biggest series of his life.


    ''For me, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,'' Rinne said ''I've played a long time and this is my first time having a chance to play for the Cup. I think you have to bury these two games, move ahead and just find a way to have some success.''


    It hasn't been easy against Pittsburgh.


    Rinne is now 1-7-2 lifetime against Pittsburgh - his lone win came in relief at Nashville - and he entered the series with a .880 save percentage and a 3.57 goals-against average. Those numbers ballooned after the first two games against the Penguins.


    Rinne is now winless in five career starts at Pittsburgh and looking to change his luck in Nashville where the Predators are 7-1 in the playoffs.


    ''Pekka's been excellent for us all year long,'' Laviolette said. ''There's things we could've done. all three goals in the third period were odd-man rushes.''


    Rinne stopped 18 of the first 19 shots faced through the first two periods, but he allowed a shaky goal in the first period to Jake Guentzel, the Game 1 hero for Pittsburgh, who squeezed a rebound between Rinne's arm and body while he hugged the post.


    Guentzel struck again 10 seconds into the third period to put Pittsburgh in front for good.


    Rinne kicked a Bryan Rust rebound to the slot where Guentzel scored his 12th of the playoffs and second of the game. Pittsburgh scored soon after to make it 3-1, a goal that was credited to Scott Wilson, who got a piece of the puck before it went off the skate of Nashville forward Vernon Fiddler and between Rinne's pads.


    Evgeni Malkin extended Pittsburgh's lead to 4-1 just 15 seconds later, beating Rinne with a wrist shot during a two-on-one.


    That was enough to end Rinne's night, but the Predators aren't blaming their goaltender for the series deficit.


    ''He's the reason why we're here,'' Fisher said. ''It's not his fault by any means. We need to be better in front of him.''
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  19. #44  
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    Date W-L-T % Units Record


    05/31/2017................... 1-1-0 ....................50.00%.................... +0


    05/29/2017................... 0-2-0..................... 0.00%.................. -1050
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    NHL notebook: Predators' Laviolette tight-lipped on Game 3 goalie
    June 1, 2017



    Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette on Thursday declined to specify whether franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne will start in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.


    That doesn't mean that backup Juuse Saros will start Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena after he replaced Rinne in the third period of Wednesday's Game 2 for his first career playoff appearance. That seems unlikely.


    It does, however, illustrate the hard times the Predators face as they trail Pittsburgh 2-0 with their top goalie struggling.


    Rinne has been described by his teammates throughout the postseason as Nashville's best player and MVP, but the Penguins have scored eight goals on 36 shots against him.


    --Shawn Thornton has a new job title as the Florida Panthers named the recently retired forward as their vice president of business operations.


    A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Thornton collected 102 points (42 goals, 60 assists) in 705 career games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Panthers. He had two goals and two assists in 50 games with Florida this past season.


    --The Panthers signed forwards Henrik Haapala and Maxim Mamin to two-year entry-level contracts.


    Haapala, 23, appeared in 51 games with Tampere Tappara of Finland's Liiga, recording a league-leading 45 assists to go along with 15 goals. He was awarded the Veli-Pekka Ketola Trophy as Liiga's points leader.


    Mamin, 22, appeared in 42 games with CSKA Moscow of the KHL, scoring 12 goals and adding 13 assists before producing three points in nine playoff games.


    --A day after acquiring his rights from the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Los Angeles Kings signed 20-year-old forward Bokondji Imama to a three-year entry-level contract on Thursday.


    Imama, a 6-foot-1, 221-pound forward, played in 66 regular-season games with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this past season, recording 41 goals and 55 points to go along with 105 penalty minutes and a plus-11 rating.


    --The San Jose Sharks will retain the rights to 2016 draft picks forward Noah Gregor and defenseman Mark Shoemaker after issuing them offers.


    Gregor, 18, scored 27 goals and added 34 assists to go along with a plus-5 rating in 52 WHL games with Moose Jaw in 2016-17.


    Shoemaker, 19, recorded 16 assists and 22 penalty minutes in 68 games with North Bay of the Ontario Hockey League in 2016-17. He was selected by San Jose in the sixth round.


    Defenseman Adam Parsells, a 2015 draft pick, was not signed to a contract by the June 1 deadline and will re-enter the draft.


    --The Washington Capitals re-signed left winger Nathan Walker to a two-year, two-way contract.


    Walker, 23, scored 11 goals with 12 assists and a plus-11 rating in 58 games with AHL Hershey during the 2016-17 season.


    --The Vegas Golden Knights signed Czech Republic free agent forward Tomas Hyka to an entry-level contract on Thursday.


