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Thread: Cnotes 2017 Stanley Cup Championship Trends-Stats-Picks-News !

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  1. #51  
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    Pens' Nick Bonino on crutches, game-time decision for Game 3
    June 2, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Pittsburgh center Nick Bonino was wearing a walking boot on his left foot and using crutches Friday, raising the possibility that he will not play in Nashville in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.


    Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said the veteran has a lower-body injury and will be a game-time decision against the Predators on Saturday night. Team captain Sidney Crosby said everybody's banged up at this time of year on both teams.


    ''I think everyone's prepared regardless of who's in,'' Crosby said. ''Everyone's going to do whatever it takes to make sure they can play. And if not, then someone else who steps in is ready to take on that challenge.''


    The Predators have been without their top center Ryan Johansen the past four games, and he won't be back until next season after needing emergency surgery for acute compartment syndrome in his left thigh.


    Bonino plays on Pittsburgh's fourth line, but the veteran is a key penalty killer. He had a slap shot from Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban go off the inside of his left ankle in Pittsburgh's 4-1 win Wednesday night while on the ice helping kill a big penalty. Bonino went to the locker room but returned to finish the game.


    He walked into the hotel where the Penguins are staying in Nashville using crutches, though he stopped and signed a couple autographs on his way in. If Bonino can't play, then Carl Hagelin could be an option for Sullivan after sitting out the first two games of this series.


    Sullivan said the Penguins have yet to play their best yet and isn't tipping his hand on any changes he might make even with Pittsburgh up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.


    ''We're trying to make it decisions whether it be defense pairs or line combinations that make us the most competitive team,'' Sullivan said.


    Nashville coach Peter Laviolette also refused to talk about any lineup changes he might make, including at goaltender. Pekka Rinne is 7-1 at Bridgestone Arena this postseason with a 1.54 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage, but he has looked average in the first two games of the Final.


    Laviolette's other option is a 22-year-old rookie, Juuse Saros, who made his NHL postseason debut in relief Wednesday night after Rinne gave up three goals in the first 3:28 of the third period . Rinne has an ugly .778 save percentage in losing the two games in Pittsburgh.


    The coach played two goalies the last time he took a team to the Stanley Cup Final, using both Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher when Laviolette's Philadelphia Flyers lost the Cup to Chicago in six games.


    ''When the decision is made, it's my decision,'' Laviolette said.


    Rinne told reporters he knows who is starting in net for the Predators.


    ''I'm going to keep it a secret, I guess,'' Rinne said.


    The 6-foot-5 Finn, a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, has enjoyed the two-day break between games. He's also expecting a boost from the home fans as well.


    ''I feel like this postseason there's been plenty of time, a lot of games when we've been down and have come back from behind in the third period, and I feel like a lot of it is credit to our fans, the energy we have in the building,'' Rinne said. ''It's amazing support, and we really appreciate it.''


    Rinne downplayed all the questions, saying it's been like someone died. The veteran was not going to share how he's tried to clear his head and refocus.


    ''The last two games haven't gone the way I've wanted them to go, and I know the stakes are high, it's the finals and everything,'' Rinne said. ''But I'm still feeling confident. I feel comfortable out there. I do the same preparations as I always do before the games.''


    His teammates can help him out by staying out of the penalty box. The highest-scoring team in the regular season and postseason has scored nine goals against Nashville despite being just 1 of 10 on the power play.


    ''They pressure a lot,'' Crosby said of the Predators. ''They're trying to force mistakes. Once you make a little mistake, they're jumping, making a play on you.''


    Traipsing to the penalty box can drain the energy Nashville needs to keep pace with the Penguins.


    ''Cleaning up just a few mistakes, that would help,'' Laviolette said.
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    Pens, Preds face unusual extra time off
    June 2, 2017



    Time is on the Pittsburgh Penguins' side, with or without momentum.


    Up 2-0 on the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Final, the defending champions have no problem with the schedule that would require 17 days to complete the series if it goes seven games. That's how the Penguins won the Cup a year ago, following this exact pattern in beating the San Jose Sharks.


    ''It's tough to know what it's all about until you go through it and we were able to go through it last year,'' goaltender Matt Murray said. ''(You learn about) a lot of little things: How to deal with travel is one of them, how to deal with an opposing building is another one.''


    More than anything, the Penguins know how to deal with time off that more resembles a playoff series in the NBA than the NHL. While the NBA Finals would take 18 days to complete if the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers go seven, this Cup Final is an anomaly.


    Since the salary-cap era began in 2006, only the 2016 and 2017 Cup Final series have been spread out over more than 15 days. No series in the first three rounds this spring was scheduled for more than 15 days, and all this following a super condensed schedule because of the World Cup and bye weeks that squished an 82-game regular season into 180 days.


    Penguins coach Mike Sullivan considers it a benefit because banged-up and tired players get an extra 24 hours to rest. He doesn't think it does anything for momentum, which a lot of coaches don't believe in, anyway.


    ''I'm not sure it's much different than some of the other series that we've been involved with, other than the rest component,'' Sullivan said. ''My experience of going through these playoff runs in the past has been that each game is its own entity. It seems to take on its own story.''


    The story for the Penguins is that they endured seven-game series in the second and third rounds, needing double overtime to beat the Ottawa Senators four days before the start of the Cup Final. The Predators had a week off after eliminating the Anaheim Ducks in six but still stand to benefit from the schedule, which provides two days between games every time there's travel involved.


    ''I think it's good for everybody,'' said Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who allowed eight goals on 36 shots in the first two games against Pittsburgh. ''At this point of the season it's June and we're fortunate to play hockey still. It's pretty demanding right now, so any day you get to recover and regroup, I think it's beneficial.''


    The extra time off may do little for Predators forward Colin Wilson, who remained off ice Friday because of a lower-body injury. The same goes for Penguins center Nick Bonino, who took a shot from P.K. Subban off the left ankle or foot in Game 2, returned but did not take part in their final full practice before Game 3 Saturday night in Nashville.


    Bonino was in a walking boot and getting around on crutches Friday. He's considered a game-time decision , and center Matt Cullen said: ''Bones is a huge part of everything we do. We all hope he's ready to go, and if not we're going to have to fill a big hole.''


    With almost everyone banged up at this time of year, perhaps it doesn't hurt either team to have some time off. It's downright basketball-like , but as NBA commissioner Adam Silver pointed out in his league, ''There's a direct correlation between fatigue and injury on the part of the players.''


    So the Penguins and Predators will just have to take the unfamiliar schedule and make the most of it.


    ''I think just use it to your advantage,'' Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. ''You can look at it a couple different ways. You get the rest, which is obvious with the day off. As far as preparing, adjusting, all those little things, you get a chance to practice today, which is kind of rare throughout a playoff series. Usually you're getting a day off, maybe a morning skate. To actually go through a practice, go through things you want to adjust, that kind of thing, I think that goes a long way, too.''
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    Pens' Hagelin ready if Bonino can't go
    June 2, 2017



    Pittsburgh Penguins forward Carl Hagelin told reporters he's ready to step in for the injured Nick Bonino if needed for Saturday's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the host Nashville Predators.


    Hagelin has been scratched for the first two contests of the Stanley Cup Final -- both Pittsburgh victories -- but could find himself on the ice with Bonino using crutches and wearing a walking boot on his left leg on Friday.


    Coach Mike Sullivan said that Bonino will be a game-time decision on Saturday as he nurses the lower-body injury, which was sustained while blocking a P.K. Subban shot during Wednesday's 4-1 victory in Game 2.


    "First when you find out, it's disappointing, you're frustrated, you're (ticked) off," Hagelin said of sitting out. "But it's the Stanley Cup Final, it's not about me, it's about the team, so whenever you get the chance, you've got to be ready."


    Hagelin has been dealing with conditioning issues since sustaining a lower-body injury against the Winnipeg Jets on March 10. The 28-year-old Swede missed the last 16 games of the regular season and the first six of the playoffs before he returned for five contests in the second round against the Washington Capitals.


    He sat out the next two games before playing the last six contests of the Eastern Conference final vs. the Ottawa Senators.


    Hagelin skated on a line with veteran Matt Cullen and former Predator Patric Hornqvist during Friday's practice. Carter Rowney took Bonino's spot at center between Conor Sheary and Scott Wilson.
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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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    Penguins' counterattacking style demoralizing to opponents
    June 3, 2017



    Through two games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been badly outshot, lost the majority of faceoffs and had the puck far less than the Nashville Predators.


