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The fish that didn't save Nashville

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

A catfish, a nod to Nashville's southern roots, makes an appearance on the ice during Game 1.
© USA Today Sports Images

Rest a catfish on ice, chill a goose-egg for 37 minutes, all part a recipe for victory for the hungry Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final! 

NHL: Penguins go 37 minutes without a shot, still win 5-3!

A sneaky Nashville Predators fan tossed a catfish on the ice in hopes of turning the tide after Pittsburgh jumped to a 3-0. (What do you expect from fans of Southern cuisine?) It almost worked. Ultimately, the Penguins ate it up.

Pittsburgh (-160) 5, Nashville 3

  • Shots: Nashville 26, Pittsburgh 12

If you didn't watch the game, you might be shocked to learn Pittsburgh went from very late in the first period to 16:53 into the third period without getting off a single shot. Better here to break down shot count by periods.

Shots by Period

  • First Period: Nashville 11, Pittsburgh 8
  • Second Period: Nashville 9, Pittsburgh 0
  • Third Period: Nashville 6, Pittsburgh 4

Nashville got the best of play through the first 10 minutes. But a loss of focus and some costly mistakes allowed explosive Pittsburgh to take advantage at 15:32, 16:37, and 19:43 of the first period for a stunning 3-0 lead. (The catfish made its appearance with 16:40 left in the second period).

From that point on, Pittsburgh tried unsuccessfully to sit on that big advantage. Nashville would come all the way to force a tie at 13:29 of the third period. Pittsburgh finally got a shot off…its first in 37:09 on the game clock…and made it count for a 4-3 lead. An empty-netter padded the final margin. 

That’s five goals on just 12 shots! Four of 11 against a goalie. 

Both teams are so good that neither side can take anything for granted. Game 2 will be Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Nashville should garner some “must-win” support from bettors, likely causing a drop from Monday’s -160 closing line for the home favorite. Game 3 won’t be until Saturday in Nashville. 

NBA: MVP prop not creating buzz yet

Las Vegas sports books petitioned gaming control for the right to post odds on his year’s NBA Finals MVP choice. Unfortunately, this might have been a bad year to make that option available. 

Perceptions of it being a “three-horse race” are so strong that it’s difficult to price the odds in a way that would attract betting interest while protecting sports books. 

Favorites to win NBA Finals MVP (win equivalent in parenthesis)

  • Kevin Durant 9/5 (36%)
  • LeBron James 2/1 (33%)
  • Stephen Curry 2/1 (33%)

The big three gobble up just over 100% of win potential already. Futures are priced with a form of hidden vigorish that pushes win potential over 100%. When the favorites are that obvious, it’s not like an establishment can make prices much more appealing. They need money lost on losers to pay off the money won by winners. A price of 2/1 does that in a three-horse race. 

Say you move everyone from near 2/1 to 3/1. Money invested in the two eventual losers won’t cover money paid out to the right choice. Sports books have to hope there’s a lot of interest in the long shots…which is less likely when the long shots would have to beat out all those superstars to win the award. 

MVP Long shots

  • Draymond Green 8/1 (11%)
  • Kyrie Irving 10/1 (9%)
  • Kevin Love 20/1 (5%)
  • Klay Thompson 25/1 (4%)
  • Tristan Thompson 100/1 (1% or below on the rest)
  • Andre Igoudala 200/1
  • J.R. Smith 200/1
  • Kyle Korver 300/1

Kyrie Irving may have some good games. Is he going to have more good games than LeBron James if Cleveland pulls off the series upset? Draymond Green has already proven he can be a difference-maker with a title on the line. But are BOTH Durant and Curry going to shoot so inconsistently that a relative role player sneaks through in a Warriors series victory? 

As Jimmy Vaccaro discussed with Gill Alexander on “A Numbers Game” Monday, Cleveland fans get more return betting on the Cavs to win the series at plus-210, then they would betting LeBron to win the MVP. And LeBron’s probably only going to win the MVP if Cleveland wins the series. Or Cavs fans can take the points in all the road games, and bet near pick-em at home…creating the opportunity to profit on the series even if the Cavs can’t win it outright. 

If you’re a Golden State fan, would you rather lay -250 to win the title…or try to guess which of Durant or Curry shoots you there? 

Look for more props to go up in Las Vegas between now and tip-off, and for more sharp action to hit the board if public money drives the lines of -7 and 226.5 any higher. Jimmy alerted Gill that “smarts” are waiting for better numbers for their traditional “dog and Under” postseason preferences.

College Football: Games of the Year are up!

We hope you caught Monday’s announcement of the “Game of the Year” lines that are now available at the South Point. If you missed “My Guys in the Desert” with Brent Musburger, Ron Flatter, and the VSiN oddsmaker brain trust, you can see the replay here. A complete listing of the openers is available in this article by Matt Youmans.