    The 24-year-old most recently played for his hometown club of Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Extraliga. Last season, Hyka skated in 48 regular-season games and led his team with 17 goals and 21 assists.


    In 130 career regular-season games with Mlada Boleslav, he scored 37 goals with 42 assists while adding nine goals and three assists in 24 postseason contests.
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    Guentzel climbing record book
    June 1, 2017



    PITTSBURGH (AP) The fresh-faced, 22-year-old rookie who leads the NHL in playoff goals - a hot streak that has him in the middle of the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation given to the postseason MVP - was once too embarrassed to shoot the puck.


    So Jake Guentzel didn't. Not in any sort of great quantity. Better to use his uncanny vision to set up teammates than be greedy. It's a mindset that helped the budding Pittsburgh Penguins star set a school record for assists during his freshman year at Nebraska-Omaha three years ago, a selflessness coach Dean Blais tried to change, with mixed results.


    ''You want to be unselfish,'' Blais said told Guentzel over and over during Guentzel's three years with the Mavericks. ''But when you've got the opportunity to bury it, you bury it.''


    Consider the message finally received.


    Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne twice in Pittsburgh's 4-1 win in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday as the Penguins took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Nebraska-born, Minnesota-raised son of a coach who spent most of his childhood trying to keep up with older brothers Ryan and Gabe now has a dozen goals during the postseason. That's the most ever by an American-born rookie and within two of Dino Ciccarelli's NHL rookie record set while playing for the Minnesota North Stars in 1981. Oh, and his five game-winning goals so far are tops among first-year players in a league that dates back a century.


    ''Someone that would have dreamed this is lying,'' Blais said with a laugh.


    Maybe, but this is hardly a fluke. Painting the beginning of Guentzel's NHL career as charmed - he did happen to score on his first two shots in his NHL debut in a loss against the New York Rangers in November - doesn't do justice to his talent and work ethic.


    Sure, there's a little puck luck involved, but not much. You don't pour in 28 goals and 24 assists in 61 games thanks to a bounce or two.


    ''He's been given a lot of responsibility and he's done a great job of just continuing to improve and compete,'' Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said.


    It's not a coincidence Pittsburgh's equipment manager Dana Heinze put Guentzel in a stall adjacent to Crosby's when the rookie was called up for good in January.


    It's a practice the team uses to give young players a chance to get acclimated to life in the NHL while sitting next to the face of the game. Putting a newbie next to Crosby also creates minimal distraction for the rest of the room during the daily media crush around the two-time Hart Trophy winner.


    Eventually, however, the crowd breaks up. It's in those quiet moments that Crosby becomes equal parts mentor and teammate.


    ''I think Sid has a really nice way of making those guys feel comfortable when they come into our dressing room,'' Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ''The influence he has on these kids goes a long way to giving these kids the confidence that they need.''


    Not that Guentzel has ever lacked confidence (his Twitter handle is the playful jakenbake20 ), even if he doesn't exactly fit the physical profile of an elite goal scorer at 5-feet-11 and 180 pounds. Yet he's thrived anyway thanks to a preternatural sense of timing and a hockey IQ gleaned from a lifetime around the game. He was never the biggest in his family but found a way to keep up with Gabe (six years older) and Ryan (eight years older) anyway.


    ''He got the puck taken away from him a lot,'' Blais said. ''So he learned how to move it. How to protect it. He was always one step ahead.''


    In some ways, he still is.


    Guentzel's winner in Game 1 against Nashville is a testament to his vision and patience. He was at center ice when the puck was pinched along the wall. He began sprinting toward the Nashville zone before teammate Brian Dumoulin even had it. By the time Guentzel collected Matt Cullen's one-touch pass, he was racing in on Rinne. Rather than just fling the puck at the goaltender, he pulled it back , allowing Nashville's Ryan Ellis to inadvertently screen Rinne. The goaltender could only wave his glove at it as it ripped into the net to put Pittsburgh ahead to stay.


    The player who never wanted to shoot now can't seem to stop. Blais can't help but laugh. Maybe the problem before wasn't the message but the messengers.


    ''I might say it, Sullivan says it,'' Blais said. ''But when Sid tells you to shoot the puck, you better shoot the puck.''


    Guentzel had an eight-game goal drought that lasted from Game 6 of the second round against Washington until the opener of the Final. Sullivan opted to keep Guentzel in the lineup, though he briefly took him off Crosby's line in hopes of a reset.