    Yet, they lead the series 2-0, following a familiar script.


    The Penguins frustrated the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators with this unconventional method of winning. They're doing it again, needing just two more victories to win back-to-back championships.


    The Penguins scored three goals in a span of 3:08 in the third period of Game 2. Pittsburgh won despite a 37-minute shot drought in Game 1.


    ''It's amazing,'' Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said. ''You've got to give Pittsburgh some credit here because they keep doing it. They get outplayed for long stretches, and then they counterattack and then they execute on the counterattack. They make the best of their scoring opportunities, and it seems to be a consistent pattern.''


    It's a winning pattern that that could make Pittsburgh just the third team since the start of the salary-cap era in 2006 to be outshot and win the Cup, following the 2011 Boston Bruins and 2015 Chicago Blackhawks.


    The Penguins lost 44 of 77 faceoffs in Game 2 to fall under 50 percent for the series at 66-68. They've allowed 64 shots and taken 39 and been out-attempted 86-57 at 5-on-5 and are 1 of 10 on the power play.


    Nashville has controlled the play so far with nothing to show for it.


    ''We can't just look at the numbers and say, `Yeah, we're winning all the numbers but the scoreboard,''' Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said Thursday. ''There's got to be things we got to do better.''


    The Penguins are already 9-6 in these playoffs when outshot by an opponent, in part because they're scoring on a league-best 10.9 percent of their shots, which if it stands would be second-best among champions in the cap era behind only the 2010 Blackhawks.


    That kind of shooting success is difficult to sustain over 82 games but not impossible considering the firepower the Penguins have in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.


    ''They got three superstars on that team,'' Senators coach Guy Boucher said. ''At some point or another, they're going to get their looks. It's really tough to defend against that.''


    It's even tougher when the goaltending can't match up. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray have combined for a .930 save percentage as Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky put up an .882, Washington's Braden Holtby a .778 and Nashville's Pekka Rinne a .778 of his own through two games.


    You can't blame Ottawa's Craig Anderson and his .936 save percentage for not knocking out the Penguins, but there are plenty of other reasons the defending champs are still standing.


    Early in the first round, Columbus players called Penguins goals ''lucky'' and ''fluky'' and insisted everything would be all right if they continued to play their game. At one point, captain Nick Foligno said: ''There's so much good that we're doing that it's going to break for us eventually.''


    Sound familiar, Nashville? It didn't ever break for the Blue Jackets and they were ousted in five games despite putting 23 more shots on net than the Penguins. There's a reason Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan stresses a ''counterattack mentality.''


    Given the Capitals' 61-45 shot advantage through two games, Jay Beagle was asked if he was worried that his teammates sounded an awful lot like the Blue Jackets. Yeah, maybe.


    ''You can feel like you're dominating them a little bit, dominating play in their zone a lot, and they strike,'' Beagle said. ''They're really good at obviously capitalizing on their opportunities.''


    Much like P.K. Subban said after the Predators' Game 2 Cup Final loss that they played well for all but about three crucial minutes, the Capitals tried to fend off similar frustration when seemingly every odd-man rush against was turning into a Penguins goal.


    ''It's easy to get frustrated when you feel like you played (better),'' said Brooks Orpik, who won the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. ''Whether you outplay a team for 55 minutes and you still have nothing to show for it, I think you've just got to just have belief in what you're doing that over the course of 60 minutes or over time that eventually you're going to get the result that you want.''


    After coming back to force a Game 7 and losing on home ice, the Capitals came away from the series believing they were the better team but were outplayed. The Predators are similarly talking now about the Penguins' fortunes on bounces but are trying not to fall into the same trap.


    ''The chances that we've given up are low; the shot opportunities we've given up are low,'' Laviolette said. ''But yet we're finding ones that I think we can clean up and help take care of some of the situations that we're leaving against an opportunistic team.''


    Every opponent can agree: Opportunistic is the best way to describe these Penguins.
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    Saturday's NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 3 Betting Preview: Penguins at Predators


    Music City has been a safe haven for the Predators, who are 7-1 in these playoffs at Bridgestone Arena and winners of 11 of their past 12 playoff contests.


    Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators (-135, 5.5)


    Pens lead series 2-0


    Home cookin' traditionally provides a bountiful feast for the Nashville Predators, who hope the change of scenery goes a long way in altering results when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Music City has been a safe haven for the Predators, who are 7-1 in these playoffs at Bridgestone Arena and winners of 11 of their past 12 playoff contests.


    Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban is confident that victory will be on the menu Saturday, providing what is tantamount to a guarantee as well as bulletin-board material for his opponent. "There's no question. We're going to win the next game, and then we'll move forward," said the outspoken Subban, who has seen his team outshoot the Penguins 64-39 -- only to be outscored 9-4 in losing the first two contests of the best-of-seven series. Jake Guentzel has been responsible for both game-winning goals of the series, scoring with 3:17 remaining in Game 1 and setting an NHL rookie record for a playoff year with his fifth such tally in Wednesday's 4-1 victory. The 2-0 series lead is a familiar one for Pittsburgh, which also claimed that advantage last year before skating past San Jose in six games to capture its fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history.


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


    Stanley Cup Final Game 3 Betting Preview: Penguins at Predators
    The Penguins will look to take a commanding 3-0 series in Game 3 Saturday night, but they'll have to contend with a rowdy Nashville crowd as the Predators host their first Stanley Cup final game in franchise history.


    LINE HISTORY: The Predators may be down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup final, but they will enter game three as the betting favorites at the sportsbooks. The Preds opened at -140 on the moneyline and that number has come down slightly to -135. The total hit the betting board at 5.5. Check out the complete line history here.


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


    Murray - GP: 7, W/L: 5-1, 1.54 GAA, .943 SAVE %, 1 SO
    Rinne - GP: 18, W/L: 12-6, 1.98 GAA, .929 SAVE %, 2 SO


    INJURY REPORT:


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


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

    ABOUT THE PENGUINS (64-26-8-5, 56-40 O/U):
    While the 22-year-old Guentzel leads the league in goals (12), fellow forward Evgeni Malkin added to his advantage in points (26) by scoring a goal in his second straight contest Wednesday to send beleaguered Pekka Rinne to the showers. The 2012 Hart Trophy winner has recorded six points (three goals, three assists) in his past five games. Chris Kunitz is doing quite well in his own right by matching a career high with three straight multi-point performances in the playoffs, during which he has collected two goals and five assists.


    ABOUT THE PREDATORS (53-34-9-4, 45-43 O/U): Although coach Peter Laviolette "politely" reiterated Friday that he and his coaching staff do not publicly discuss lineup changes, Rinne likely will be in net for Game 3 despite being shredded for eight goals on 36 shots in the first two contests. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist has permitted just 13 tallies en route to winning seven of eight playoff games at Bridgestone Arena to go along with a 1.54 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. "It's going to be a tremendous lift," Laviolette said of playing at home. "I think the playoffs, everything ratchets up and becomes even better, a more explosive environment."


    TRENDS:


    * Penguins are 8-2 in their last 10 Stanley Cup Final games.
    * Predators are 0-5 in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference.
    * Under is 9-2 in Penguins last 11 Stanley Cup Final games.
    * Under is 7-1-3 in Predators last 11 home games.
    * Penguins are 10-2 in the last 12 meetings.


    CONSENSUS: 64 percent of users are siding with the home favorite Predators and 55 percent of the totals wagers are on the Under.
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    NHL
    Long Sheet


    Saturday, June 3



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


    PITTSBURGH (64-26-0-13, 141 pts.) at NASHVILLE (53-34-0-13, 119 pts.) - 6/3/2017, 8:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    PITTSBURGH is 6-2 (+3.5 Units) against the spread versus NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
    PITTSBURGH is 6-2-0 straight up against NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
    4 of 8 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+0.0 Units)

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







    NHL
    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Saturday, June 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








    NHL


    Saturday, June 3



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


    8:00 PM
    PITTSBURGH vs. NASHVILLE
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 5 games when playing Nashville
    Pittsburgh is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Nashville
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Nashville's last 5 games when playing Pittsburgh
    Nashville is 12-6 SU in its last 18 games
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    SATURDAY, JUNE 3


    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS


    PIT at NAS 08:00 PM

    O 5.5
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    Preds rout Pens 5-1, pull within 2-1 in Stanley Cup Final
    June 3, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Predators coach Peter Laviolette heard all the questions and criticism of Pekka Rinne after the goaltender's struggles in the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh.


