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Thread: Cnotes 2017 NHL Best Bets-News-Trends-Thru The Stanley Cup ! !

  1. #1201  
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    MONDAY, APRIL 23
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    BOS at TOR 07:00 PM
    BOS -125
    U 6.0


    WAS at CLB 07:30 PM
    WAS -125
    U 5.5
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    Andersen helps Maple Leafs beat Bruins 3-1 to force Game 7
    April 23, 2018



    TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Maple Leafs won this one for their city.


    Frederik Andersen stopped 32 shots to lead the Maple Leafs to a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Monday night, forcing a decisive Game 7 in the first-round series.


    The victory came hours after 10 people were killed when a van drove onto a sidewalk in Toronto's north end and struck multiple pedestrians. Most of the players woke from their pregame naps to learn of the incident at 1:30 p.m. that also injured 15 people.


    ''We're sending all our love,'' said Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, who scored the tiebreaking goal and added an assist. ''This is a big win for us after an emotional day.''


    There was a moment of silence for the victims and their families prior the opening faceoff at Air Canada Centre.


    ''Very tragic event,'' Bruins forward Brad Marchand said.


    William Nylander and Tomas Plekanec also scored for Toronto. Nikita Zaitsev added two assists, and Plekanec also had one. The Maple Leafs, who trailed the series 3-1 before winning two straight, were behind 1-0 early in the second period of this one.


    Jake DeBrusk scored for the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask - pulled in Game 5 at home, finished with 27 saves.


    Game 7 is Wednesday night in Boston with the winner advancing to face Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference semifinals..


    Scoreless after an end-to-end first period, the Bruins grabbed a 1-0 lead 1:02 into the second when David Krejci won a faceoff after an icing against Auston Matthews right to DeBrusk, beat Andersen between his arm and body.


    Toronto responded just 35 seconds later when Nylander buried a rebound of Jake Gardiner shot from the point for his first goal of the playoffs.


    The Leafs appeared to go ahead at 3:04 when Zach Hyman beat Rask with a no-look backhand as he fell to the ice. The Bruins challenged the play for goalie interference, and replays showed the forward knocked the stick out of Rask's hands as he cruised through the crease just before scoring.


    Boston appeared to control the play after that as Toronto could barely get out of its own zone or complete a clean breakout. Andersen - who recorded 42 stops in a 4-3 victory in Game 5 on Saturday - made great saves off Rick Nash, Marchand and Patrice Bergeron to keep things even.


    ''Just enjoying the moment,'' Andersen said of the turnaround in his play. ''Being in a do-or-die position, I think we all embrace that as a team.''


    The Maple Leafs, however, wend ahead with 6:35 left in the period when Marner was quickest to a loose puck in the slot and beat Rask with a backhand to the far post after Marchand couldn't clear.


    Toronto killed off its first penalty early in the third, and was then left fuming when David Backes elbowed Andersen in the mask, but was only assessed an offsetting roughing minor when Roman Polak came to his goalie's defence.


    The Leafs couldn't connect on their third power play moments later, and Andersen stoned Sean Kuraly with under 10 minutes to go.


    Rask then robbed Nylander off a great feed from Auston Matthews.


    The Bruins went back to the power play with under six minutes left, but the best chance came when Rask stopped Kasperi Kapanen on a 2-on-1 that turned into a breakaway before stoning Krejci on a one-time shot that brought the towel-waving crowd to its feet.


    Rask followed that up by stopping Matthews on another 2-on-1 off a pass from Plekanec before Plekanec sealed the win with an empty-netter with 1:14 to play.


    ''Give them credit, they protected their house,'' Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.


    Both goalies were on their game in the first as the clubs combined for 27 shots on goal, including 17 from Boston.


    Andersen made a nice stop on Nash less than two minutes in after a Maple Leafs turnover before Rask, who allowed four goals on 13 shots before getting pulled in Game 5, fought off Zaitsev's point shot.


    Marchand came close when his shot off another turnover struck the inside of Andersen's pad and bounced out the other side.


    Rask held the fort on the game's first power play, and Andersen followed up with his second incredible stick save of the series when he swatted a Backes attempt from in tight with Nash lurking.


    NOTES: The Maple Leafs fell behind the Bruins 3-1 the last time the clubs met in the playoffs back in 2013 before tying the series 3-3 with back-to-back 2-1 victories. Toronto then became the first team in NHL history to blow a three-goal lead in the third period of a Game 7 as the Bruins stormed back from a 4-1 deficit and won 5-4 in overtime. ... Coming into these playoffs, teams that take a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series hold an all-time record of 270-28 - good for a success rate of 90.6 per cent. ... The Maple Leafs have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series 15 times, with their only victory coming in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final when they stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings.
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    Capitals advance with 6-3 win over Blue Jackets in Game 6
    April 23, 2018



    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The Washington Capitals can now turn their attention to the Pittsburgh Penguins and avenging some playoff disappointments.


    The Capitals won four straight games over the Columbus Blue Jackets after fumbling the first two in overtime at home, capping their opening-round playoff series with a 6-3 victory Monday night in Game 6.


    Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including his 50th playoff goal, and Braden Holtby had 35 saves to lift the Capitals, who never trailed after winning in overtime in Game 5 on Saturday. After Ovechkin's second-period goals, Washington never relinquished a two-goal lead. Four of the games in the series went to overtime.


    The Capitals will again move onto the conference semifinals after being eliminated by Pittsburgh in the second round in each of the past two seasons.


    ''I think we accomplished what we believed we could at the beginning of the series,'' said Holtby, who relieved a struggling Philipp Grubauer in Game 2 and was great the rest of the way. ''We'll enjoy it a bit, rest up and prepare for the next one.''


    Washington coach Barry Trotz didn't want to talk about Pittsburgh yet.


    ''Please let me breathe,'' he said. ''We haven't taken a breath since this started.''


    Chandler Stephenson had a goal and an assist, and Dimitry Orlov, Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller also tallied Monday for Washington, which never trailed in the game after prevailing in extra time in Game 5 on Saturday. The Capitals won each of the three games in Columbus.


    ''I do know on the road it seems like for whatever reason we're focused, we're driven,'' Washington forward T.J. Oshie said. ''It seems like we almost like it when an opposing team's crowd gets into it. It almost gets us going, too, and makes you want to quiet them down.''


    The story for the Blue Jackets in the four-game stretch was their power-play futility. After going 4 for 8 with a man advantage in the first two games, the Blue Jackets were 0 for 16 in the last four.


    ''Beginning of the series, our power play was going,'' said Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, who scored twice Monday. ''We were scoring at will. For whatever reason, it dried out. We've got to figure that out.''


    Pierre-Luc Dubois also scored and Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 22 saves for the Blue Jackets, who lost in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive season and fourth time overall. They remain the only active NHL franchise never to win a playoff series.


    The Capitals struck first again Monday night.


    Shortly after Holtby held off a Columbus barrage, Orlov got his first goal of the series when he skated into the slot and rifled a slap shot over Bobrovsky's glove side with 7:48 left in the first.


    Foligno got his first of the playoffs halfway through the second when he snapped a shot past Holtby from the right circle. That came soon after the Blue Jackets survived overlapping penalties, including 32 seconds of a 5-on-3.


    Ovechkin put back a rebound of a shot by Brooks Orpik to make it 2-1 with 7:10 left in the second, the 50th playoff goal of the Russian star's career. He then gave the Caps a two-goal lead with a one-timer from the left circle on a power play.


    The Blue Jackets tightened it to 3-2 early in the third when Dubois connected. But Smith-Pelly increased the Capitals' lead again 91 seconds later. Stevenson got a short-handed goal 1 1/2 minutes later to pad it.


    Foligno got the Blue Jackets to 5-3 at 8:22 in the third, but Columbus couldn't get closer. Eller added an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left.


    ''It was a war out there,'' Trotz said. ''It was a really strong series by them, and it forced us to the limit for sure.''


    NOTES: Washington is the first team in NHL history to win a playoff series after losing each of the first two games at home in overtime. ... Washington again kept the Blue Jackets' best player Artemi Panarin off the score sheet after he had two goals and five assists in the first three playoff games... The Blue Jackets are 2-8 at home in four postseason appearances. ... Ovechkin had five goals in the playoff series.
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  4. #1204  
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    SCHEDULE FOR WEDNESDAY APRIL 25, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    12:00 AM Columbus Blue Jackets Washington Capitals Capital One Arena
    7:30 PM Toronto Maple Leafs Boston Bruins TD Garden

    Updated Tue Apr 24 1:02 AM EDT





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




    NHL PLAYOFF RECORD:


    DATE W-L-T % UNITS RECORD


    04/23/2018 2-2-0 50.00% -1.75
    04/22/2018 2-2-0 50.00% +0
    04/21/2018 2-4-0 33.33% -15.25
    04/20/2018 2-3-1 40.00% -26.00
    04/19/2018 0-4-0 0.00% -22.00
    04/18/2018 4-4-0 50.00% -1.00
    04/17/2018 4-2-0 66.67% +9.75
    04/16/2018 5-3-0 62.50% +4.25
    04/15/2018 5-1-2 83.33% +21.25
    04/14/2018 1-6-1 14.29% -27.75
    04/13/2018 2-3-1 40.00% -11.50
    04/12/2018 4-5-1 44.44% -4.00
    04/11/2018 4-2-0 66.67% +9.50


    TOTALS..........41-41-5.......50.00%.....-64.50
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    Tuesday’s 6-pack


    Attendance at spring football games around the country:


    86,818: Nebraska


    82,184: Georgia


    74,732: Alabama


    71,000: Penn State


    65,098: Tennessee


    60,934: Florida State


    Quote of the Day
    “It was one of those kind of deals that seems small at the time, but every now and then, you hit big on one of them.”
    St Louis Cardinals’ GM Michael Girsch, on trading for 1B Jose Martinez

    Tuesday’s quiz

    What was the nickname of the NHL team that used to play in Quebec City?


    Monday’s quiz
    Oakland is the only current major league baseball team that shares its stadium with an NFL team.


    Sunday’s quiz
    Before last night, Dallas Braden was last Oakland A’s pitcher to throw a no-hitter, in 2010.




