Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

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NEW JERSEY +111 over Pittsburgh
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Regulation only. Forget the Penguins for a moment. We all know they're a talented bunch that are capable of defeating anyone at anytime. They've already defeated the Devils once this season by a score of 5-1. This has nothing to do with fading them and everything to do with playing value.
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These two will play a home and home series this weekend and the Devils will be a dog in both. Should they lose here, we'll come back on them tomorrow as an even bigger pup because they're very likely to win at least one of these two games. Why this host is getting no respect is puzzling. All the Devils have done is pick up points in nine of their 10 games so far. They have one regulation loss. New Jersey has outscored its past three opponents, the Islanders, Rangers and Lightning, by a combined 10-3. When the high-flying Bolts came to town on Thursday, the Devils simply shut them down. How undervalued are the Devils? Consider that Pittsburgh closed as a -118 favorite at the lowly Capitals this past week and they’re the same price here? That’s just senseless but beneficial to us.
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Carolina +119 over PHILADELPHIA
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OT Included. The Hurricanes are just 5-4 overall and the main reason they have four losses is because Cam Ward was shaky early on. When Carolina came in here last Saturday, they were on the losing end of a 5-3 final but Carolina dominated play and outshot the Flyers 42-24. Since then, Ward has regained his outstanding form and the 'Canes have responded with back-to-back road wins over Toronto and Ottawa, while outscoring that pair 7-3. The Hurricanes are back to being a very dangerous club.
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The Flyers are still not right. They've dropped four of six with the latest setback being a 3-2 OT loss to Florida on Thursday. Philadelphia will play its fourth straight at home and that is usually a good angle to fade early on because in a new season bonding occurs on the road. The Flyers hit the road for a six-game trip beginning on Monday in Toronto and it's something the entire club is looking forward to. Meanwhile, Philly has scored two goals or less in five of its past six and have scored two or fewer in nine of 11 contests. That's not the type of team you want to be backing right now spotting a tag.
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MONTREAL -½ +107 over Toronto
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Regulation only. Eventually all things equal out and that's certainly the case with these year's Maple Leafs. Toronto has won five of six on the road and it's a pace that not even the top clubs in the NHL can maintain. The Maple Leafs are a playoff bubble team and simply can't keep winning on the road. They have already defeated the Canadiens once this year in Montreal and history and talent suggests it's not going to happen again. No matter where they play, the Leafs have not defeated the Habs twice in succession since early in 2010, a string of 13 games. Dominating road games, the Maple Leafs are not. Against Washington and Winnipeg, Toronto managed just 18 and 21 shots on net respectively. At New York against the Rangers, Leafs were out-shot 42-17. Toronto has just two power-play goals in their past 25 opportunities on the road.
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The Canadiens will be ready tonight. They gave Carey Price the night off on Thursday against Buffalo in anticipation of this one. Had Price been in net, chances are Montreal would not have surrendered a 4-2 third period lead. The Canadiens have won five of their past six home games with only loss over that span coming against the elite Bruins by a 2-1 final. In one less game than Toronto, Montreal has scored three more goals while allowing seven less than the Leafs. The Habs are the superior squad this year, in goals for, goals against, power-play, penalty kill and perhaps the most important position of all, in net where not many teams in the league have a better goaltender than Price. Leafs' charmed road life comes to an abrupt halt here.
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Nashville +108 over MINNESOTA
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OT Included. The Predators have played just three home games this year yet they only have two regulation losses in 10 games. Even more impressive is Nashville's current run of four straight wins over Los Angeles twice, San Jose and St. Louis in which they outscored that choice group 13-3. The Preds have built a wall around Pekka Rinne by holding the opposition to one goal or fewer in four straight.
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Meanwhile, this is the last team the Wild want to see right now. Last month's win was Nashville's fourth straight versus Minnesota. The Predators have won seven of eight in the series, allowing one goal or fewer in six of those games. The Wild have just two wins in their past eight games. They have not scored more than one goal in three straight while losing all three and allowing nine against. Ryan Suter has no goals, four assists and a minus -7 rating in his new digs and the Predators will be looking to stick it to their ex-defenceman and his new team again. We get arguably the league’s best defense with a team playing very well, taking back a tag against a team that still can't score goals and that's in awful form. That works for us.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Bryan Leonard

Dallas -6

Nice double revenge situation for the Mavs here after losing two tightly contested contests with the Warriors earlier. In November Dallas dropped a home overtime decision and just 10 days ago the Mavericks lost at Oakland 100-97. Dallas comes into this game fresh with two days off and having only played three games in the past week.  Golden State on the other hand is playing its fourth game in the last five days. They are off a tightly contested contest yesterday at Memphis.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Wunderdog

Florida State at Wake Forest
Pick: Florida State -2

It has been several years since Wake Forest has been competitive in the ACC. They are struggling again this season at 10-12, and have dropped four straight games. Florida State owns conference road wins at Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Maryland, and certainly have the talent to slip past a struggling Demon Deacon club. Wake has trouble taking care of the ball with 309 turnovers in their 22 games, and four of their top five scorers have more turnovers than assists - a sure sign of trouble. Florida St. has been a very good road team with a 12-3 ATS mark in their last 15 vs. a team with a winning home record, and they have had success here as they are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 trips to Wake Forest. Go with Florida State.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

Kansas -3.5 over OKLAHOMA: When a coach comes out and says that this is the worst team they have ever put on the court, you can expect the players to respond with a good showing in this one. This is really a nice spot for them to get back on track as the Sooners haven't beaten them since 2005, with Kansas winning each of the last 9 in this series by at least 9 points. Oklahoma had a nice start to their big 12 season, but have faltered of late losing 4 of their last 6 conference games, including the last 2. Kansas is still one of the best teams in the country and they will figure this out. They have dominated this series and are playing a Sooner squad that may be running out of gas. Perfect spot for Kansas to get back on track with a big double digit win here.

