Winnipeg advances to battle the Vegas Golden Knights! Previews of both NHL conference championship series plus Cavaliers-Celtics and bonus banter as we finish out the week in VSiN City.
NHL Playoffs: Winnipeg wins on the road AGAIN to knock out Nashville in Game 7
Five of the seven games in this dramatic Western Conference second-round series were won by the road team, in an NHL postseason where visitors have been cashing tickets left and right. Let’s run the final Thursday numbers.
Winnipeg (plus 130) 5, Nashville 1 (Nashville wins series 4-3)
Shots: Winnipeg 24, Nashville 37
Power Plays: Winnipeg 0/1, Nashville 1/3
Not quite as one-sided as the final score makes it sound, but that heavy shot count advantage for Nashville overstates the Predator’s competitiveness, too. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was pulled just 10 minutes in after giving up two very cheap goals. The hosts would get within 2-1 by late in the first period. But you knew the Jets had the better goaltender and the ability to protect a lead.
Amazing that road dogs could dominate a series in which home favorites were so pricey. Home ice carried a lot of weight in the market. Road teams won scoreboard in this series 28-16. This is why you have to be very careful laying chalk in the NHL playoffs. And you don’t game the system by putting home favorites in money line parlays!
Winnipeg’s become a favorite of sharps through the postseason. That’s one of the key reasons the Westgate opened the Jets as -160 series favorites over the Vegas Golden Knights (though that price didn’t last long!). That series begins Saturday. We’ve got one we should talk about first…as we take the NHL conference finals in calendar order.
NHL Playoffs: Eastern finals featuring Tampa Bay and Washington begin Friday night
Tampa Bay has won eight of 10 games so far in the 2018 postseason, advancing past New Jersey and Boston by identical 4-1 counts. Coasting past the Devils wasn’t a surprise. Bouncing Boston so quickly, particularly after dropping the opener at home was impressive indeed. Washington outlasted Columbus and Pittsburgh in six games each. Washington was a big dog in the first round after dropping its first two games at home, then opened as a series underdog to the Penguins.
Here’s a recap of regular season performances in the key indicator stats we’ve been using to outline matchups.
Washington at Tampa Bay (8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports)
Goal Differential: Washington plus 20, Tampa Bay plus 60
5x5 Goal Differential: Washington plus 16, Tampa Bay plus 49
Goal-per-Game Ranking: Washington #9, Tampa Bay #1
Goals-Allowed-per-Game: Washington #16, Tampa Bay #13
Series Price: Tampa Bay -180, Washington plus 160
Game 1 Price: Tampa Bay -180, total of 6
Big edges for the Lightning in everything that matters except for goal prevention…which is still a slight edge in a matchup of defensive disappointments. The Over/Under for the first game is six because these offenses outclass these defenses. Tampa Bay has earned its chalk in the numbers.
The Game 1 price matches the series prices, which is common in this range. Tampa Bay will be about 63% to 37% to win each home game (accounting for vigorish with a -170 vig-free estimate). Will be closer to a coin flip in Washington.
NHL Playoffs: Western finals with well-rested Vegas vs. Winnipeg begin Saturday
Just in the act of writing this report for you…we can relay that early money came flooding in on VGK Thursday evening. Westgate was first up with Winnipeg -160 to win the series. That dropped to -150 quickly. The South Point tweeted out not long after that it opened at Winnipeg -140 according to a tweet from Chris Andrews. Be sure you watch VSiN programming Friday for the latest word. A very interesting series from the market perspective because a Las Vegas-based team is involved in a huge professional sports playoff attraction.
Vegas Golden Knights at Winnipeg (8 p.m. ET on NBC)
Goal Differential: VGK plus 44, Winnipeg plus 59
5x5 Goal Differential: VGK plus 18, Winnipeg plus 30
Goal-per-Game Ranking: VGK #5, Winnipeg #2
Goals-Allowed-per-Game: VGK #8, Winnipeg #5
Series Price: Winnipeg -150, VGK plus 130
Game 1 Price: Winnipeg -150, total of 6 (Under -120)
Both teams were amazing stories all season long. Vegas got more publicity because of its location. Manitoba isn’t exactly on the media radar. But you can see above that the Jets won every indicator category. Then Winnipeg knocked out the more impressive second-round opponent. Will the long rest break be enough to equalize for the Cinderella from Sin City?
Sharp hockey bettors have won with both all season and during the playoffs. Winnipeg is seen as the superior team by the most respected market influences.
Golf: Now you know why Sawgrass futures looked so friendly! Twenty-six players within two strokes of the lead after Round 1 of the Players Championship
Anything can happen at the Players Championship. Sawgrass is a course that basically eliminates NOBODY up front because any style can thrive here. Futures prices appeared relatively friendly through the week, with the co-favorites paying within arm’s reach of 15-1. Now you know why. We’re 25% of the way through the event, and 26 players are still within two strokes of the lead!
6-under: Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Alex Noren, and Chesson Hadley
5-under: Six golfers, including defending champion Si-Woo Kim
4-under: A massive 14-way tie that includes serious threats like Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Henrick Stenson, and Sergio Garcia
Some big names well off the early pace…
Tied for #55: Rory McIlroy at -1
Tied for #69: Tiger Woods at plus 1
Tied for #108: Jordan Spieth at plus 3
Tied for #139: Phil Mickelson at plus 7 (only two golfers worse on the day)
Jeff Sherman of the Westgate tweeted out updated futures prices after the opening round was complete.