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


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


    13) I’m tired of mock drafts, people guessing about what the Browns/Giants are thinking, just want to get to Thursday night and watch the real draft.


    The guys who get drafted have to be relieved once they find out where they’ll be playing. Getting interviewed by teams and the media for two consecutive months has to be tiresome.


    12) According to Mark Dalton, Senior VP of Media Relations for the Arizona Cardinals, a review of 37 prominent mock drafts from 2017 reveals the average number of first round “hits” (right player to right team) was 4.2/32. Four out of 32. No bueno.


    11) Sounds like Browns’ GM John Dorsey isn’t going to tell his coach who the Browns will draft until Wednesday night. Nothing like getting your working relationship off to a fast start.


    Next to “dysfunctional” in the dictionary, there must be a picture of a Browns’ helmet.


    10) Phillies’ LF Rhys Hoskins had 67 RBI in his first 70 major league games.


    9) In 2008, there were 32,884 strikeouts in major league baseball; last year, there were 40,104 strikeouts. Thats a 22% increase in eight years.


    Is defense less important now because there are fewer balls put in play?


    8) It wasn’t less important in Denver Sunday; Cubs’ CF Albert Almora made two great catches in the first two innings against the Rockies. You need fast outfielders to play at Coors Field, which has a bigger outfield than most places; Almora laid full out running to left-center twice; two great plays.


    7) Movie trivia: The 1998 poker movie Rounders is one my favorite movies. In the movie, Matt Damon’s character watches Johnny Chan play poker on TV at the World Series of Poker, and later tells a story of how he beat Chan in one hand playing in Atlantic City.


    Turns out when the movie was originally written, Phil Hellmuth was supposed to be in the movie, but someone convinced the movie’s writers that having Chan in the movie instead of Hellmuth would be better casting, so the change was made.


    6) This from the website of former NFL executive Phil Savage: Most teams have 100-150 names on their “draftable” board. Some teams allow scouts are allowed to put red stars or black dots next to a prospect’s name, the star to denote a favorite prospect- the dot would have a negative connotation about that player.


    5) Teams do last-day, last-minute prep to make sure players to be picked are alive and well.


    Savage tells a story of how one time in the Canadian Football League, a team drafted a player who literally died several hours before the draft. Seriously.


    4) When baseball teams have giveaway promotions, they generally have the best giveaways on days when the worst teams are in town, so more people will attend those games.


    Sounds like the people who run the Bronx Bombers don’t think too much of my Oakland A’s, seeing as how the A’s are in town for Bat Day on May 12.


    3) You can actually wager on the NFL Draft: over/under on number of Alabama players in the first round Thursday is 3.5, with over -$130, under +$110.


    2) I’ve said this several teams in this space over the years, so one more time won’t hurt: the NCAA should allow kids who leave early for the NBA but don’t get drafted to keep their college eligibility. What would it hurt? Would increase the talent level in the college game.


    1) Could you imagine what it would be like if the NFL did their draft like the NHL, with the league’s executives all in one arena for one night?
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    West Semifinal Cheat Sheet
    April 23, 2018

    Key:
    C – Central
    P – Pacific


    1C Nashville vs. 2C Winnipeg


    Predators: 53-18-11, 117 points
    Jets: 52-20-10, 114 points



    Season series: The Predators posted a 3-1-1 record against the Jets this season, including a 2-1 mark at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville outlasted Winnipeg, 6-5 in the first road meeting at Bell MTS Place on February 27 as the Predators overcame a pair of two-goal deficits. The Jets edged the Predators in the shootout one month later, 5-4, but Winnipeg erased an early 2-0 hole to pick up the win as a home favorite.


    Nashville beat Winnipeg by two goals in two home wins by scores of 5-3 and 3-1. The only Jets’ victory in regulation over the Predators came on December 19 at Bridgestone Arena, 6-4 as +130 underdogs. In that contest, Nashville returned home from a perfect 3-0 western Canada road swing, but Winnipeg scored two goals in the final two minutes for the win.


    Previous playoff series: The Predators eliminated the Avalanche in six games, finishing Colorado off on Sunday in a 5-0 shutout as -175 road favorites. Nashville scored five goals in three of the victories, while netting at least three goals in five of the games against Colorado.


    The Jets also pulled off a 5-0 shutout in eliminating the Wild in five games, including a perfect 3-0 home record. For the exception of a Game 3 blowout loss at Minnesota, the Jets outscored the Wild, 14-3 in the four victories, while finishing UNDER the total in four of five games in the series.


    1P Vegas vs. 3P San Jose


    Golden Knights: 51-24-7, 109 points
    Sharks: 45-27-10, 100 points



    Season series: The Golden Knights owned the Sharks this season by putting together a 3-0-1 record. In the first meeting between the franchises on November 24 at T-Mobile Arena, Vegas edged San Jose in overtime, 5-4. The Sharks overcame a 4-1 deficit to force OT, but Jonathan Marchessault’s goal lifted the Golden Knights to victory as short underdogs.


