Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 14

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Teddy Covers   

San Francisco at Toronto
Play: San Francisco

It’s not hard to make a case for betting against the Blue Jays as chalk these days.  High priced offseason acquisition RA Dickey hasn’t won a game in nearly a month, allowing 17 runs in 25 innings of work over his last four outings, all Toronto defeats.  Dickey was favored in three of those four losses, just as he is today.   For a guy who was 43-55 with an ERA well over 4.00 prior to last season’s remarkable Cy Young campaign, the 2012 season is looking more and more like an aberration, not a sign of continued success to come.

Toronto has no discernible home field edge right now, 7-12 at the Rogers Centre compared to their 8-12 road mark.  From a run differential standpoint, the Blue Jays -47 ranks as the third worst in all of baseball, ahead of only the two true bottom feeders: Miami and Houston.  In other words, there is absolutely nothing fraudulent about the Blue Jays struggles.  Bettors who have faded Toronto on a nightly basis are cashing in; a bottom five team in terms of profitability.

Meanwhile, the defending champs continue to take advantage of betting market indifference towards them; ranked #3 in the NL in terms of profitability.  Their big bats are heating up right now, pounding out 23 runs while taking the final three games of their last series against Atlanta while getting legitimate contributions from everybody in the lineup.

All Barry Zito does these days is win.  The Giants are 5-2 in his seven starts this year, after winning each of his final 14 starts to close out 2012, and Zito has allowed a single earned run or less in each of his last four outings.  And yet Toronto is taking big money from the wiseguy betting syndicates today, driving this line up as high as -140 in some spots!  Not my money – wrong team favored here!

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MLB Predictions

Braves / Diamondbacks Under 9

I’m coming right back here with the UNDER as we get a higher total at 9 and a good price with +105. The Braves managed 10 runs last night, but they scored just 4 in their previous 3 games. The Arizona Diamondbacks continue to struggle scoring runs, as their 1 run gives them 12 over their last 6 games (2 runs per game). Tonight we’ve Julio Teheran on the mound for Atlanta who is 2-0 on the season with a 4.84 ERA, .319 OBA and 1.53 WHIP. Although those numbers aren’t great he is 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA over his last three starts and 2-0 with a 4.32 ERA on the road this year. Southpaw Patrick Corbin will get the start for Arizona and he is 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA, .220 OBA and 1.06 WHIP. At home he is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, and over his last 3 starts he is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Last season Corbin had average overall numbers but was 3-3 with a solid 2.92 ERA at home. Note that the UNDER is 5-1 in the Diamondbacks last 6 overall, 4-1 in their last 5 home games, and 12-5-1 in their last 18 vs a team with a winning record. The UNDER is 4-0 in Corbin’s last 4 home starts and 5-2 in his last 7 home starts with a total set between 9 and 10.5 runs. Arizona is struggling scoring runs right now, and although Atlanta had hot bats last night I expect Corbin to be able to contain them enough to help keep this game UNDER the high total.

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Joe Gavazzi

Kansas City +110

The Angels have fallen into an offensive funk once again. LAA has a .177 BA in their last 3 games. For KC last night’s 11-1 outburst against LAA should have snapped them out of their offensive funk that led to a previous 1-6 slide. Tonight, they send emerging start Guthrie to the mound. He has no losses in his last 18 starts for Kansas City. In that time, Guthrie has a personal record of 10-0 with a 2.18 ERA including 5-0 this year with a 2.28 ERA and 3-0 with a 0.42 ERA in his most recent 3 starts. After pitching a pair of quality starts, Vargas returned to the form that has seen him log a 4.26 ERA and 1.56 WHIP this season. Though it was a 6-5 win vs. Houston, Vargas allowed 5 runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 IP. With an Angles bullpen that has an AL worst 112 index, the Royal hitters should feast the entire evening.