Dustin Johnson 5/1
Patrick Cantlay 12/1
Jon Rahm 14/1
Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Alex Noren, and Matt Kuchar 16/1
Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, and Webb Simpson 20/1
Chesson Hadley 25/1
Billy Horschel and Si-Woo Kim 30/1
Tiger Woods 100/1
Many of those are in line with the Betfair Exchange numbers internationally. These were the numbers as of this writing Thursday night. You can get fresh “live” numbers by clicking this link now or any time throughout the day.
Dustin Johnson: bet one to win $5.80, risk $6 to win $1 that he won’t win
Patrick Cantlay: bet one to win $16, risk $16.50 to win $1 that he won’t win
Jason Day: bet one to win $15, risk $16.50 to win $1 that he won’t win
Jon Rahm: bet one to win $16, risk $17 to win $1 that he won’t win
Henrick Stenson: bet one to win $16.50, risk $17 to win $1 that he won’t win
Alex Noren: bet one to win $18, risk $18.50 to win $1 that he won’t win
Matt Kuchar: bet one to win $17.50, risk $18.50 to win $1 that he won’t win
Justin Rose: bet one to win $21, risk $22 to win $1 that he won’t win
Sergio Garcia: bet one to win $24, risk $27 to win $1 that he won’t win
Si Woo Kim: bet one to win $37, risk $41 to win $1 that he won’t win
Rory McIlroy: bet one to win $54, risk $59 to win $1 that he won’t win
Tiger Woods: bet one to win $99, risk $119 to win $1 that he won’t win
Justin Thomas: bet one to win $99, risk $119 to win $1 that he won’t win
Rickie Fowler: bet one to win $119, risk $449 to win $1 that he won’t win
Jordan Spieth: bet one to win $169, risk $499 to win $1 that he won’t win
Phil Mickelson bet one to win $1,000, no offering that he won’t win
Watch VSiN broadcasts throughout the week for the latest market developments in golf’s “fifth major.”
MLB: Yankees finally lose after rallying to tie from 4-0 down Thursday against Red Sox
Nothing wrong with a 17-2 record over 19 games, as New York drops just its second game of the past few weeks. Boston is happy to avoid a sweep, moving back into a first-place tie with NYY at 26-11. We’re looking at the very real possibility this season of a Wildcard team reaching 100 wins.
Boston (plus 115) 5, NY Yankees 4
Total Bases Plus Walks: Boston 20, NY Yankees 12
Starting Pitchers: Rodriguez 5 IP, 0 ER, Sabathia 4 IP, 4 ER
Bullpen: Boston 4 IP, 4 ER, NY Yankees 5 IP, 1 ER
The Yankees didn’t do much with the bats…five singles and seven walks! Got to four runs anyway. Boston had a pair of homers, and a pair of doubles, but just squeaked by. Good, but not perfect night for the Yankees bullpen even though their studs didn’t see action. Dellin Betances got the loss by allowing an eighth inning homer to J.D. Martinez.
Boston begins a weekend series in Toronto Friday night. The Yankees host Oakland.
NBA Playoffs: Cleveland-Boston in the Eastern finals begins Sunday
We won’t be back with you until Monday here in the newsletter. So let’s run our key indicator stats for the Cavs-Celtics series that begins Sunday. We’ll save the Golden State-Houston numbers until Monday’s report because we’ll be back before that one starts.
Cleveland at Boston (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC Sports)
Offensive Efficiency: Cleveland #5, Boston #18
Defensive Efficiency: Cleveland #29, Boston #1
Rebound Rate: Cleveland #22, Boston #13
Made Treys per Game: Cleveland 12.0, Boston 11.5
Series Price: Cleveland -300, Boston plus 240
Game 1 Price: Cleveland -1, total of 203.5
As we say every round, Cleveland is obviously going to play better than those numbers! Defense was still a concern in the Indiana series, hidden by the exceedingly slow pace. It was in the Toronto series as well until the tank job finale from the Raptors. Don’t assume that Cleveland “must” have started playing good defense because the Cavs reached the league’s Final Four. Cleveland’s defending better than #29 would suggest, but still at a sub-par level.
Cleveland’s offensive efficiency has been off the charts because neither Indiana nor Toronto could stop LeBron James in a half court game. Cleveland scored 128 points on 91 possessions in Game 2, 128 in 93 possessions in Game Three.
The Cavs lost rebounding in three of the four Toronto games, winning only the finale. All told, the Cavs will have the much superior offense to Boston, but defense and rebounding will be a tougher call.
One key to watch…Boston’s 3-point defense. That’s been a strength all season, and definitely derailed Philadelphia in the last round. Can Boston still defend the arc with peak intensity while containing LeBron on his drives? That issue will probably determine the point spread angle in this series. Cleveland has the horses to advance. It will probably need trey production to cover spreads.
NBA Playoffs: Updating our estimated “market” Power Ratings
We do this every Friday (and more often if needed). Based on the early lines already posted, we get this for the final four.
90: Golden State
We use a standard three points for home-court advantage. It could turn out that the market will prefer four in these matchups. For now, we assume that Houston -2 at home means Golden State by 1 on a neutral court (and at least -4 at Oracle in Games 3-4 next week). And that Cleveland -1 on the road would mean -4 on a neutral court (and around -7 at home for Games 3-4 next week).
The West winner is likely well clear of Cleveland, destined to be a comfortable home favorite and a short road favorite in the NBA Finals.
A lot of basketball to be played before then. We look forward to covering all the NBA and NHL conference championship action for you here in VSiN City. See you again Monday to recap the weekend.
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