    The only matchup decided by more than one goal was Vegas’ 5-3 triumph at SAP Center in early February as the Golden Knights scored a trio of third period goals for the win. The Sharks broke through with a 2-1 home overtime triumph on March 22 as San Jose outshot Vegas, 44-25. The Knights got past the Sharks in the final meeting, 3-2 on March 31 back in Sin City as William Karlsson’s short-handed goal in the third period vaulted Vegas to victory.


    Previous playoff series:The Golden Knights entered their first season in the NHL not predicted to be a factor in the postseason, or at least qualify for the playoffs. Vegas not only captured the Pacific division title, but swept through the first round by knocking out Los Angeles in four games. The Golden Knights posted only seven goals in the entire series, but also allowed just three goals, including two shutouts in Games 1 and 4 from Marc-Andre Fleury.


    The Sharks were first-round victims to the upstart Oilers last season in six games, but San Jose began this postseason with a bang by eliminating state rival Anaheim in a four-game sweep. Two of the victories came by one goal each, while routing the Ducks in Game 3 by an 8-1 count. San Jose limited Anaheim to four goals in the series, as the Sharks picked up their first playoff sweep since downing Vancouver in the 2013 opening round.
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    Preds brace for physical series vs Jets
    April 23, 2018



    DENVER (AP) The Nashville Predators are done dealing with the speed of Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche.


    Next, they get the physicality of Dustin Byfuglien and the Winnipeg Jets .


    There's no easy test this time of year.


    ''They've got size. They've got skill. They've got speed,'' forward Austin Watson said Sunday night after Nashville beat the Avalanche 5-0 in Game 6 to clinch the series. ''Get our rest and get prepared.''


    Nashville looks every bit like the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final a season ago and won the Presidents' Trophy this season. The Predators are hitting their stride heading into the Winnipeg series. They had 11 forwards notch at least a point in the Colorado series.


    Not to be outdone, the Jets had a balanced scoring attack in closing out Minnesota, 4-1.


    ''We saw how the regular season went against them. They're good hockey games,'' said Watson, whose team went 3-1-1 against the Jets during the year. ''We're excited.''


    This goaltending showdown should be worth the price of admission: Pekka Rinne vs. Connor Hellebuyck.


    One Vezina Trophy finalist against another. Both are coming off a solid series, with Rinne stopping 22 shots in a 5-0 win Sunday to close out the series with Colorado. Hellebuyck had a 1.94 goals-against average in eliminating the Wild.


    ''Moving into the second round, I think you want to be playing very good defensive hockey against Winnipeg,'' Rinne said. ''One of the better teams in the league. They have a lot of firepower, a lot of talent up front. Also, like ours, their `D' is a big part of their game. I think it's going to be very exciting, good series.''


    The Western Conference semifinals feature a little bit of history: This marks only the third time the final four in the conference are all chasing after their first Stanley Cup since the introduction of conferences in `74-75, according to information provided by the league. The scenario also occurred in 2012 (the Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Cup) and in 1984 (Edmonton).


    In the other semifinal matchup set to get underway, expansion Las Vegas faces San Jose.


    ''Anytime you win a series you're feeling confident,'' Predators forward Nick Bonino said. ''We're going to be as confident as we can going against Winnipeg. We know how good they are.''


    That's a sentiment shared by forward Filip Forsberg, who scored four goals against Colorado.


    ''It was a good test for us. These guys have been flying around for six games, playing really fast hockey,'' Forsberg said. ''We've been trying to play as fast as we can as well. If we can bring that speed into the next round that will be good.''


    The Nashville defense will have its hands full with the likes of Jets forward Patrik Laine, who scored 44 goals in the regular season, and Blake Wheeler (91 points).


    Still, the Predators enter on a high after posting a shutout victory in a series-ending game for the first time in franchise history. They joined Vegas and Winnipeg as the third team to accomplish the feat this postseason.


    ''It's better to end it this way than hanging on at the end,'' Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. ''There are other teams on the ice that are pretty good hockey teams. You see it in other series going on. It would have been great if you win (the series) 4-0 but that wasn't the case. We had an opposition that was young, skilled and fast and they had nothing to lose, and they played that way. There were times in the first five games it didn't look like it was just going happen - we were going to have to work for it.


    ''It was nice tonight to play a game we were comfortable with.''


    The Avs take some pride in knowing they gave the Predators fits at times.


    ''We made them fight for it,'' Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said.


    Exactly.


    ''The way Colorado works and battles and plays the game fast, it definitely challenged us,'' Predators center Colton Sissons said. ''It was a good experience for us going forward.''
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    Lured out of retirement, Preds' Mike Fisher chasing 1st Cup
    April 23, 2018



    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Losing the Stanley Cup last June wasn't what hurt Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg the most. Seeing how painful the loss was for veteran center Mike Fisher proved even more agonizing.


    ''That was probably the worst feeling for me personally,'' Forsberg said. ''Seeing the look on Fish's face, how close it was and obviously didn't know then if he had another chance. And yeah, he's definitely one of the guys that I would love to win for.''


    One final shot at the Stanley Cup that's eluded Fisher throughout his 17-year career wasn't the priority last August when the 37-year-old center announced his retirement . The Predators, who always wanted him back, persuaded him to return late in the season with some help from Fisher's wife, country star Carrie Underwood.