    The two were reunited during the latter portions of Game 2. Guentzel's rebound goal 10 seconds into the third period came on a set play of sorts. Bryan Rust came in on the rush and flipped the puck at Rinne. The rebound went right to Guentzel waiting in the slot. He had no problem powering it into the open net .


    ''When the plays are there, his instincts will take over,'' Sullivan said. ''He's a real talented kid.''


    When he was at Omaha, Guentzel would arrive two hours early to practice, meticulously preparing his gear, then going to pick the brain of the coaching staff until his teammates showed up.


    ''He'd want to know what was going on,'' Blais said.


    That kind of focus has served Guentzel well during his transition to the NHL. He doesn't think too much about the big picture, just the little ones. That attention to detail helped him earn a captaincy with the Mavericks and when Blais describes Guentzel's leadership style, it sounds an awful lot like the guy Guentzel hangs his No. 59 sweater next to every day.


    ''He'll say things to the point and not be a `rah rah' type guy,'' Blais said. ''He'll just say the right thing. He prepares himself for success.''


    Good thing, because it's coming. Fast.
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  22. #47  
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    Wrong number text leads couple to free Stanley Cup tickets
    June 2, 2017



    PITTSBURGH (AP) A text message sent to the wrong number led to a Pittsburgh couple scoring free tickets to see the Penguins play Game 2 in the Stanley Cup Final.


    KDKA-TV reports (http://cbsloc.al/2sjMRoJ ) Amy Santora received a text offering four tickets to Wednesday night's game against Nashville. She called the number, and the man at the other end said he sent the text to the wrong number.


    Santora says the man called her back a few minutes later, saying the text's intended recipient only wanted one set of the tickets.


    The tickets were priced at $329. The man told Santora she could have them for free.


    Santora and her husband took the man up on his offer, finding seats behind the goalie.


    As for the mystery texter, Santora says ''whoever you are, thank you.''
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  23. #48  
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    Saturday’s six-pack


    Early pointspreads on some interesting college football games this fall:


    — Sept 9: Oklahoma @ Ohio State (-8)


    — Sept 16: Texas @ USC (-12)


    — Sept 23: Arkansas vs Texas A&M (-10) (@ Arlington)


    — Oct 7: Michigan State @ Michigan (-15)


    — Oct 21 USC (-6.5) @ Notre Dame


    — Oct 28: Georgia (-3) vs Florida (@ Jacksonville)


    ****************************


    Saturday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here……

    13) Davidson College is in the NCAA baseball tournament for the first time in 115 years; they upset North Carolina on Friday. Apparently their best pitcher is a 5-10 kid named Durin O’Linger who is a very good pitcher but not a pro prospect— great student, going to go to pharmacy school next. Terrific story.


    Mr O’Linger threw 140 pitches in a game on May 24, then threw 51 more two days later. On the 27th, he threw 45 more pitches, then threw 92 against the Tar Heels yesterday.


    All of this ignited a small firestorm on Twitter ignited by ESPN’s Keith Law, who went after the Davidson coach for abusing the kid’s arm. Couple of his ex-teammates objected strongly to that. It is an interesting debate; the kid will never play pro baseball, and he wants to make history for his school, with his friends. It is the kid’s choice, yes?


    12) Westgate Casino in Las Vegas has a $1,500 NFL SuperContest every year; you pick five NFL games a week, and there are prizes— first place has been as much as $900,000 in the past.


    This year, they’re adding a new angle; a separate $5,000 “Gold” SuperContest where there is only one winner— curious to see how many people sign up for that event.


    11) From ESPN: Clayton Kershaw has been the betting favorite in his last 150 starts; next longest active streak is Carlos Carrasco of Cleveland (29).


    10) 14 college freshmen were drafted by NBA teams last June; 20 are expected to be selected this year.


    9) Lebron James is in his 8th NBA Final; his team has been underdog in six of those eight.


    8) Cleveland Cavaliers are still paying former head coach Mike Brown, who is the interim head coach of the Warriors right now.


    7) Mets’ catcher Travis d’Arnaud says he uses a different bat every day, often times one that belongs to a teammate. Mets’ TV guy Keith Hernandez said he never heard of that before.


    Best wishes to Hernandez by the way; he had knee replacement surgery Friday.


    6) Cubs had bases loaded, one out in 6th inning Friday and they pinch-hit for Kyle Schwarber. Baseball is a tough game. Schwarber is hitting .139 vs lefties this season.


    5) Marlins’ 1B Justin Bour stole his first career base Thursday, in his 310th career game.


    4) Las Vegas Golden Knights have been posted at 200-1 to win the Stanley Cup next season; they don’t have any players yet- they’re an expansion team. Who would bet on them?