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Rocketman

Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels
Play: Kansas City Royals 

The Kansas City Royals travel to Los Angeles to take on the Angels on Tuesday night. Kansas City is now 19-16 overall this year while the LA Angels come in with a 14-24 overall record on the season. LA Angels are 8-19 when playing at night this year. LA Angels are 11-20 this year against right handed starters. The Angels are allowing 5.5 runs per game at home this year and 6 runs per game at night this season. Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound for the Royals where he is 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA overall this year, 2-0 with a 2.88 ERA on the road this season and 3-0 with a 0.42 ERA his last 3 starts. We'll recommend a small play on Kansas City tonight! Thanks and good luck, Rocky Rocketman Sports has a 3* MLB Winner for Tuesday! Rocketman has won 15 out of 16 years overall in his history with the one losing year being less than 5 units! This is the Rocketman's 17th year in the industry! Don't miss out and win long term again!

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Will Rogers

NY Mets vs. St. Louis
Pick: St. Louis

I won a free play with the Cardinals yesterday over the Mets as they won easily, "doubling up" the visitors in a 6-3 victory.  I happen to believe St. Louis is the best team in baseball right now, so why not do it all over again?

Here are my keys to the game:

1.  Two teams going in opposite directions - The Cardinals have won 10 of 12 to surge to the top of MLB with a 24-13 record. The Mets have lost six of eight, scoring 2.6 runs per game while batting only .202 as a team.  Last night was the second straight game that they managed to produce only four hits.

2.  Homefield Advantage - The Mets have lost 10 of 13 here at Busch Stadium.  The Cardinals have lost at home only one time in May.

3.  X-Factor - This would be Cardinals starter John Gast, who makes his major league debut Tuesday.  Gast was the club's best minor league prospect, going 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA in six starts at Triple-A Memphis.  He started the year with 32 consecutive scoreless innings.

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Bryan Power

Houston vs. Detroit
Pick: Detroit -1.5

Note that this is a run line play where I'm "laying" the -1.5 with Detroit against Houston.  At the risk of stating the obvious, the Astros are atrocious. Those who though this could be a historically bad team this season look like they knew what they were talking about as Houston is 10-28 on the year, having dropped five straight and 11 of 13.  I see no reason to expect them to be competitive tonight

Houston is 0-5 this year vs. Detroit after falling 7-2 last night. In those five losses, they have been outscored 44-10, four of the losses coming by multiple runs.  The only game they were able to stay within a run of the Tigers, ironically enough, came against the starter they face today, Doug Fister.  But Fister has been solid this year (3.14 ERA in 7 starts) and has an offense to back him up (6.3 runs per game at home).

Houston is 1-19 this season when facing a team with a winning record.  They have given up, by far and away, the most runs in baseball. Opponents are averaging 6.2 per game against them this year (compared to 3.8 for Detroit), including an average of nine per the last three games.  When Lucas Harrell started against the Tigers earlier in the year, the end result was a 17-2 loss with Harrell allowing eight runs in just 4.3 innings.  This game won't be close.

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Jesse Schule

Washington vs. LA Dodgers
Pick: Washington +1.5.

The Dodgers' struggles continued last night, with a 6-2 loss to Washington in Game 1 of this series. L.A. can't seem to get anything going at the plate, and the Dodgers rank 28th in the Majors in runs scored.

Scoring has been a major problem when Clayton Kershaw has been on the mound, and they have lost his last two starts. Kershaw (3-2, 1.62 ERA) has been dominant all year, and he's allowed just four runs over his last four starts. Due to a lack of offense and a suspect bullpen, he's only won one of those starts.

The Dodgers have just two wins in their last 11 games, yet they are a hefty favorite in tonight's game with their ace on the mound.

The Nat's will hand the ball to Dan Haren, and he's coming off three straight wins. Haren (4-3, 5.17 ERA) allowed four runs on nine hits over six innings in a 5-4 win over the Tigers in his last start. Prior to that he was very sharp in a 3-1 win over Atlanta, allowing a single run on four hits over eight innings.