    Fisher says the support means a lot to him.


    ''It also means you're getting old too,'' Fisher quipped.


    ''You don't have too many chances. But part of this coming back too wasn't just about me, it was about the guys too and you figure try to help a group and do it together,'' Fisher said. ''That's the thing about team sports and hockey is just having that fun together. There's nothing like it. So it's definitely more than just about me the old guy winning. It's so much greater than that for sure.''


    Nashville wanted Fisher back for his skills on the ice and his experience.


    Fisher can play both ends of the ice and can win face-off battles in the defensive zone. He also has played 1,104 regular-season games in his career. In this postseason, only Toronto's Patrick Marleau (182) and San Jose's Joe Thornton (160) have played more postseason games than Fisher (140) without winning a Stanley Cup.


    The 6-foot-1 center now is in the playoffs with a Presidents' Trophy winner. After finishing off Colorado in six games Sunday night, Nashville awaits a showdown with the Winnipeg Jets in the second round.


    Knowing the Predators had a great team was only part of why Fisher came out of retirement. Spending time with good friends added to the attraction.


    ''You look at your career and playoffs are what you do and so much fun,'' Fisher said. ''I've had the opportunity to have some pretty good runs. But you look back and those are really fun times that you enjoy and you remember with guys. And so it's good memories.''


    Fisher helped the Predators win their first Western Conference title last spring to reach the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final. Then they lost in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Fisher didn't make a decision on retirement until August.


    The Predators made sure to protect themselves while waiting.


    General manager David Poile signed Nick Bonino as a free agent away from Pittsburgh. In November, Poile acquired center Kyle Turris away from Ottawa as part of a three-team trade giving Nashville plenty of depth at the position.


    The Predators kept the door open to their former captain. They started talking more in December, knowing the depth needed to play into June. Underwood also kept asking Fisher what he wanted to do. The husband and father who had focused on building a house and a hunting show finally said yes.


    A chance to win the Cup was too good to pass on, then again Underwood could have just decided to kick Fisher out of the house.


    ''That might've been part of it,'' Fisher said with a laugh. ''But yeah, definitely it's good to be back. She's a big fan. She's going to be at all the games she can.''


    Fisher announced his return at a news conference Jan. 31 . He spent February working his way back into shape and signed a one-year, $1 million deal for the rest of the season Feb. 26 when NHL rosters expanded at the trade deadline. Fisher, who had 18 goals and 24 assists last season, scored in his first game back , a 4-3 win in Vancouver on March 2.


    Against Colorado, Fisher centered Nashville's fourth line. He averaged 11 minutes, 16 seconds per game in the first round while winning 75.5 percent of his face-offs.


    Forsberg said Fisher looked like himself from his first game back and obviously is more comfortable with each game.


    ''Really good guy to have around the team,'' Forsberg said, ''and he's been awesome.''
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    LEADING OFF: Cobb faces ex-Tampa Bay pals, Kershaw is 1-3
    April 24, 2018



    A look at what's happening around the majors Wednesday:
    ---


    REMEMBER HIM?


    The Tampa Bay Rays face former teammate Alex Cobb when they play at Camden Yards. They had been set to meet up Tuesday night, but the game in Baltimore was rained out. The 30-year-old Cobb spent his entire career with the Rays before joining the Orioles in late March. Over six years with Tampa Bay, the right-hander was 48-35 and one of the leaders of the staff.


    Cobb signed a $57 million, four-year deal with Baltimore. He got off to a late start because he missed most of spring training, and since his return has gone 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA.


    LOOKS ODD


    Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has a 2.45 ERA after five starts, not far off his career mark of 2.36. But his won-loss record this season looks unusual - he's 1-3. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner was a combined 67-18 over the previous four years. He'll try to get back in the victory column when he starts against Miami at Dodger Stadium.


    NEED A DOME!


    There have been 28 postponements this season in the majors, the most related to weather through April since the commissioner's office started keeping those records in 1986.


    The Detroit-Pittsburgh game was rained out Tuesday night, forcing a doubleheader at PNC Park. It will be the second time they've played a twinbill this year against each other after wintry weather pushed back opening day at Comerica Park on March 29 and caused another matchup to be called off.


    The Cubs and Indians played through steady rain Tuesday night in Cleveland. The wet weather intensified throughout the game, leaving puddles in the infield and causing Chicago reliever Steve Cishek to slip on the mound several times.


    STRONG STARTS


    Justin Verlander (3-0, 1.10 ERA) makes his sixth start of the season when Houston hosts the Angels. ... Max Scherzer (4-1, 1.36 ERA), winner of the last two NL Cy Young Awards, pitches at San Francisco. ... Phillies newcomer Jake Arrieta (2-0, 2.04 ERA) faces Arizona star Zack Greinke at Citizens Bank Park.


    GRAY AREA


    Yankees right-hander Sonny Gray (1-1, 8.27 ERA) has totaled just 16 1/3 innings in four starts this season. He'll aim to add a little length when he pitches against Minnesota at Yankee Stadium.
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    Leafs hope for new ending in Game 7
    April 24, 2018



    BOSTON (AP) This is where the Toronto Maple Leafs try to change the ending.