    Well, Laviolette never thought of switching goalies.


    A change of scenery helped Rinne and all his Nashville teammates as they dominated once again on their own ice for the biggest piece of franchise history yet.


    A victory in the Stanley Cup Final.


    Roman Josi and Frederick Gaudreau scored 42 seconds apart in the second period, and the Predators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 Saturday night to pull within 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Rinne started and made 27 saves against a Pittsburgh team that continued to struggle on the power play and lacked the same zip they had in winning the first two games at home.


    ''There was no decision,'' Laviolette said of changing goalies. ''He was terrific. I said that after Game 2. He's been the backbone for our team. He's been excellent. His game tonight was rock solid.''


    The Predators capped the biggest party in Nashville history with a victory that gave thousands of fans inside and outside of the arena reason to celebrate. Country star Keith Urban and wife, actress Nicole Kidman, were high-fiving inside the arena and they had plenty of company. Credit Rinne for coming through with a stingy performance and helping the Predators improve to 8-1 at home this postseason.


    The 6-foot-5 Finn looked so shaky in the first two games, giving up eight goals on just 36 shots. Laviolette benched him in the third period of Game 2 when Rinne gave up three goals in the first 3:28 of a 4-1 loss.


    Rinne said he changed nothing and knew he was playing all the time. Nashville fans did their best to lift his spirits by chanting his name in pre-game warm-ups.


    ''Collectively we came into the locker room, and we were telling each other we've never seen anything like that,'' Rinne said.


    Josi also had two assists. James Neal, Craig Smith and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville as the Predators worked out some frustration against the Pens.


    ''Like our team has done the whole playoffs against Chicago, St. Louis, Anaheim, we showed really good composure,'' said Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban, who had predicted a win in Game 3. ''We're going to take that into the next game.''


    Game 4 is Monday night.


    Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said he thought his Penguins gave up a couple of easy goals.


    ''We're disappointed we didn't get the result, but we also understand that this is a series,'' Sullivan said. ''Our guys, they've been through this. They can draw on their experience. We're not going to let this certainly get us down. We're going to learn from it, move by it and get ready for the next game.''


    Captain Sidney Crosby did not have a shot on goal, and neither did Evgeni Malkin.


    ''Hopefully a game like this is something that's a hard lesson,'' Crosby said. ''But we've got to make sure we're better.''


    Jake Guentzel scored his 13th goal this postseason and fourth of this series for Pittsburgh and now is one off Dino Ciccarelli's rookie record of 14 in 1981 for Minnesota. Guentzel, already with two game-winning goals in the series, put the Penguins up 1-0 on their second shot with a wrister off a rebound of Ian Cole that beat Rinne just 2:46 into the game.


    Rinne stopped the next 26 shots for the victory and the party continued into the night.


    Early on, Matt Murray extended his scoreless streak to 72:54 with the Pittsburgh goalie looking ready to notch his 21st playoff win. Then he gave up five goals in the span of 15 shots and the catfish watch was on.


    The Predators got it started with a three-goal flurry in the second.


    Josi scored his sixth goal off a slap shot at 5:51, tying it at 1-1 and finally giving nervous fans something to enjoy. Then Gaudreau, who scored his first career NHL goal in Game 1, scored 42 seconds later to put Nashville ahead with his wrister from the high slot, taking advantage of a screen by Penguins defenseman Ian Cole to beat Murray glove-side.


    Just after that go-ahead goal, the Penguins had a rush on Rinne, and the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist made back-to-back big saves. First, he stopped Phil Kessel's wrister from the right circle. The rebound bounced back into the slot, and Rinne made a save on Chris Kunitz with an assist from Subban sliding over to help.


    Neal made it 3-1 with 22.6 seconds left in the second, banking the puck off Murray's left arm for his first goal in the series and sixth of the playoffs. Smith's goal on a breakaway at 4:54 was his first of the playoffs, and Ekholm padded the lead with a power-play goal with 6:50 left.


    ''We played some good hockey in those first two games, just a couple little breakdowns and they jumped all over us and it was in the back of the net,'' Neal said. ''It was a good job of limiting that tonight.''


    As for Rinne, Neal added: ''We felt we left him out to dry a few times in the last game. I thought we did a better job tonight.''


    Notes: Smith is the 18th different Nashville player to score a goal this postseason, and Ekholm became the 19th. ... The Penguins went 0 of 3 on the power play and now are 1 of 13 in this series. ... With an assist, Crosby now has 160 career playoff points (56 goals, 104 assists) and tied Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe, Bobby Smith and Al MacInnis for 20th all-time. ... Laviolette sat veterans Cody McLeod and Vern Fiddler to get more speed with Harry Zolnierczyk and P.A. Parenteau. ... Pittsburgh forward Carl Hagelin played for the first time with center Nick Bonino out after taking a Subban slap shot off his left foot in Game 2 that left him on crutches and in a walking boot.
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    Nashville helps Preds' celebrate history with 1st Cup Final
    June 3, 2017

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The town known as Music City sure knows how to throw a party. Police estimated more than 50,000 turned out to mark a bit of history Saturday night as Nashville hosted the first Stanley Cup Final game ever played in Tennessee.


    Fans started pouring into downtown hours before face-off, often shoulder to shoulder, eager to celebrate and do their part to back their beloved team in the best-of-seven series against Pittsburgh.


    Someone couldn't wait for Martina McBride to become the latest country star to sing the national anthem before tossing the first catfish onto the ice during warm-ups. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury swept the fish toward the bench with his stick, the first of three catfish tossed before the game started.


    Another fan held up a giant stuffed catfish to the delight of the crowd. Hank Williams Jr. waved a towel to rev up fans who had been waiting to yell all day.


    By the time the Predators finished off a 5-1 win over the Penguins, a total of five catfish hit the ice to finish off the day in style.


    ''Coming back home was awesome,'' Predators forward Craig Smith said. ''You could see the crowds outside and how excited people are to be here and excited for the city. It's been a pleasure.''


    Nashville has hosted country music award shows, festivals and concerts for decades. The vaunted Ryman Auditorium - known as the Mother Church of country music - had Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the Indigo Girls in concert Saturday night. The Ascend Amphitheater five blocks from the Predators' arena had Muse in concert, too.


    Alan Jackson, a recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, wore a Predators' T-shirt during his free concert on Broadway where city officials also had TV screens set up for an outdoor viewing party of the game. The park across the street from the arena is blocked off as Nashville prepares to host the CMA Music Festival in a few days.


    The Predators have tapped a star to sing the national anthem before each playoff game, starting with Carrie Underwood, wife of captain Mike Fisher, to Luke Brian, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood. PGA golfer Brandt Snedeker and NFL Tennessee Titans' quarterback Marcus Mariota has helped wave the rally towel, further upping the celebrity factor. Underwood watched from a box seat.


    Before the game, former Jets and Bills coach Rex Ryan smashed a car painted up in Penguins' colors before the game with his brother, Rob, watching in front of the arena.


    Josh Dodson and Alicia Lopez have been Nashville Predators since getting hooked a couple years ago. So they couldn't miss this even if that meant a three-hour drive over from Knoxville with no chance of getting a ticket to watch the game inside the arena Saturday. The size of the crowd outside turned out to be much bigger than expected.


    ''We knew it would be a big turnout because even coming to the regular season games, it's always wild,'' Dodson said. ''It's packed all the way down the street into the arena.''


    People coming downtown also had to fight against fans of the ''Walking Dead'' TV show with a Walker Stalker fan event being held across the street.


    The franchise is in its 19th year and history was made Saturday night, win or lose.


    ''It's unbelievable the support the city, everything that's going on,'' Fisher said. ''As a player, it's one of the most proud things I am to be a part of this organization and see it grow like this, a hockey market where it's become the loudest building in the NHL.''
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    Penguins lose special teams battle, game to Nashville
    June 4, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Pittsburgh Penguins are still leading the Stanley Cup Final, no thanks to their scuffling power play.