While Haren has been a little up and down, he's been much better lately, and a start in a pitcher-friendly park against one of worst offensive teams in baseball might be a good spot for him.

I like the Nats on the run line, I think the Nats can keep this one close, even against Kershaw.

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Greg Shaker

Cardinals -1.5

Just brief here on a very busy day. I have actually seen the Cardinals Pitcher in AAA and he is pretty darn good. His work this year comprises 32 innings of ZERO Earned Runs allowed to open his season in Memphis AAA and his Spring was very good. Enough to impress the Cards to give him a shot tonight. Gee has been inconsistent and the Cardinals have been wearing out righthanded pitching this year. Currently scoring right at 6 per 9 over their last 10 played. Cards pen finally performing well. I'm going to lay the runs verses the Mets team whose season is slipping badly right now and a worn out Bullpen that badly needs a rest but not likely to get it here in the Gateway City.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 14

Dave Essler

Twins +100

I get that it's Jake Peavy and he's done well against the Twins as a whole over his career. However, the total keeps going up and this is a Twins team that's hitting .285 over the last week and scoring almost 8 runs a game. In contrast, the White Sox are hitting .231 over that time frame and averaging less than four runs a game. This line is begging for people to fade the Twins, in particular Correia. However, his WHIP this season is a nice 1.20. What sticks out more to me is who he's done well against. His last three games have been against Boston, Cleveland, and Texas, and he's already beaten the Tigers. Peavy already pitched against the Twins THIS season, and lost 2-1. The key thing there is that there's recent familiarity, and my oh my how things change. In that game (obviously in Chicago) the White Sox were -170, so what's really changed? Are the White Sox not as good as we thought they'd be (I think so, getting older) or are the Twins better than we thought they'd be (I never think the Twins will suck when healthy and obviously managed well). Add to that the fact that it's the Twins with the better pen both lately and all season long, really, and at EV at home we (I) will bet on the Twins.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 14

Ross Benjamin

Kansas City vs. Los Angeles
Play Under 8.5

The Angels starter Justin Vargas enters tonight in very good form posting a 2.78 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his last 3 starts. Vargas has seen 3 of his 4 starts versus the Royals go under the total since the start of the 2010 season. In those 4 starts Vargas posted terrific numbers with a 2.08 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Vargas has seen 15 of his 19 career home team starts go under the total versus opponents who average 3 walks or less per game. The Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie has been absolutely lights out over his last 3 starts posting a microscopic 0.42 ERA. Since the start of the 2010 Guthrie has been rock solid in his 4 starts versus the Angels with a 2.38 ERA and an outstanding 0.86 WHIP. Guthrie has seen 27 of his 38 career road team starts go under the total versus an opponent with a .330 or less on-base-percentage on the season. Play on this game to go under the total.

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Dave Price

Kansas City Royals +112

The Royals are showing value in the underdog role with Jeremy Guthrie on the hill. The right-hander is 5-0 (6-1 on the money line) with an ERA of 2.28 on the season. The Royals have won each of his last 4 starts, and he's been nearly unhittable in his last 3, posting a 0.42 ERA. The Royals are 10-2 in Guthrie's last 12 starts as an underdog. The Angels are 5-11 in their last 16 overall, 1-5 in their last 6 home games and 3-10 in their last 13 games versus a right-handed starter. Take Kansas City.

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Jeff Alexander

Tigers -1.5 -129

With yesterday's 7-2 victory, the Tigers improved to 5-0 versus Houston this season. These wins have come by an average of 6.8 runs with all but one covering the run line. Detroit lit Harrell up for 8 earned runs in 4 1-3 innings on its way to a 17-2 victory earlier this month, and I expect it to get to him again. Houston hasn't just had problems with the Tigers. It's 1-19 on the season versus teams that have a winning record and has lost these games by an average of 3.8 runs.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday, May 14

Steve Janus

Chicago White Sox -110

The White Sox are showing some amazing value here as a small road favorite. Chicago will send out Jake Peavy, who has been one of the few bright spots for this team in 2013. Peavy is 4-1 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.060 WHIP in six starts. He's been even better of late, posting a 2.21 ERA over his last three starts. Minnesota's Kevin Correia has pitched well so far, but he's shown signs of losing his touch. He's failed to pitch past the 5th inning of each of his last two starts and during that stretch has allowed 7 earned runs on 15 hits. Adding even more value here is the strong history Peavy has had against the Twins. He's 6-3 with a 2.87 ERA over 12 starts and has allowed a total of 4 earned runs over his last three starts (19 innings).