    After beating the Bruins in back-to-back elimination games to force their first-round playoff series to the limit - just like they did in 2013 - the Maple Leafs are hoping to finish the job on Wednesday in Game 7 in Boston.


    That's something they couldn't do five years ago, when they became the first team in NHL history to blow a three-goal, third-period deficit and lose a Stanley Cup playoff game.


    ''We've got some more work to do,'' said goalie Frederik Andersen, who stopped 32 of 33 shots in Game 6 on Monday to help Toronto win 3-1 and prolong its season.


    ''It's the same kind of pressure we've felt these last two games, where we've been facing elimination,'' he said. ''Game 7 should be the same. It's something that you all dream of - those big moments - and you also want to perform.''


    So do the Bruins, who have struggled to put away Toronto for the second consecutive time. In '13, the Maple Leafs won two straight and then opened a 4-1 lead in the third period of Game 7, but Boston scored a pair of goals 31 seconds apart in the final 2 minutes of regulation before winning in overtime.


    Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game-winner, is one of seven Bruins remaining from that team, compared with four players wearing Toronto jerseys.


    ''It's nice to have those guys,'' said Boston forward David Pastrnak, who had four goals and five assists in the first two games of the series this year but only two assists since. ''They've been here a bunch, so they know what to expect. It's good for our young guys to have them around.''


    The winner of Wednesday night's game will play Tampa Bay, which eliminated New Jersey in five games. The Lightning will host the first two games, regardless of which opponent advances.


    ''I don't think there's any panic at all in this group,'' Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.


    Toronto feels the same way.


    ''We think we're going to win,'' Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. ''We've thought that all along, and we've crawled our way back and now we have the opportunity of a lifetime. This is where you want to be.''


    PRESSURE


    Both teams paid their respects to the victims of the rental van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured 15 more. There was a moment of silence before Monday night's game, and Babcock opened his postgame remarks by sending support to those affected. Asked on Tuesday about the pressure his team faces heading into a winner-take-all game, Cassidy said he has tried to keep things in perspective.


    ''Listen, yesterday in Toronto, the first-responders, they were under pressure. That's pressure to me, that's real-life pressure,'' he said. ''This is a game that players dream about being in this situation, Game 7, playing road hockey in a small town in Canada or a big city in the United States or somewhere in between. That's what it's all about. ... Now you've got to go out and embrace it.''


    GAME 7 HISTORY


    The Bruins are 13-12 in Game 7s, with a 12-8 record at home. Toronto is 12-10 and 5-9 on the road. Boston is 2-1 in Game 7s against Toronto, including 2013. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will be playing in his 12th career Game 7 - the most for any active player, and just one shy of the record held by Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens.


    ROUND TWO


    The Capitals and Penguins await the start of the second round, when they will play each other for the third straight postseason. Pittsburgh is 9-1 all-time in playoff series against Washington.


    In the West, the pairings are Vegas against San Jose and Winnipeg against Nashville.
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    Penguins face familiar foe in Capitals
    April 24, 2018



    CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) Sidney Crosby has faced the Washington Capitals three times in the playoffs. All three times the Pittsburgh captain has led his team to victory. And all three times the Penguins used the win as the springboard to a raucous mid-June parade with the Stanley Cup in tow.


    Still, Crosby sounded like a cautious investor on Tuesday when asked if Pittsburgh has a mental advantage over rival Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals heading into yet another postseason showdown in the Eastern Conference semifinals starting later this week.


    Past performance, the two-time MVP stressed, does not guarantee future results.


    ''I think it depends on what you do in the series and how you play,'' Crosby said. ''I don't think it plays a huge role. I guess to answer your question, no.''


    A mantra Crosby's teammates repeated over and over they prepared for yet another showdown in a rivalry that somehow manages to be both compelling and one-sided. Pittsburgh is 9-1 all-time in the postseason against Washington regardless of who is in the black-and-gold sweaters and who is in red, white and blue.


    Not that Ovechkin is intimidated. The Capitals star said he "can't wait" to get another shot at the Penguins after spearheading Washington's first-round win over Columbus in six games. That's fine by Pittsburgh, which has played Lucy to Washington's Charlie Brown for more than a quarter century, dangling a potentially deep playoff run in front of the Capitals only to pull it back at the last minute.


    The Penguins, however, remain wary. Just because they always beat Washington doesn't mean they're going to always beat Washington. The teams split their four meetings during the regular season, with the Capitals wrapping up their third straight Metropolitan Division title with a 3-1 win in Pittsburgh on April Fool's Day.


    Of course, none of it matters once the puck drops in Game 1.


    ''It's a new year,'' Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang said. ''The series is going to play out differently. The game is going to be won differently. You don't know how it is going to go. The only thing I know is it's a good rivalry, two really good teams, two teams that have a lot of punch offensively. It's going to be fun to be a part of.''


    Particularly for Letang. He missed all of Pittsburgh's run to a second straight Stanley Cup last spring while recovering from neck surgery, though he was able to make his way to the arena for Game 7 of the conference semifinals, when Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 29 shots he faced and the Penguins escaped with a 2-0 victory to finish a series in which both teams scored 20 goals and won on opposing ice at least twice.