    3) Quincy McKnight averaged 18.9 pts/game at Sacred Heart last year but will transfer to Seton Hall, as big $$$ schools continue to poach good players from low D-I programs. McKnight will sit next year, then have two years left to play.


    2) If you don’t think medicine and science are bleeping amazing, consider this; Hall of Famer Rod Carew was on TV during the Twins-Angels game Thursday night. He had both a heart transplant and a kidney transplant earlier this year, now says he feels good. Great to hear!!!


    1) Kansas State WR Corey Sutton got a release from his scholarship, can go anywhere he likes now; K-State had originally blocked his transfer, but it was becoming a PR debacle so the school relented and he is gone.
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  24. #49  
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    Saturday's Best Bet
    June 2, 2017



    NHL Stanley Cup Finals Best Bet


    Pittsburgh vs. Nashville – Game 3


    Sportsbook.ag Odds: Pittsburgh (+120), Nashville (-140); Total set at 5.5



    After going 2-0 and cashing the selections for Game 1 and Game 2 already in these Stanley Cup Finals as the series shifts to Nashville. The Predators have been the better team overall for the large majority of this series, yet, brief physical and mental lapses have cost them dearly.


    The scary thing in that regard for Nashville fans is the notion that Pittsburgh can play much better still and they are the ones with the 2-0 series lead. Can Nashville get back into it in Game 3, or will it become basically a formality that the Penguins defend their crown?


    Odds per - Sportsbook.ag


    Best Bet: Nashville Predators ML (-140)



    The biggest question mark surrounding this selection is the question of if the Nashville Predators go back to Pekka Rinne between the pipes here. Rinne has had a couple of rough outings in these Stanley Cup Finals so far, but it's tough to see the Predators not going back with the veteran goalie in this game.


    For one, Rinne is a big part of why the Predators are still playing hockey right now and there is still a bit of room left on the leash in that regard. Secondly, it's going to be really tough to give backup Juuse Saros his first ever playoff start in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, down 0-2 in the series.


    When Pittsburgh decided to change to Matt Murray last round, it wasn't like they were going to a guy who didn't have past playoff success to bank on. That's not really the case in Nashville and the Preds are likely going to sink or swim with Rinne in net the rest of the way.


    Even if it there is a goalie switch (the line will likely drop a touch but I still like the play), the fact that Nashville has dominated the bulk of action and don't have a win to show for it yet should be rectified in Game 3. The Preds just have so much more confidence in their own building, and being a desperate bunch in Game 3, the home crowd should be enough to put the Preds over the top here.


    That story won't be the same for Game 4 regardless of what happens in Game 3, but Nashville absolutely has to come out with everything right from the outset, and hope Rinne (or whomever is in net) can hold up their end of the bargain. Rinne has allowed 1 goal or less in five of Nashville's eight home games, so the odds of him rebounding in familiar territory are quite high.


    P.K Subban's guarantee aside, Game 3 is one the Predators absolutely have to have if they want any realistic hope of getting back into this series. They've already been the better team on the ice for the majority of the time, and if they can continue in that regard, it will help Nashville make their own good luck.


    Nashville has scored at least 2 goals in every playoff home game so far this spring, and if they can hit that mark early and play for a lead for the first time in this series, we should see a much more confident Predators team the rest of the way. Remember, this is the first series they've trailed in this spring, and they've yet to officially lead at any point in the first two games of this series. A return home is that kick in the pants this Nashville team needs to get over the hump and get a W.


    Pittsburgh understands that Nashville will start Game 3 with guns blazing, but given how the bulk of play has gone so far, I'm not sure Pittsburgh can do anything to withstand it. The Penguins have been far from their high standards, but Nashville's speed and physicality have completely frustrated the Penguins for long stretches of time, and if the Pens are forced to play uphill for the first time in this series, they simply might not have enough to push back – unless Nashville suffers another one of those 5 minute lapses.
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    How catfish toss came to be Preds thing
    June 2, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Detroit Red Wings fans have their octopi. The Panthers' faithful in Florida had the ''rat trick.''


    Nashville? The Predators have catfish, the Southern staple that has become a beloved badge of honor fans delight in throwing onto the ice for good luck.


    Who started Music City's slippery tradition? This fish tale stretches from the home of one of the Original Six NHL franchises to what once was one of Nashville's seediest neighborhoods a generation ago, following the long and twisting path of a man who has been a country music drummer, disc jockey, chef and restaurant owner. And, as he tells it, Nashville's original catfish chucker.


    That man is Bob Wolf, and he feels his need for secrecy finally is at an end.