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SPORTS WAGERS

Texas -107 over OAKLAND

Despite winning last night, the A’s are a team that is going to continue to go backwards because of an extremely weak hitting line-up. The A’s have a first baseman that is hitting .143 and four other regulars that are all hitting under .250. Oakland’s best hitter is Josh Donaldson (.301) but Donaldson is a career .251 hitter so there is likely regression coming from him too. You really have to admire and respect a guy who shows solid growth and posts career-best pinpoint control at such an advanced age. Oh... wait, it’s Bartolo Colon we’re talking about, a 40-year-old pitcher that has never seen a hamburger he didn’t like. Colon was crushed in his last start in Cleveland. His ERA is up to 4.57 and he’s allowed four jacks over his past two starts. In four home starts, Colon’s ERA is 4.26 and his xERA is 4.96. Colon will have some decent starts because of that pinpoint control but he’s a risk every time he takes the hill and he’s also extremely overvalued in this spot against the Rangers and Derek Holland.

We’re not sure the oddsmakers realize just how good Derek Holland is. Not only is Holland an intense, focused and determined pitcher that wants to thrive more than anyone, no pitcher works harder to improve his skills and it’s paying off. Over his last six starts, Holland has been taken yard just one time. He’s allowed two runs or fewer in five of his seven starts. Holland has a BAA of .222, a WHIP of 1.01, a groundball bias profile and 43 K’s in 49 frames. These are the seeds of an elite pitcher with outstanding skills right across the board, yet Derek Holland is being priced in the same range as #3 and #4 starters. Buy low my friends. 


MINNESOTA +103 over Chicago

The White Sox are six games under .500 Their 123 runs scored are dead last in the AL and only ahead of the Marlins 108 runs scored in the entire league. The South Side is favored here because Jake Peavy comes in with strong past credentials to go along with a 3.03 ERA this season. He also has four wins in six starts and to his credit Peavy has 45 K’s and a 1.06 WHIP. However, he’s also been dealing with back spasms recently. His high strikeout rate likely will erode some since his 8.5% swinging strike rate is well less than the 11-13% marks he regularly posted at his peak. With a nagging back problem, Peavy may be good for six innings here if everything goes well but baseball is a nine inning game. 

Kevin Correia has a favorable start here vs the White Sox. Correia has made four home starts in his young career as a member of the Twins, three of which has been pure quality. In two of those starts, he shut down good offenses (Rangers and Tigers). Today's opposing offense is the weakest in the AL, as the White Sox have just a .227 BA and are averaging only 3.4 runs per game. If the game is close heading to the final three innings, the Twins chances of winning increase greatly because of Minnesota’s superior hitting and a superior bullpen. In fact, Chicago’s bullpen has an ugly 1.42 WHIP to go along with an xERA of 3.93 while the Twinkies pen has a 1.17 WHIP to go along with a 3.50 xERA. The Twins have won six of 10 and they’re hitting .270 over that span while the South Side has Adam Dunn. Nuff said. Wrong side favored.