    The Penguins went 0-3 with the man advantage in losing Game 3 in Nashville, 5-1. The Predators scored on two of their three power play opportunities.


    Coming up empty in six minutes of power play time was tough, but the Penguins only recorded one shot on Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne during that time.


    ''The power play didn't get enough zone time,'' Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. ''To give them the opportunity on the power play, my feeling or at least my observation coaching these guys, is when they have success on the power play, it helps their overall game, their 5-on-5 game as well. I think it gives them confidence. They feel the puck and we haven't had the success that we would like here in this early part of the series. We've certainly got to figure this out as a group and I believe we will.''


    Pittsburgh is a woeful 1 for 13 on the power play in the series, with just four total shots on goal. Nashville is 4 of 10 and the Predators used the power play to climb within 2-1 in the Final ahead of Game 4 on Monday night.


    ''They pressure really hard and we tried to make plays through them,'' the Penguins' Patric Hornqvist said. ''We have to spread it out a little bit longer. We have to wait for opportunity. We can't force any plays and that's what we did there on all our power plays.''


    Forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin led Pittsburgh forwards in power play time in Game 3 with 4 minutes and 3:46, respectively. Neither player generated a shot on goal on the power play - or at any other time in the game either.


    ''Those are important guys for us,'' Sullivan said. ''We want them to get pucks on the net because they have the ability to score.''


    After taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, Pittsburgh fell behind 2-1 after Roman Josi and Frederick Gaudreau beat Matt Murray 42 seconds apart early in the second. Josi's goal came on the power play.


    ''They got some momentum when they got that power-play goal,'' Crosby said. ''You don't want to give up two quick goals like that. They get one on the power play, but to follow it up with another one and then you don't want to give one up late in the period. Kind of a couple of plays there that really gave them momentum and our own power play needs to be better too. We had opportunities to kind of build on that lead and we didn't.''


    Mattias Ekholm concluded the scoring at 13:10 of the third with Nashville's second power-play goal of the game.


    The Penguins allowed just two power-play shots on Murray in 4:05 during the game - and both ended up in the back of the net.
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    Sunday’s six-pack


    Over/under win totals for college football teams this fall:


    — Purdue 2.5, over -$125


    — Notre Dame 7.5, under -$120


    — Oregon 7.5, over -$125


    — Penn State, 10


    — Rice 3.5, over -$120


    — Ohio State 10.5, over -$120


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


    Sunday’s List of 13: Random thoughts on a spring Sunday……


    13) Edinson Volquez was in a nasty-looking collision while covering first base in the first inning Saturday- it was the first batter of the game. Who knew he would go on to no-hit Arizona, in a very gutty performance- he walked only two batters in a 3-0 Miami win. Impressive.


    Volquez threw 98 pitches, the first no-hitter with less than 100 pitches since Philip Humber’s perfect game five years ago.


    12) Scalpers in Nashville were charging very high prices for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, the first NHL finals game in Predators’ history; as of 2pm Saturday, cheapest seat in the sold-out house was being scalped for $1,200.


    11) Phil Mickelson is skipping the US Open to attend his daughter’s high school graduation. His daughter is giving the commencement address at her graduation— she is going to college at Brown University in the fall, which is a long way from her San Diego home.


    10) Wish they’d put the World Series of Poker back on ESPN; the events have started out in Las Vegas already— watching poker was lot better than most of the drivel ESPN has on now during late night and daytime hours.


    9) There is actually a movie called I Spit on Your Grave, which must’ve done well at the box office, since they’ve made two sequels. Think I’ll pass on all three of them.


    8) Aaron Rodgers’ last 18 games against the Vikings: (12-6 W-L record); he’s thrown 40 TD’s with only six INT’s.


    7) Good news for people who watch baseball on the dish; Hawk Harrelson is retiring— he will work White Sox games on Sunday next year, but otherwise, Jason Benetti will be the voice of the White Sox, which is great news, because Benetti is really good and Harrelson isn’t— he is the old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn.


    I liked The Hawk when he worked Red Sox games on WSBK in the late 70’s/early 80’s, but now he crabs about the umpires and yearns for the good ol’ days way too much.


    6) Last year in the NFL, Bucs’ WR Mike Evans was targeted 39 times on passes of 20+ yards, most in the league. Next-highest were TY Hilton (33) and Terrell Pryor (32).


    5) If you pinch-run in a game, it doesn’t count as a game played, unless you stay in the game. So if Cal Ripken had just pinch-run in a game during his great streak, it would’ve ended the streak. If you pinch-hit, the streak is extended, but not if you pinch-run.


    4) Albert Pujols made his 600th home run a big one– he hit a grand slam in the 4th inning Saturday night, giving the Angels a 7-1 lead.


    Pujols is just the 9th big leaguer to hit 600 home runs.


    A 30-ish fan in LF bleachers caught Pujols’ grand slam; they put him on TV for half an inning, but the guy seemed like he was hyperventilating he was so excited- he didn’t have a lot to say. Wonder if he was thinking about what he was going to ask Pujols for, in exchange for the 600th home run baseball.


    Two innings later, Angels unveiled the Pujols 600th home run bobblehead they’re giving away on July 1st. I’d ask for one of those, for a start.


    3) Garrett Cole is the Pirates’ best pitcher; they’re 6-6 in his starts this year, but a closer look shows that if you bet the Pirates in a “first 5 innings” bet in his starts, you’d be 1-9-2- they’ve led only one of his 12 starts after five innings. Was very surprised to see that.


    2) Red Sox entered Saturday hitting .213 as a team when they have two strikes on them; that is the best two-strike batting average of any major league team. Important for pitchers to get ahead in the count.


    1) Friday afternoon, former big leaguer Luis Gonzalez helped pull a woman from a car that was in an accident and was next to another car that was in flames. Good for him.


    Gonzalez got the game-winning hit in the clinching game of the 2001 World Series for the Diamondbacks.
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    Date W-L-T % Units Record


    06/03/2017................... 1 - 0 - 0................... 100.00%................ +5.00


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


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


    Totals............................2 - 3 - 0....................40.00%...................- 5.50
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    Monday’s six-pack


    Some more season win total over/unders for college football teams:


    — Maryland 3, over -$120


    — Memphis 8.5, under -$120


    — Middle Tennessee 7.5, under -$120


    — Ole Miss 5.5


    — Navy 7, under -$125


    — Nebraska 7, under -$120


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

    Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports weekend…….



    13) Rockies-Padres game Sunday afternoon; FOX/San Diego had hot dog eating champ Joey Chestnut in the booth for a half-inning with Don Orsillo/Mark Grant, which was an invitation for high comedy. They asked the hot dog champ about wolfing down buns soaked in water, they asked about his cholesterol and his general health. It was actually interesting.


    12) Speaking of the Padres, they’ve scored at least one run in the first inning in 7 of their last 14 road games, but haven’t scored a first inning run in their last 18 home games.


    11) You watch these college baseball national tournament games, and you see pitchers throw too many pitches and you wonder how closely big league teams monitor all this when it comes to who they do or do not draft on June 12. Some teams prefer drafting high school pitchers because it simply takes that out of the equation— it also generally takes high school kids longer to get to the big leagues than college kids, because obviously, they’re younger.


    10) University of Houston hosted a regional this weekend; their pitchers’ mound is jet black, very distinctive in appearance. Almost looks like blacktop on a playground.


    9) By the way, in college baseball they throw the four pitches for an intentional walk. Far as I know, in high school ball where I live here in upstate NY, they haven’t had to throw the four pitches on an intentional walk for a long time.


    8) Cincinnati Reds homered in their last 15 games, their longest such streak since May, 2010.


    7) Nevada sportsbooks made a $10.5M profit booking baseball games in April, their 2nd-best baseball month ever— none of it was mine!!!


    6) Miami Marlins have never had a player hit for the cycle; San Diego Padres have never had a pitcher throw a no-hitter, but back in the day, Padres had a pitcher named Clay Kirby who had a no-hitter thru eight innings, but he had given up a run and with San Diego trailing 1-0, they hit for Kirby in the bottom of the 8th inning. The reliever gave up a hit in the ninth inning.


    5) Speaking of the Marlins, Edinson Volquez’ no-hitter Saturday was the first complete game for Miami in 480 games, dating back to June 3, 2014.