We talked yesterday about the ability for handicappers to begin the process of building “market” Power Ratings based on these numbers. We’ll let “the smarts” make some investments before doing that formally on these pages. Some quick notes for you:

  • South Point sports book director Chris Andrews has Ohio State as his top power-rated team. The full composite of the market may ultimately disagree with that. There was an early move against the Buckeyes when their opener of -8 over Oklahoma was bet down to 7. Vinny Magliulo mentioned that he has Alabama as his top power-rated team. Cold hard cash will be voting soon!
  • Chris told VSiN City he believes Penn State deserves the strongest home field value, which he rates at 5.5 points. That’s a key reason why the Nittany Lions opened at -14 over Michigan in that much-anticipated Big 10 matchup. Penn State opened plus 8.5 at Ohio State in another projected superpower showcase.
  • Looks like Michigan and Georgia are seen as even teams right off the bat. Both are 3-point favorites over the Florida Gators on neutral fields. Michigan in its season opener that will be played down in Arlington, TX…Georgia in the annual “cocktail party” in Jacksonville.
  • *Chris announced on twitter that additional “Games of the Year” will be coming soon. Those will lift the grand total to near 100 games available for live betting well before the season starts. 

More on the college football markets through the summer as developments warrant.

MLB: Mike Trout to miss significant time with torn ligament in thumb

Horrible news for Los Angeles Angels fans, and baseball fans in general. In the midst of a “Ruthian” season, Mike Trout was placed on the Disabled List with a torn ligament in his thumb that will require surgery. (Word broke late Monday that Trout would be out 6-8 weeks.)

Trout is batting .337 in 2017, with a fantastic .461 on-base percentage and stellar .742 slugging percentage. He had hit 29% of his team’s home runs this season (16 of 55) when he got hurt.

The Angels fell to just below .500 in the AL West standings in the game Trout suffered his injury. How bad will they be without their superstar? The offense was only averaging 4.0 runs per game with the leading MVP candidate batting in the heart of their order! Betting markets docked them heavily Monday. Los Angeles closed in the minus 115-123 range at home against mediocre Atlanta. In their prior three home games before a long Eastern swing, the Angels closed -209, -184, and -174 against the Chicago White Sox. 

LAA has a chance to get its bearings this week with a homestand against Atlanta and Minnesota. But June is going to be a bear. The Angels have a home-and-home with the hot New York Yankees, have to visit powerhouse Houston and resurgent Boston, then will have a four-game home-and-home with the cross-town rival Los Angeles Dodgers late in the month. 

Horrible time for Trout to get hurt if you’re an Angels fan. Smart bettors look to exploit opportunities created by key injuries. We’ll continue to monitor how the market and the Angels deal with the challenges ahead. 

MLB: Cleaning up “pollution” caused by home/road splits

Yesterday we talked about how short-term records in one-run decisions can create illusions in the standings. We should note that the Angels were 11-8 in one-run games through the weekend, but below .500 otherwise. Now a huge bat will be missing late in close games.

But a different potential polluter is actually smiling on the Angels. After wrapping up that weekend series in Miami, the Halos had played 30 road games, but only 23 home games. At the end of the season, all 30 Major League teams will be dead even in home/road split. But in any given snapshot during the season, you’re going to see some teams that have been temporarily penalized in the standings because they’ve played more road games than home games, and some teams that probably aren’t as good as they look because they’ve played more home games than road games. 

Noticeable “roadblocks” through Monday’s action

The Chicago White Sox had played 29 road games and 21 home games

Seattle had played 30 road games and 22 home games

Detroit had played 29 road games and 22 home games

The Los Angeles Angels had played 30 road games and 24 home games

San Diego had played 29 road games and 24 home games

Atlanta had played 27 road games and 22 home games

The White Sox haven’t been getting much respect in the line this season. But after winning as a home dog vs. Boston Monday afternoon, they moved to 24-26 in the standings despite having all of those extra road games on the early schedule. Might they be a sleeper in the AL Central? From that list, CWS (plus 155), Seattle (plus 140), and San Diego (plus 190) all won as dis-respected Monday dogs. 

Those enjoying “home cooking” through Monday’s action

  • Minnesota had played 29 home games and 19 road games (!!!)
  • Houston had played 30 home games and 22 road games
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers had played 29 home games and 23 road games
  • Arizona had played 29 home games and 24 road games

Minnesota’s played 10 more home games than road games! We can’t say Houston is any sort of pretender, because they’re winning everywhere (including in Minnesota yesterday). Arizona? Let’s see if they still look like a playoff contender when that home/road split evens out.

Two days into this project, the Minnesota Twins are starting to look like a pretender. They’re 6-3 in one-run games while also playing a very home friendly schedule. We already talked about the White Sox. The Chisox are right at .500 for the season in games not decided by one run…and have a bunch of home games coming their way. 

More on this “cleaning the windshield” theme tomorrow.

Thanks for spending some time with us Tuesday here in VSiN City. If you have any sports betting questions, or ideas for future topics, please drop us a note. You can subscribe for morning email delivery every weekday by clicking here. Breaking news and programming notes are available on our twitter feed. You can follow that by clicking here.

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