Cleveland -1½ +144 over PHILADELPHIA

Scott Kazmir is working on a three start pure quality start streak, which was highlighted by a 10 K performance his last time out against Oakland at Progressive Field. In this one, Kazmir visits the Phillies, who have been struggling to hit left-handed pitching (.220 BA against). Kazmir's surface stats—4.87 ERA and 1.43 WHIP—do not look appetizing, yet his 3.54 xERA, high strikeout rate and trending groundball bias profile are signs that this may be a comeback year. Over his last 12 innings covering two starts, Kazmir has allowed just 10 hits while fanning 17 batters. Remember, Kazmir threw 11 scoreless innings in the spring while leading the staff with 13 strikeouts aty one point before a minor injury sidelined him just before the start of the season. Prior to that, Kazmir had made one start in two years and here’s what he had to say about that, “I had time to take a step back and go back to the drawing board and kind of figure out what came naturally to me,' said Kazmir. 'With time off, it really helped me out. I was able to correct myself”. Kazmir made undisclosed mechanical adjustments and has gained 10 mph on his fastball. Kazmir looks great out there and he’s gaining more confidence with each passing start. This is a dangerous pitcher throwing for a strong hitting team and that’s a good combination.

Jonathan Pettibone comes in with a 2-0 record in his first four major league starts and he brings a respectable 3.63 ERA with him. Now is the time to sell high because at this park, he’s numbers are in for a big time correction. In those four starts, Pettibone has faced the Pirates and Marlins at home and the Mets and Giants on the road. That’s about the easiest four-game stretch he’ll ever see. A look under the hood reveals that Pettibone’s xERA is 6.23. In his last start he walked four batters while striking out just one and anything similar to that here and he’ll get buried. Pettibone has faced two weak hitting clubs at Citizen Banks Field and he’s pitched two games at two different pitcher’s parks. Pettibone is eventually going to pay the price for his unsustainable 83% strand rate and this is as good a spot as any to cash in on it.

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SPORTS WAGERS

INDIANA -5½ over New York

The Knicks come into a pivotal Game 4 tonight in complete turmoil. For starters, this visitor, which has already struggled mightily on offense in the playoffs, has several key components battling various ailments and injuries. J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin have been listed as questionable since both missed the last two practices after being ill. Iman Shumpert, who played 37 minutes in Game 3, also missed the last practice with a sore left knee and will not be 100% entering this crucial contest. Lastly, Amare Stoudemire made a return in Game 3 and played well in his nine minutes on the court but has been ruled as out for Game 4. Even if he does make a surprise appearance, don’t expect anything more than 10 to 15 minutes of court time for S.T.A.T. Furthermore, Tyson Chandler has not so discretely called out Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith for turning away from the concept of team basketball, instead reverting to the isolation-heavy offense that defined their tenure in Denver. The Pacers on the other hand are playing the brand of team basketball that Tyson has pleaded for Carmelo and J.R. to start to play. The Pacers are built to defend teams that jack up shots from the perimeter, and that is what they have done every game, save for the second half of Game 2.

Importantly, the Knicks don’t have any true low post threat, unless Carmelo starts backing down his man. Tyson Chandler hasn’t been his usual bouncy self near the rim who converts on countless putbacks, tip-ins, and alley-oop chances. His range outside the paint is non-existent and Roy Hibbert has done a masterful job defending him so far in this series. Roy Hibbert and David West are simply too much for the Knicks to handle down low in the same way that Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have proven to be too much for the Thunder front-court. Hibbert and West combined to go for 35 points and 24 rebounds in Game 3. They alone had more rebounds than the entire New York Knicks starting lineup, and that doesn’t even begin to include the strong rebounding efforts of Paul George, who has become a nightly triple-double threat in these playoffs. Lastly, we should mention that the Pacers are undefeated in the playoffs at home, and have won every game so far by double digits. Thus, in Game 4, expect the Pacers to again clamp down on the Knicks in another low-scoring affair. The Knicks are a tired looking team right now that is too banged up, both mentally and physically to compete at the Fieldhouse.