    4) Justin Verlander left Sunday’s start in the third inning with a tight groin muscle. Detroit won the game on a Justin Upton walk-off homer.


    3) Mets lost the series finale in their last nine home series.


    2) Warriors 132, Cavaliers 113— Golden State is 14-0 in playoffs; the NBA has a problem on its hands, because these games are unwatchable. Washington Generals give the Globetrotters better competition. Cleveland was +11 in turnovers in this game and still lost by 19.


    1) QB Malik Zaire transfers from Notre Dame to Florida; as a grad transfer, he is eligible to play immediately, but having missed spring practice, doubtful he would start right away.
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    NHL playoffs
    Game 4



    Home team won first three Finals games; Penguins are 10-3 in last 13 games with Nashville- five of last six series games went over. Predators won five of its last six home games; under is 7-4-2 in their last 13 games, 3-2-1 in last six at home. Pittsburgh is 2-4 in its last six road games, scoring total of 10 goals. Under is 4-4-2 in their last ten 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


    Nash 5-1, -$150, O5.5
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    Preview: Penguins (50-21) at Predators (41-29)
    Date: June 05, 2017 8:00 PM EDT


    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan maintained a calm veneer as he answered the question, but there was an edge inside his words Saturday night when asked about being outplayed for most of the first three games of the Stanley Cup Finals by the Nashville Predators.


    "We've been outplayed in stretches, you know," he said. "But I don't think anyone should discount the goals we've scored, the counterattack game that we have."


    That counterattack game wasn't quite as effective Saturday night, though, as Nashville fed off its raucous crowd in Bridgestone Arena for a 5-1 win that cut its series deficit to 2-1. Five different Predators scored goals and Pekka Rinne made 27 saves in his first win over Pittsburgh.


    Worse yet from a Penguins perspective, they got no shots on goal from either of their star centers -- Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. It's believed to be the first playoff game during the duo's careers that neither one got a shot to net.


    If Pittsburgh is to become the first road team to win in the Cup Finals in Game 4 on Monday night, it can't have another zero-shot game from its cornerstone players.


    "I thought they had some looks," Sullivan said. "They had some attempts. They didn't hit the net, obviously. Those are important guys for us. We want them to get pucks on the net because they obviously have the ability to score."


    Sullivan said one way to get Crosby and Malkin going is to start doing more with the power play. It was powerless in Game 3, failing in three chances. At times, it appeared Nashville had more zone time and chances while short-handed.


    The Predators were certainly the better team in even-strength play, as has been the case for most of the series. When they finally stayed out of the penalty box during most of the last two periods of Game 3 and buried their chances, they scored three times in the second period and twice more in the third.


    Nashville also got the benefit of puck luck that worked for the Penguins in the first two games. Roman Josi's tying goal in the second period hit Carter Rowney's stick before beating Matt Murray. James Neal's goal late in the second period caromed off Murray's left ankle from a bad angle.


    "I don't want to blame the first two losses on puck luck," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said, "but it didn't bounce our way all the time. Today it bounced our way a little more. We found looks we liked. Just a good game offensively."


    One of those looks was Frederick Gaudreau's second goal of the Finals, 42 seconds after Josi's equalizer. Gaudreau, who landed a spot in the lineup after Ryan Johansen (thigh) was declared out of the playoffs during the Western Conference Finals, didn't score in nine regular-season games.


    But Gaudreau has displayed the scoring touch of his namesake in Calgary, Johnny, during the Finals. His one-timer in the third period tied Game 1 and his wrister to Murray's glove side unlocked a tie for good Saturday night.


    "We saw that he had great skill," Neal said. "I think he's surprising everybody how good he is. He's calm and collected."


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



    SERIES AT A GLANCE



    GAME 1
    Predators at Penguins
    Mon, May 29 Final 3 to 5
    Recaps


    GAME 2
    Predators at Penguins
    Wed, May 31 Final 1 to 4
    Recaps


    GAME 3
    Penguins at Predators
    Sat, Jun 3 Final 1 to 5
    Recaps


    GAME 4
    Penguins at Predators
    Mon, Jun 5 - 8:00PM EDT


    GAME 5
    Predators at Penguins
    Thu, Jun 8 - 8:00PM EDT


    GAME 6
    Penguins at Predators
    Sun, Jun 11 - 8:00PM EDT


    GAME 7
    Predators at Penguins
    Wed, Jun 14 - 8:00PM EDT
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  17. #67  
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    Monday's NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Betting Preview: Penguins at Predators


    Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators (-155, 5.5)


    Pens lead series 2-1


    Music City has provided quite the festive backdrop throughout the NHL's postseason, with the Nashville Predators giving their enthusiastic fans even more reason to party with an impressive 8-1 home record. Fueled by a resounding victory in the first Stanley Cup Final game played in The Volunteer State, the Predators look to even the series with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday when the teams reconvene for Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena.


    "You know what, best atmosphere I've ever played in," defenseman P.K. Subban said after his team made good on his vow for a Game 3 victory with five unanswered goals in a 5-1 triumph on Saturday. "It was pretty spectacular. Anybody who paid the price of admission to watch the game, I'm sure it was money well spent for them." Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel continues to pay dividends with a league-best 13 goals in the playoffs and four in the series, with the first statistic putting him within one of tying a single-year NHL rookie record (Minnesota's Dino Ciccarelli in 1981) while the latter has him one shy of the rookie mark for the Stanley Cup Final (Boston's Roy Conacher in 1939, Brad Marchand in 2011). Former Hart Trophy winners Evgeni Malkin (NHL-best 26 points) and captain Sidney Crosby (23 points) weren't as fortunate as they were each were held without a shot for the first time in their 143 playoff games together.


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


    LINE HISTORY: The Predators opened as -145 home favorites and following the impressive performance on the ice (and by their fans) on Saturday night, bettors pushed the moneyline up to -155. The total hit the betting board at 5.5.


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


    Murray - GP: 8, W/L: 5-2, 1.96 GAA, .930 SAVE %, 1 SO
    Rinne - GP: 19, W/L: 13-6, 1.93 GAA, .931 SAVE %, 2 SO


    INJURY REPORT:


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


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


    ABOUT THE PENGUINS (64-27-8-5, 57-40 O/U): For all of his success, Crosby has failed to score a goal in 12 consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearances and has just one tally in his last 19 Final games. The 29-year-old, at least, contributed 15 of 26 faceoff wins in Game 3, while Malkin lost seven of nine in the circle. "I thought they had some looks," coach Mike Sullivan said of the superstar duo's difficult night. "They had some attempts. They didn't hit the net, obviously. Those are important guys for us. We want them to get pucks on the net because they obviously have the ability to score."

    ABOUT THE PREDATORS (54-34-9-4, 46-43 O/U):
    While Subban mouthed the words for a guarantee, fellow defenseman Roman Josi went the extra mile to make sure it paid out as he scored a goal and set up two others in the second period. "Well, I think it's part of our system (which) allows us defensemen to jump up in the play," said Josi, whose six goals lead all blue-liners while his 14 points are second-best at the position (Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, 18) and just above fellow Nashville defensemen Ryan Ellis (12), Subban (11) and Mattias Ekholm (10). "Yeah, (coach Peter Laviolette) wants us to jump up and make something happen in the offensive zone, too."

    TRENDS:



    * Penguins are 8-3 in their last 11 Stanley Cup Finals games.
    * Predators are 1-5 in their last 6 vs. Eastern Conference.
    * Over is 8-2 in Penguins last 10 Monday games.
    * Over is 3-0-2 in Predators last 5 games following a win.
    * Home team is 6-0 in the last 6 meetings.