    Though there are a handful of new faces on both sides, the principals remain the same. Ovechkin and Crosby. Evgeni Malkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Letang and Braden Holtby. Two weeks of taut, tense hockey in the offing.


    ''I think it's the same old dangerous team,'' Letang said. ''Like, don't get me wrong, those series went the distance, they went to overtime. It was a tough matchup that could have gone either way. They cause the same problems to our team. They cause problems on the power play. They have a lot of skill. They make a lot of plays.''


    Yet the Penguins have always found a way to make at least one more, though they may be at less than 100 percent when things get going. Malkin and forward Carl Hagelin both missed practice on Tuesday. Malkin is dealing with a lower-body injury while Hagelin has an upper-body issue after colliding with Philadelphia's Claude Giroux in Pittsburgh's clinching victory over the Flyers in Game 6.


    That could provide more playing time for players like Riley Sheahan - who filled in capably on the second line for Malkin in Game 6 - and rookie Zach Aston-Reese. The 23-year-old was in high school the first time Crosby and Ovechkin met in the playoffs in 2009 - when the Penguins blitzed the Capitals in Game 7 of the conference semifinals on their way to the Cup.


    This time, Aston-Reese's view will be markedly different. He noticed an uptick in intensity from the regular season when the Penguins fended off the Flyers. Now, the dial goes up to 11 and stays there.


    ''I expect every game to be almost like a Game 7,'' Aston-Reese said.


    That's because it almost always is.
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    Armadillo: Wednesday's six-pack


    You can wager on where players will be taken in the NFL Draft Thursday:


    — Baker Mayfield, under 6.5 (-$120)


    — Bradley Chubb, under 5.5 (-$180)


    — Calvin Ridley 19.5


    — Derrius Guice, under 32.5 (-$200)


    — Lamar Jackson, over 17.5 (-$200)


    — Saquon Barkley, under 5.5 (-$400)


    **********


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


    13) First round draft picks in the last five NFL Drafts:
    SEC 50, ACC 30, Pac-12 29, Big 14 21, Big X 11.


    12) The definition of tone deaf:


    Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that Rogers Centre in Toronto is in need of an update. The downtown stadium has been the Blue Jays’ home since 1989.


    Not sure if Mr Manfred ever watches CNN, but there was a tragedy in Toronto yesterday, with a van killing ten people in an apparent act of terrorism. I’m guessing that today wasn’t the best time to be asking for improvements to the city’s domed stadium.


    11) 76ers 104, Heat 91— Philly is on to the second round for first time since 2012.


    10) UCLA QB Josh Rosen has good bloodlines for athletic success; his father Charles was a nationally ranked ice skater who nearly qualified for the Olympics in the 1970s; his mother, Liz, was captain of the Princeton lacrosse team.


    9) Mets’ SS Amed Rosario got his 4th walk of the season last night, in his 67th plate appearance; last year, he had three walks in 170 PAs.


    8) Big 14 is already moving to 20 conference games next basketball season. ACC will do the same in 2019-20. Now the Pac-12 might go to 20 league games, too. This will hurt mid-majors trying to get an at large NCAA bid- extra conference games will raise teams’ power ratings.


    7) Reds 9, Braves 7 (12)— Atlanta scored four runs in 9th inning to tie game, but Scooter Gennett sent everyone home happy with a walk-off homer in the 12th inning.


    6) Golfer Matt Kuchar has made 28 consecutive cuts, longest current streak on the PGA Tour.


    5) There have been 77 home runs hit into McCovey Cove behind the RF fence at Giants’ Pac-Bell ballpark in San Francisco; 35 of those were hit by Barry Bonds.


    4) Houston Rockets led 50-49 at halftime in Minnesota Monday night, then outscored the Timberwolves 50-20 in the 3rd quarter, as they took a 3-1 series lead. It was only the second time ever a team had a +30 quarter in a playoff game.


    3) I wonder if someday baseball will go to flat bases, like we used to have in kickball when we were kids. Two reasons:
    a) Players sometimes turn an ankle stepping on a base, especially if it is raining.
    b) Once in a great while, batted balls hit a base and provide a lucky hit.


    Not saying I would endorse that, but could see it happening.


    2) 236 players declared as early-entrants for the NBA Draft, 181 from colleges; those who did not sign with an agent can still go back to college. There are only 60 picks in the NBA Draft, so do the math. Salary in the G-League is $35,000 a year, about the same as tuition for a year in college. Some kids have some very interesting choices to make.


    1) I have no sympathy for guys who are eligible for the NBA or NFL Draft who fail a drug test before the draft. You’re on the verge of getting a job that potentially can pay you millions of dollars; you KNOW you’re going to get drug tested. You KNOW it!!!