    ''It's been 20 years almost, and it's time,'' Wolf said.


    Indeed it is. The Predators are about to host their first Stanley Cup Final game, on Saturday night. Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven series 2-0, but that's another story.


    Nashville's catfish tradition is well known around here, but it became national news earlier this week thanks to Jacob Waddell, 36 .


    After an extraordinary effort to conceal a flattened catfish on his person, Waddell threw it onto the ice - in Pittsburgh - on Monday night. The Predators then scored three goals before Pittsburgh pulled out a 5-3 win in the opener. Waddell was charged with disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime and disrupting meetings or processions before they were withdrawn.


    Wolf, of course, watched all this from afar with some measure of satisfaction.


    He says the idea to toss a catfish grew out a discussion at Wolfy's during the Predators' inaugural season, back in 1998-99. Wolf is a Rangers' fan born in Brooklyn who had played drums for Johnny Paycheck and others before going into the restaurant business in Nashville. He helped open the restaurant bearing his name across from renowned honky-tonk Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. He also lobbied Nashville to build an arena on the other corner to spur redevelopment of what then was a neighborhood down on its luck.


    Back then, he served burgers to construction workers and the Predators' new owner, Craig Leipold. Once Nashville landed an NHL expansion franchise, Wolfy's became a go-to stop for fans and players. There were also a fair number of Red Wings fans in the area, thanks to General Motors' nearby Saturn plant and the automaker's close ties to Detroit.


    The Red Wings immediately became Nashville's biggest foe.


    A couple days before Detroit's visit in January 1999, Wolf said, he sat with friends looking for a uniquely Tennessee answer to the Red Wings' storied octopus tradition. Jack Daniel's whiskey was too precious. Guitar picks way too small. Wolf's inspiration came when he walked outside and looked down Broadway to the Cumberland River.


    Catfish!


    Wolf bought a nine-pound catfish and wrapped it in newspaper and plastic wrap. On Jan. 26, 1999, Wolf tucked the catfish underneath his Predators' jersey, walked in and waited for Nashville's first goal. The stench started wafting around him until the Preds' lone goal in what ended up a 4-1 loss.


    Wolf said he tossed the catfish, then ran up the aisle. Friends around the arena provided cover and a distraction by running as well.


    ''The first time I saw the catfish flop on the ice, we were playing Detroit so I thought it was an octopus,'' Leipold, now owner of the Minnesota Wild, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. ''I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it was a catfish. I figured that it had to be one of our fans mocking the Red Wings. I was not disappointed.''


    Wolf said Leipold, still a close friend, did not know about the catfish. With a small bar inside the arena, Wolf said he knew where to hide from security, too.


    ''It wasn't meant to be anything but fun and answer Detroit's call to their octopus,'' said Wolf, now semi-retired and living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. ''`Hey, we're the new Southern team on the ice, and we're going to throw a catfish on the ice.' That was kind of the attitude that day.''


    Nashville was hooked. The catfish caught on. The tradition became so popular that officials started handing out delay of game penalties against the Predators, which put things on ice for a while.


    With the Predators' in the playoffs for the 10th time in 13 years, there has been a catfish comeback. Dead fish have never been so popular.


    Five hit the ice one night early in the playoffs. The offensive linemen of the NFL's Tennessee Titans held up catfish while revving up fans before another game. Country star Keith Urban even held up a catfish, and the linemen had more catfish for Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. When Colton Sissons finished a hat trick, left tackle Taylor Lewan celebrated by throwing a catfish instead of a hat.


    Little Fish Market in Nashville was offering a free catfish to fans with a ticket to Game 3 or Game 4 - that's $1.95 a pound, including head, skin and guts.


    The Predators don't discuss security procedures, and it's not clear how many catfish will be in attendance - in secret or otherwise - at Games 3 and 4. No etiquette exists for the best time to throw a catfish, though fans have largely avoided throwing them on the ice during play this season. It essentially gives the other team a free timeout, after all, and there's that threat of putting the other team on a power play.


    Tossing catfish during pregame festivities appears to work best for fans, with one caveat: Don't hit the anthem singer.


    Pete Weber, the Predators' radio play-by-play man, loves explaining to outsiders why Nashville fans toss a catfish.


    ''I really tend to get tickled when I see a catfish go over the glass,'' Weber said. ''I absolutely love that.''


    Wolf marvels at the Predators' success and the tradition that started with a single fish.


    ''The idea was to keep it a secret, and obviously we did a good job until the Pittsburgh fish,'' Wolf said. ''And this story has to get out. It's a fun story, and it sets the record straight.''
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