    CONSENSUS: 61 percent of users are siding with the home favorite Predators and 52 percent of the totals wagers are on the Under.
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  18. #68  
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    NHL
    Dunkel


    Monday, June 5




    Pittsburgh @ Nashville


    Game 7-8
    June 5, 2017 @ 8:00 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Pittsburgh
    10.668
    Nashville
    13.121
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Nashville
    by 2 1/2
    6
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Nashville
    -150
    5 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Nashville
    (-150); Over









    NHL
    Long Sheet


    Monday, June 5



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


    PITTSBURGH (64-27-0-13, 141 pts.) at NASHVILLE (54-34-0-13, 121 pts.) - 6/5/2017, 8:00 PM
    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    PITTSBURGH is 6-3 (+2.5 Units) against the spread versus NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
    PITTSBURGH is 6-3-0 straight up against NASHVILLE over the last 3 seasons
    5 of 9 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Over=+1.2 Units)

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







    NHL
    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Monday, June 5



    Home team won first three Finals games; Penguins are 10-3 in last 13 games with Nashville- five of last six series games went over. Predators won five of its last six home games; under is 7-4-2 in their last 13 games, 3-2-1 in last six at home. Pittsburgh is 2-4 in its last six road games, scoring total of 10 goals. Under is 4-4-2 in their last ten 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
    Nash 5-1, -$150, O5.5








    NHL


    Monday, June 5



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


    8:00 PM
    PITTSBURGH vs. NASHVILLE
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Pittsburgh's last 6 games when playing Nashville
    Pittsburgh is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games when playing Nashville
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Nashville's last 6 games when playing Pittsburgh
    Nashville is 13-6 SU in its last 19 games
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    MONDAY, JUNE 5


    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS


    PIT at NAS 08:00 PM

    PIT +125


    O 5.5
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    Monday's Best Bet
    June 5, 2017



    NHL Stanley Cup Finals Best Bet
    Pittsburgh vs. Nashville – Game 4


    Sportsbook.ag Odds: Pittsburgh (+130), Nashville (-150); Total set at 5.5


    The Nashville Predators continued their dominant ways in Game 3, but this time they were finally rewarded for all that great play with a 5-1 win. The victory put Nashville right back in this series, but the work is far from done.


    The Preds still have to take care of business at home again tonight to get this Stanley Cup Finals back on level ground, and you know the atmosphere in “Smashville” will be off the charts again tonight. But will the dominant play continue for Nashville, or will Pittsburgh finally step up and try to take full control of this series?


    Odds per - Sportsbook.ag


    Best Bet: Pittsburgh Penguins ML (-+130)



    Although it was another ominous start by the Predators in Game 3, they were unrelenting with their push and aggressiveness and came out on top as expected. That win with my best bet selection made it a perfect 3-0 with these free selections for the Stanley Cup Final and hopefully that run continues tonight with this flip-flop play on Pittsburgh.


    I'm not a big believer in the well-known flip-flop theory that many bettors like to employ during the playoffs, but tonight's Game 4 is a solid situation for the Penguins to bounce back and finally play a good game in this series.


    For one, we've got decent value on the Penguins at +130 as the defending champs have to show their true colors soon. Having a better idea of just how loud and hostile playing in Nashville can be should have the Penguins more prepared for what to expect tonight, and if that's the case we aren't likely to see Pittsburgh fall victim to an ambush like the two goals Nashville scored in under a minute in Game 3 to tie and take the lead.


    Crosby and Malkin aren't going to be held without a shot again this evening, and the avalanche of pressure Nashville threw at them in the second and third periods isn't going to be nearly as severe. Getting the defending champs who have been here before – they were up 2-0 and then 2-1 last year vs. San Jose before winning Game 4 – at +130 is arguably too good to pass up.


    Retractors of that line of thought will continually point to the fact that Nashville has dominated the bulk of play for the majority of this series, and now that the Predators finally broke through the floodgates are open. However, I wouldn't be so sure about that thought as it's going to be nearly impossible for the Predators to match the level of energy and play they brought to Pittsburgh in Game 3.


    The extreme feeling of desperation from the Preds as dissolved a bit now that it's only a 2-1 series lead, and G Pekka Rinne has still just had one good game in this series. It's funny how so many mainstream stories about Rinne are quick to write off his Game 1 and 2 performances as the abnormalities after Game 3, when in reality his strong play this entire playoffs has been the abnormality when you look at Rinne's career as a whole.


    Soft goals, bad goals, and inconsistent play have plagued the big netminder throughout his time with Nashville, and while he should be good tonight being at home, being quick to forget about those struggles against Pittsburgh in this series won't do you any favors.


    So with a solid underdog price on Pittsburgh in a game and situation they'll be better prepared for, expect the Penguins to put up a much better fight for the full 60 minutes tonight and come away with the win. Given how they've been outplayed so far in this series, even with home ice advantage they don't want to have to rely on winning four games at home in this series.


    A victory tonight alleviates those pressures as the Penguins push the Predators to the brink of elimination this evening.
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    Pens C Nick Bonino tests injured foot
    June 4, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) P.K. Subban says ask the Pittsburgh Penguins if he's getting under their skin. The All-Star defenseman only knows he apparently needs to work on his breath on the ice and loves the challenge of helping shut down Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.


    And he loves gamesmanship.


    Crosby isn't in the mood to play if it doesn't involve his stick and a puck. No, the Pittsburgh captain insists he did not complain about Subban's breath in Game 3, saying Subban made that up.


    ''He likes the attention and things like that so I mean if he wants to make stuff up, ... what can I do?'' Crosby said Sunday.


    The Stanley Cup Final has some bad blood brewing, and the best-of-seven series for the NHL championship has the makings of becoming a battle royale. The defending champs a chance for a sweep Saturday night when the Predators scored five straight goals in a 5-1 rout of the Pens, winning the first Cup Final game in the state of Tennessee.


    Now the Predators want to tie it in Game 4 on Monday night. They are 8-1 at home this postseason, and Subban made it clear he expects Nashville fans to find a way to crank the volume up even higher Monday night.


    ''I know there'll be a lot more energy if you can imagine that ... which will be pretty awesome,'' Subban said.


    The Penguins have bigger issues than talk of bad breath, and their frustration bubbled over late Saturday night as they racked up 10 penalties for 44 minutes night. That included Chris Kunitz, Patric Hornqvist and Matt Cullen each getting a 10-minute misconduct all in the final five minutes of the loss.


    Crosby has yet to score a goal in this series, and both he and Evgeni Malkin were held without a shot Saturday night in the same game for the first time in their star-studded careers.


    It's the fifth time Crosby, with 160 career playoff points and 23 points this postseason, had been held without a shot and third this spring. It was the eighth time Malkin, with his NHL-best 26 points this postseason, was held without a shot. Malkin hasn't gone two games without a shot in the same postseason since his rookie year, while Washington did it to Crosby April 29 and May 1.


    ''We had chances,'' Crosby said. ''We just got to hit the net. They blocked some. I think it's just a matter of winning those battles too and finding ways to get to the net. You got to hit the net, so let's start there.''


    Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said Crosby and Malkin simply command a lot of attention, and he doesn't want to interfere with their instincts on when to pass or shoot. Sullivan did see chances for both to throw the puck at the net.


    ''Their numbers speak for themselves,'' Sullivan said. ''They've produced consistently for this team all year long and throughout the course of these playoffs. There's no doubt that we believe they will continue that.''


    The Predators have outshot the Penguins in each game so far with Pittsburgh taking a 2-0 series lead with quick scoring bursts.


    They've also smothered the NHL's best scoring team even when the Pens have the man advantage, allowing just four shots in 13 penalties killed. Pittsburgh has just one power-play goal and was 0 of 3 with the man advantage in Game 4, and Malkin said he has not had room to work.


    ''I have puck like one second, they jump to me,'' Malkin said.


    The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Penguins, but they are 13-2 in the playoffs coming off a loss under Sullivan. Goalie Matt Murray, who allowed five goals in the span of 15 shots, also has never lost when starting a game either after a Pittsburgh loss (9-0) or a playoff loss of his own (7-0).


    They also might get center Nick Bonino back. He tested his injured left foot and ankle by skating Sunday but said he remains day to day.


    Subban relishes playing against the man he calls the world's best player in Crosby, and he also has plenty of help from fellow defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.


    ''It's our defense that's going to win us games,'' Subban said. ''We know that, and we're going to have to continue to be strong defensively to have success against this hockey club.''
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    Crosby scores, Malkin shoots yet Penguins lose 4-1 to Preds
    June 5, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Pittsburgh Penguins needed more from their stars. They got more, just not nearly enough against Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators.


    Sidney Crosby scored his first goal in this Stanley Cup Final, but the Predators beat Pittsburgh 4-1 on Monday night to even the best-of-seven series at 2-2.