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SPORTS WAGERS

L.A. vs. San Jose (Series)

LOS ANGELES -137 over San Jose

It’s often been said that the toughest round in the NHL playoffs is the first round and the Kings may have had the most difficult assignment of them all, having to face a very talented and dangerous Blues’ squad. Not only did the Kings fall behind 2-0 but let’s not forget they went on to win the next four games. There is not another team in these playoffs that had the ability to beat the Blue Notes in four straight games. If the NHL were in a 16-team playoff format, that being 1 versus 16, 2 versus 15, etc,..it is quite conceivable to have seen the Blue Notes and Kings playing for the Stanley Cup in the Finals. After the Blue Notes lost game five, Blues Coach Ken Hitchcock said, “We played great, probably our best game of the season.” Think about that for a second. The Blues, according to their coach, played their best game of the year and lost. Now the Kings get to start this round at home, where they have won 10 straight. L.A. is not only peaking again at the right time, they have their swagger and determination back. This team may even be better than last year’s Stanley Cup squad and they have not lost any desire. After defeating the hard-nosed Blue Notes, L.A. takes a big step down in class when facing these grossly overvalued Sharks. 

San Jose is getting a whole lot of credit for defeating the Canucks in four straight. We say big deal. That series could’ve gone either way. Every game was close except one and Vancouver was in a position to win the other three. The Canucks took it to the Sharks for extended stretches and that’s without the Sedin twins producing anything. San Jose is not nearly as tough as the Blues, not mentally, not physically and certainly not talent wise either.  The Sharks have a long history of bowing out of the playoffs once the going gets tough and we can guarantee you the going is going to get very tough in this series. Antti Niemi had a great series against Vancouver but don’t expect a repeat. Despite what the numbers say and what you might read somewhere else, Niemi is an average goaltender while Jonathan Quick has been nothing but pure money in the playoffs for two years running. From where we stand, this series is a complete mismatch. The Sharks have some scorers but they lack the key role players, they lack defense and they lack the grit it takes to advance. The Kings lack nothing. This is an outfit that is on a current 20-6 playoff run and there is little chance of this soft playoff foe getting in their way. The Sharks 7-day layoff won’t help either. Kings in Game 1 and Kings in the series in four straight, maybe five.


Ottawa vs. PITTSBURGH (Series)

Ottawa +251 over PITTSBURGH

The first round was highly entertaining with every series aside from Chicago/Minnesota being close in terms of the final scores and the quality of each teams’ play. One could argue that the Penguins were the luckiest (besides Chicago, who was not lucky just way better) of all to advance. Had the Islanders had anything resembling a goaltender, the Penguins would be watching the rest of these playoffs from the rail. Five on five, the Isles dominated the Penguins in every game, even the losses. Evgeni Nabokov could not come up with one big save the entire series and ended up with an embarrassing save percentage of .842. The Penguins didn’t win that series, they escaped that series by the hair on their chinny chin chins. The same fate does not await the Penguins in this series. Craig Anderson is rock solid and may just be the NHL’s premier netminder. He doesn’t even have to be great for the Senators to win this series. All Anderson has to be is good because the Penguins are not going to get the same opportunities or same soft goals that they got against the Islanders.

The Penguins have some serious weaknesses on defense and in net. They were often caught running around in their own end for prolonged stretches in every game and the Islanders turned those mistakes into offense. The Senators can do the same. Sure, the Pens are loaded offensively and without question, they have the league’s most dangerous power-play. However, the Senators are an extremely sound team that rarely makes mistakes. Every player has a role and plays it to near perfection. The Senators methodically wore down the Canadiens period by period and game by game. They got stronger as the series progressed and finished them off with an impressive 6-1 thrashing at the Bell Center. The Senators are not as offensively talented as the Islanders and they don’t have a superstar center like John Tavaras, but what they do have is depth throughout, a structured system that works, a superstar defenseman, a great goaltender and the ability and confidence to beat anyone. The Penguins are not an easy out but they are not built for playoff hockey like the Senators are. Lastly, the price on this series is completely ludicrous because the Senators have an equal chance of advancing to the next round. Ottawa has bene undervalued the entire season but never more so than in this series. With that, we’ll bet them in both Game 1 and in the series. Profit potential in this matchup is huge.

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