3 UNIT PLAYS

North Carolina +7.5 over MIAMI: Sure Miami has a 10-0 home mark and they won by 27 over Duke on this floor, but the Heels are starting to figure things out and they have revenge on their minds for an earlier home loss to the Canes. The Heels are in high gear on offense right now as they have averaged 80.6 ppg in their last 5 games. I feel it will be that offense that will keep it close here. Miami has averaged 77 ppg in their last 5 games, but they are really not an explosive team and won't come up with enough points to win all that easily. The Heels have been at or near the top of the ACC for many years and are just not ready to pass the torch. They will find a way to keep it close, or maybe even pull the upset.


Texas / Oklahoma State Over 125: The Longhorns have had their problems scoring this year, but they still average 65.5 ppg at home and they will be facing an OSU squad that has allowed 75 ppg on the road this year, including 73.5 ppg in their Big 12 road games. The Longhorns should have a good showing offensively in this one. On defense Texas has been solid at home, where they have allowed 52.9 ppg. but the Cowboys do average 69 ppg on the road and they have put up 73.2 ppg in their last 5 games overall. The Cowboys did put up 85 on a very good Kansas defense and should be good for at least the mid 60's in this one, which is also about how much I expect from the Longhorns. Neither team really slows the pace as Texas is 150th in tempo, while OSU is 120th and that has me easily expcting at least 130 points out of these teams.   

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Andrew Lange

Arkansas at Vanderbilt
Play: Vanderbilt

From a situational standpoint, it doesn't get much better than a fade of Arkansas this afternoon. For starters, the Razorback are winless on the road – and with the exception of a three-point loss at Alabama, their SEC games away from Fayetteville haven't been very competitive with losses by 18, 14, and 21. Then there is the issue of coming off a win over Florida back on Tuesday. This is still a very young ball club and with a history of not being able to sustain success. And don't forget that when these two teams met back in mid-January, Arkansas won 56-33 – one of the worst losses in Vanderbilt's history. No question the Commodores remember that outing. As for Vandy, it's been ugly, no doubt. But this team continues to fight with three straight losses by 1, 4, and 1. They also lost to Kentucky on this floor by two and took Ole Miss to overtime. So the record says 2-7, but they could very easily be .500. I expect a big effort by home side for this early start affair.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Wunderdog

Pittsburgh at New Jersey
Pick: Under 5.5

This is strength against strength. Pittsburgh has gotten to 8-3 on offense. New Jersey is 6-1-0-3 thanks to their defense. But, the truth is that neither of these teams allows much in the way of goals to opposing offenses. The Penguins have given up 2.4 per game overall, and they do even better on the road where they are allowing only 2.0 per game. Over their last five, they've allowed just 1.6 per game. The Devils have given up 2.2 per game overall, including just 2.0 at home. This one is going to be about intense defense, so I like the game to stay UNDER 6 goals.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Dave Price

Cleveland Cavaliers +6

The Nuggets are getting a little too much respect on the road here. They are just 10-15 on the road this season and haven't stepped outside the Pepsi Center since Jan. 23. The Cavs have won 3 in a row SU and ATS with one of those coming against the Thunder. They have won 3 straight and 6 of 7 at home and will be hungry to avenge last month's 7-point loss at Denver. The Cleveland offense has been scoring the basketball with ease. It has tallied 115 points or more in each of its last 3 and that's a good sign as the Cavs are 8-0 ATS in home games after scoring 100 points or more in 2 straight games over the last 3 seasons. The underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 meetings. Take the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Jeff Alexander

Penn State +6.5

Plays on road underdogs or pickems that check in with 8 or more consecutive losses, provided they are playing only their 2nd game in 8 days, are 100-56 (64.6%) ATS since 1997. Penn State is 0-10 in the Big Ten, and it sees this as its best opportunity to get on the board. It lost the season's first meeting by just 4 points and I believe it has what it takes to give Nebraska all it wants and more here. The Nittany Lions are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss while the Cornhuskers are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 games following an ATS win. Take Penn State.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday February 9

Harry Bondi

CLEVELAND (+5.5) over Denver

We've often said that a key to handicapping any sport is to always remember that a team is never as good -- or as bad -- as its best or worst performance. Here, we get some tremendous value going against a Denver team that just beat a short-handed Chicago team by 32 points on Thursday night. This is the first leg of a four-game road trip for the Nuggets, who will surely be looking ahead to a date at Boston on Sunday, instead of focusing on the lowly Cavs. Cleveland has quietly won two straight and five of its last seven games overall and will catch the young Nuggets off guard here in a classic letdown situation. Take the home dog.

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