    Both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held without a shot in Game 3 - the first time that's happened to the duo in the same playoff game and for just just the fifth time in Crosby's postseason career. He got the Penguins on the scoreboard late in the first, converting on a breakaway to even the score at 1 after banking the puck off of the right post and by Rinne.


    The goal was Crosby's first goal in the Final since June 4, 2009, a span of 12 goalless games for the Pittsburgh captain. It was one of four shots on goal for Crosby in the game.


    Rinne denied chance after chance after Crosby's goal, many of them saves that the 6-foot-5 Finn struggled to make in Games 1 and 2 in Pittsburgh.


    ''You've got trust what gets you here,'' Crosby said. ''You've got to trust all those habits, all those things that you preach all year, come through when you need them most. We've shown that's how we are going to score goals - getting pucks and people there. We did a good job of that tonight. On the other side of things, we've got to make sure that we limit their chances, don't give up breakaways or chances where they can make us pay the other way.''


    The seven-game series is now a best of three. Game 5 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh.


    ''Obviously, it's hard to win when you score one goal, but having said that, I thought tonight of all the games we played, we generated the most chances and the highest quality,'' Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. ''It didn't go in the net for us. We had a number of grade-A opportunities, a couple of breakaways, flurries around the net, so there were a lot of things from a process standpoint that we really liked.''


    Rinne's most timely save may have been his stop on Chris Kunitz's breakaway at 3:29 of the second. The score was tied at 1 at the time, and Nashville rookie Frederick Gaudreau scored Nashville's second of the game 16 seconds later on a wraparound that was not initially called a goal on the ice.


    As play continued after Matt Murray appeared to make a stick save on Gaudreau, the arena horn sounded alerting on-ice officials to stop play. A quick video review confirmed that the puck did cross the line.


    Murray, who entered the game 9-0 in the postseason following a Pittsburgh loss, also allowed a first period rebound goal by Calle Jarnkrok and a breakaway goal to Viktor Arvidsson in the third.


    Malkin finished with two shots as the Penguins ended up being outscored 9-2 in Nashville.


    Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh's leading postseason goal scorer with 13, had three shots on Rinne.


    ''He's a great goaltender, so he can make those kinds of saves,'' Guentzel said. ''But I've got to do a better job finding the back of the net.''


    Crosby said the next game is key.


    ''It's simple. We've got to go home and win a game,'' Crosby said. ''We can feed off the energy of our crowd and get a boost from that, but when you're getting into the later stages of the series this time of year, desperation level, motivation level, all of that will be there.''
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    Charles Barkley takes up Bettman's invitation to Cup Final
    June 5, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Charles Barkley has not been shy sharing that he is far more excited about the Stanley Cup playoffs than the NBA playoffs.


    Thanks to a night off in the NBA Finals , Barkley took up NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on his invitation to come watch the pucks in person.


    ''There's nothing more nerve-wracking than Stanley Cup overtime hockey,'' Barkley said. ''It's the craziest thing you're ever going to see, so that's one reason I just love the sport.''


    Barkley didn't get overtime on Monday night, but he did get to see the Predators win 4-1 at home in front of their raucous fans to even the series against Pittsburgh at 2-2.


    A few hours earlier, Barkley interrupted Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey talking about the 1984-85 Oilers being voted by NHL fans as the greatest team in league history. With Bettman watching from the side, Barkley broke in by asking Gretzky who his favorite black athlete of all-time was. Gretzky immediately answered Grant Fuhr, his goalie with the Oilers.


    The former NBA star said he's been following hockey since watching the World Hockey Association's Birmingham Bulls in Alabama. When he joined the Philadelphia 76ers, Ron Hextall became Barkley's favorite NHL player. Barkley also became friends with Eric Lindros of the Flyers, too.


    Barkley says Mike Wilbon has been taking him to the Stanley Cup Final with Chicago the past few years. But Jeremy Roenick, his neighbor in Arizona, has been urging Barkley to come to Nashville for a game and called the Music City scene ''the craziest thing'' he'd ever seen.


    With the NBA Finals switching from Golden State to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday night, Barkley had a free day. The Naismith Hall of Famer said he was looking forward to a little time in ''Smashville.''


    ''They say it's crazy, and the playoffs have been amazing,'' Barkley said. ''I'm not breaking earth-shattering news. The NBA playoffs have not been very good.''


    Barkley noted that while at work he's in a room with 20 TVs, so he has watched almost every hockey game this spring.


    ''I think we showed a stat we've only had four basketball games in the playoffs that were less than double digits,'' Barkley said. ''So it's not been a lot of fun broadcasting games this year.''
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    The Latest: Subban trolls Crosby, bringing bag of mouthwash
    June 5, 2017



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Latest on Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final (all times local):


    10:05 p.m.


    Pekka Rinne was spectacular, Frederick Gaudreau scored a tiebreaking goal early in the second period and the Nashville Predators handed Pittsburgh a 4-1 loss Monday night to even the Stanley Cup Final at two games apiece.


    The defending champion Penguins will host Game 5 on Thursday night, hoping home ice is an advantage after being outscored 9-2 in losing the two games in Nashville after averaging 4.5 goals in winning the first two.


    Nashville's Calle Jarnkrok was the first to get the puck past Matt Murray, scoring 5:09 into the first period. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby scored on a breakaway about a minute later. It was his first goal in the Final since 2009, but it wasn't nearly enough.


    Gaudreau's goal came on a wraparound, but the horn sounded a little later because of video review. The puck just crossed the goal line under Murray's outstretched stick before he shoved it out of the net.


    Viktor Arvidsson gave the Predators a 3-1 lead at the 13:08 mark of the second and they were able to hold onto the cushion against Crosby and Co. With 3:23 left, Nashville sealed the victory with Filip Forsberg's empty-net goal.


    ---


    9:45 p.m.


    The Nashville Predators are a hanging on to a two-goal lead against Pittsburgh late in in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, a few minutes away from evening the series at 2-2.


    All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban briefly left the ice after Evgeni Malkin's shot hit his left leg with 7:08 remaining. In obvious pain, Subban left the ice, but he returned.


    ---


    9:05 p.m.


    Viktor Arvidsson have given Nashville a two-goal lead over Pittsburgh after two periods in Game 4.


    He streaked in on a breakaway and beat Matt Murray on his glove side with a laser-like wrist shot.


    Arvidsson's third goal of the playoffs gave the Predators a 3-1 lead at the 13:08 mark, moving them a step closer toward evening the Stanley Cup Final at two games apiece.


    Arvidsson had not scored a goal since an empty netter in Game 4 against Chicago that finished a sweep of the Blackhawks. He got an assist from Mike Fisher, who pushed the puck ahead as he fell to the ice for his fourth point in the series and first on his 37th birthday.


    Nashville is outshooting Pittsburgh 15-14 so far. The Penguins are 0-6 when trailing after two periods this postseason


    ---


    8:35 p.m.


    Frederick Gaudreau has scored on a wraparound, giving the Nashville Predators a 2-1 lead early in the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.


    Gaudreau's goal didn't light the lamp right away and play resumed, but the horn sounded a little later because of video review. The puck just crossed the goal line under the outstretched sick of Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray before he shoved it away.


    The 24-year-old undrafted rookie, who didn't score in nine games during the regular season, has three goals in six playoff games.


    Moments later, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne stopped Sidney Crosby's backhander on a breakaway, then slid back to his right to stop Guentzel in a frantic scramble.


    ---


    8:25 p.m.


    Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin heard all the questions about not getting a shot on goal in Game 3.


    They've taken care of that in the first period of Game 4.


    Crosby and Malkin have a shot apiece, and Crosby tied it up at 1-1 with his first goal this series at 15:57. His goal came 66 seconds after Calle Jarnkrok gave Nashville a 1-0 lead.


    It was Crosby's first goal in the Final since June 4, 2009, in Game 4 against Detroit - a span of 12 straight games. Pittsburgh leads Nashville 7-6 in total shots in what was a tight first period.


    Crosby has now passed Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe, Al MacInnis and Bobby Smith for 20th in all-time playoff points. He has 57 goals and 104 assists, for a total of 161 points.


    ---


    8:05 p.m.


    Calle Jarnkrok scored with 5:09 left in the first period, putting the Nashville Predators ahead 1-0 against Pittsburgh.


    The lead didn't last long.


    The Penguins pulled into a tie a little more than a minute later when Sidney Crosby scored on a breakaway, making it 1-all late in the opening period.