    A wide receiver from Florida failed a drug test at the NFL Combine. At the freakin’ Combine? Not good.
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    NHL
    Dunkel


    Wednesday, April 25




    Toronto @ Boston


    Game 25-26
    April 25, 2018 @ 7:30 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Toronto
    10.265
    Boston
    11.178
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Boston
    by 1
    3
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Boston
    -165
    5 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Boston
    (-165); Under









    NHL
    Long Sheet


    Wednesday, April 25



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


    TORONTO (52-29-0-7, 111 pts.) at BOSTON (53-23-0-12, 118 pts.) - 4/25/2018, 7:35 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    TORONTO is 2-10 ATS (+12.4 Units) in road games after a win by 2 goals or more this season.
    BOSTON is 11-16 ATS (-16.3 Units) in April games over the last 3 seasons.
    BOSTON is 273-235 ATS (-157.9 Units) in home games second half of the season since 1996.
    BOSTON is 24-28 ATS (-27.9 Units) in home games after a division game over the last 3 seasons.
    BOSTON is 36-42 ATS (-35.4 Units) revenging a loss versus opponent over the last 2 seasons.
    BOSTON is 40-46 ATS (-18.7 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    TORONTO is 11-8 (+5.5 Units) against the spread versus BOSTON over the last 3 seasons
    TORONTO is 11-8-0 straight up against BOSTON over the last 3 seasons
    9 of 17 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+0.5 Units)

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







    NHL


    Wednesday, April 25



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


    Toronto Maple Leafs
    Toronto is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games
    Toronto is 4-8 SU in its last 12 games on the road
    The total has gone OVER in 8 of Toronto's last 10 games on the road
    Toronto is 10-4 SU in its last 14 games when playing Boston
    Toronto is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games when playing on the road against Boston
    Boston Bruins
    Boston is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games at home
    Boston is 12-3 SU in its last 15 games at home
    Boston is 4-10 SU in its last 14 games when playing Toronto
    Boston is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games when playing at home against Toronto
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    Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 7 Betting Preview and Odds: Leafs at Bruins


    Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins (-170, 5.5)


    Series tied 3-3.


    The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a postseason series since 2004 -- a streak they hope to snap when they visit the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night in a winner-take-all Game 7 of their Eastern Conference first-round set. After facing series deficits of 2-0 and 3-1, the Maple Leafs staved off elimination with a 4-3 win at Boston in Game 5 before prevailing 3-1 on Monday night.


    Despite's Boston early dominance, the series is eerily reminiscent of the previous meeting between the teams in the playoffs in 2013, when Toronto won Games 5 and 6 only to become the first team in history to cough up a three-goal third-period lead in Game 7. “In both scenarios, we’ve been down 3-1 and come back,” Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner said. "We’re not thinking specifically about (the past) with Boston. Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup and you have to beat everybody. The pressure is kind of off us. Just relax, treat it like another game, and ultimately you’ll be ready.” It appeared the Bruins would make it a short series after winning the opening two games by a combined 12-4, but they remain confident of advancing to a conference semifinal matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “If anybody would have told us at the start of the year that we’d be going into a Game 7 in the first round at home, we would have taken it," Boston forward Brad Marchand said. "Whatever has happened in the last six games doesn’t mean anything. ... It’s going to be a challenge. They’re a great team and they’ve played really well in this series. It’s gonna be fun and we’re looking forward to it.”


    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS (Toronto), NESN (Boston)


    BETTING STATS:





    LINE HISTORY: The Bruins opened as -165 moneyline favorites for Game 7 and, as of Tuesday night, that number has been bet up to -170. 67 percent of moneyline wagers logged by consensus for this game are on the favorite Bruins. The total hit betting boards at 5.5 and has not moved.


    GOALIE MATCHUP:
    W L OTL GAA Save % SO
    Frederik Andersen 38 21 5 2.81 .918 5
    Tuukka Rask 34 14 5 2.36 .917 3


    ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS: Frederik Andersen entered the series with a 10-1-0 record against Boston, but he was pierced early and often before turning in superb performances in the past two outings, making 42 saves in Game 5 and turning aside 32 of 33 shots in Game 6. “We’ve played with that (elimination) mentality for a bit now and we should be comfortable with it,” Andersen said. “But I don’t think there’s too much momentum going on in the playoffs like this." Mitch Marner is riding the momentum of a stellar series, delivering the tiebreaking score Monday to give him two goals and six assists during a five-game point streak.


    ABOUT THE BRUINS: Boston's top line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak amassed a staggering 20 points in the first two games of the series, but the unit has been held off the scoresheet in each of the three losses while posting a minus-16 in those games. Maybe there is a little bit of (frustration), but you've got to go back to the drawing board and find the character we've shown all year," said Bergeron, who has been stifled since sitting out Game 4 due to injury. "Now it's about one game." Coach Bruce Cassidy dropped Rick Nash to the third line with Riley Nash and David Backes and replaced him with Danton Heinen.


    MATCHUP CHART:





    INJURY REPORT:


    Leafs - C Leo Komarov (Questionable, Lower Body), LW Joffrey Lupul (I-R, Conditioning).


    Bruins - D Brandon Carlo (Out For Season, Ankle), LW Anders Bjork (Out For Season, Shoulder).


    TRENDS:


    * Maple Leafs are 6-0 in their last 6 Wednesday games.
    * Bruins are 21-6 in their last 27 home games.
    * Over is 8-1-1 in Maple Leafs last 10 road games.
    * Over is 10-2-4 in Bruins last 16 home games.
    * Home team is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings.
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