    Jarnkrok's goal stood after the Penguins challenged that goaltender interference should have negated the score.


    No one challenged Crosby's goal, which came on a backhander after faking a slap shot. It was Crosby's first goal of the series.


    ---


    7:40 p.m.


    A fan in Nashville added some flair to the tradition of throwing catfish on the ice, sending one over the glass with a bedazzled top hat and a toy penguin in its mouth Monday night.


    A second catfish also hit the ice before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Predators.


    Apparently, the fans didn't get the message from coach Peter Laviolette. He asked them before the game not to throw anything onto the ice.


    ---


    6:50 p.m.


    Nick Bonino sure tried to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. His injured left foot is keeping him out of a second straight game.


    The Pittsburgh Penguins' center skated briefly with his teammates before Game 4 in warm-ups. But he banged the boards in apparent frustration and limped toward the locker room He was announced as a scratch from the lineup.


    Bonino's left foot took the brunt force of a slap shot from Nashville's P.K. Subban during Game 2 in Pittsburgh and didn't play in Game 3.


    His absence leaves the Penguins without a veteran penalty killer. Nashville was 2 of 3 on the power play in Game 3.


    ---


    6:40 p.m.


    The Great One would've picked a different one.


    In a poll of fans, the 1984-85 Edmonton were chosen as the NHL's greatest team of all time.


    ''I would've voted for our '87 team,'' Wayne Gretzky said.


    The NHL says 3.6-plus million votes over a six-week stretch led to the choice of the Gretzky-led, Stanley Cup winning team that won its second straight title in 1985.


    The other teams in the top 10 were the 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins, 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, 1987-88 Oilers, 1986-87 Oilers, 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings, 1982-83 New York Islanders, 1977-78 Canadiens, 1983-84 Oilers and 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings.


    ---


    5:50 p.m.


    Charles Barkley has taken advantage of a day off in the NBA Finals and accepted NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's invitation to come watch the Stanley Cup Final in person.


    Barkley interrupted Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey talking about NHL fans voting for the best team of all-time.


    The former NBA star and now TV analyst says he had nothing to do and is really looking forward to the game. Barkley says the NHL playoffs have been amazing while noting the NBA playoffs have not been very good this spring.


    Barkley says he's been watching hockey for years dating back to a team in Birmingham, Alabama, and Ron Hextall is his favorite NHL player of all-time after watching him in Philadelphia. Today, he roots for Columbus defenseman Seth Jones because his father, Popeye, once played in the NBA.


    And he calls Stanley Cup overtime hockey the craziest thing anyone will ever see, just one reason why he loves the sport.


    ---


    5:22 p.m.


    P.K. Subban seems as if he's still trying to get under Sidney Crosby's skin.


    Nashville's All-Star defenseman was seen walked toward his locker room Monday with a bag that appeared to be filled with bottles of mouthwash .


    Pittsburgh's superstar has insisted he did not complain about Subban's breath in Game 3 as Subban said he did.


    Game on.


    ---


    Laviolette had a message for Nashville fans attending Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final: Don't throw anything onto the ice.


    Five catfish, several towels, a stuffed penguin and a cowboy hat hit the ice Saturday night in the Predators' 5-1 win over Pittsburgh, which pulled Nashville within 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.


    The team shared Laviolette's video plea Monday on Twitter hours before Game 4. The coach asks fans to avoid both putting players and officials in danger and penalties.


    Police estimated more than 50,000 turned out for the first Stanley Cup Final game in Tennessee on Saturday night. That prompted changes to handle the crowds with only 200 fans with wristbands allowed on the plaza with a downtown amphitheater opened for a watch party.
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    Tuesday’s six-pack


    — Predators 4, Penguins 1— Home team has won all four Stanley Cup final games.


    — Al Pacino will play Joe Paterno in a movie that Barry Levinson is writing for HBO.


    — Over/under for no-hitters this year at William Hill sportsbooks in Las Vegas is 3.5.


    — There were seven grand slams hit Saturday, the most ever in one day. Mike Zunino knocked in seven runs, but probably didn’t even get on SportsCenter.


    — 7 of Ryan Zimmerman’s 16 homers have come in the 8th inning or later.


    — Apparently, the Cardinals wear navy hats on the road if they’re playing a team that wears red hats, like Cincinnati.


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


    Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but…….


    13) We live in a very, very impatient society. Thad Matta went 337-123 in 13 years as basketball coach at Ohio State, but went 38-29 the last two years (18-18 in Big 14 games). Monday, he was told to take a hike by the Buckeyes- he’ll get paid for the last three years of his contract.


    Matta’s recruiting had slipped, in part because of health concerns related to a botched back surgery, and his current team isn’t expected to be a contender next winter. Ohio State AD Gene Smith will conduct a national search; he’ll get turned down a lot and finally he will find a coach who, chances are, isn’t as good a coach as Matta.


    Ohio State has a dreamer’s Wish List of potential replacements: Brad Stevens, Billy Donovan, Chris Mack, Chris Holtmann. When you fire a guy with a record like Matta’s, it makes hiring his replacement a lot harder, especially when you’re known as a football school.


    If I was an Ohio State advisor, I’d tell them to give Eric Musselman a call; it would be a coup for the Buckeyes, because Musselmann is very good, and he has Ohio ties in his background. Nevada only pays him $300K.


    12) Speaking of Big 14 basketball, their teams are 14-4 vs SEC teams the last two years, including 2-1 vs Kentucky.


    11) 76ers announced that Joel Embiid/Ben Simmons won’t be playing summer league ball next month, meaning that even if Simmons is healthy for Opening Night this fall, it’ll be 18 months since he’s played in a real basketball game. He’s cashed a lot of checks but hasn’t played in the NBA yet. I’m very, very curious to see how he does.


    10) 18-year old kid named Casey Mittelstadt, who is a top prospect for the NHL Draft, couldn’t do any pull-ups and did one rep on the bench press at the NHL Combine.


    He should take solace in knowing that Kevin Durant had roughly the same experience when he went to the NBA Combine ten years ago. His career has turned out pretty well.


    9) College baseball coaches are bunt-crazy; Central Connecticut lost 6-5 to Dallas Baptist in the NCAA tournament Sunday- they had four sacrifice bunts in the game, which means that four of their 27 outs were made on purpose. No bueno.


    8) Minor leaguers in the Kansas City Royals’ system are not allowed to wear sunglasses on their hat, unless they wear them on the back of their head- they’re not allowed to cover up the logo on the front of the cap, in respect for the organization. I’m not making this up; they were talking about it on Sunday. Royals’ color commentator Rex Hudler didn’t even know that rule existed.


    7) Saw a movie Oliver Stone made a movie about George W Bush; Richard Dreyfuss played VP Dick Cheney— he looked so much like Cheney I almost didn’t recognize him. Dreyfuss starred in two of my favorite movies: Let It Ride and Moon over Parador— it was weird seeing him in a serious role.


    6) Jason Dufner shot 65-65-77-68 in winning The Memorial in Ohio; he is the first golfer since Nick Faldo at the ’89 Masters to win a tournament after shooting 77 or worse in the third round.


    5) I had no idea the E in Chuck E. Cheese stands for “Entertainment”, as if eating pizza with a person in a mouse costume wasn’t enough.


    4) Yadier Molina will be 35 in July; he’s started 48 of the Cardinals’ first 54 games behind the plate, the most of any big league catcher. St Louis is 26-29, only four games out of first place in the NL Central, 6.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot- they can’t afford to rest him.


    3) A guy in Tennessee found a stash of unopened baseball cards from the 50’s/60’s in his aunt’s attic; the cards are expected to reap a six-figure bonanza when he sells them. My earliest baseball cards are from 1965- may have to go look thru them.


    2) Seahawks signed QB Austin Davis to back up Russell Wilson, meaning Colin Kaepernick is likely to start the summer unemployed. Davis was with the Rams for a couple years; I actually liked him, thought he had potential.


    1) Still amazes me that Steph Curry went to Davidson and Klay Thompson went to Washington State, even though both their dads played in the NBA. Dell Curry played at Virginia Tech; they couldn’t have offered Steph a scholarship? Or his brother Seth, who went to Liberty before Duke poached him? Makes you wonder…….
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