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Tuley-s Takes: NHL Playoffs and The Masters

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

It’s been a different kind of week at the Tuley’s Takes home office.

We put a ribbon on the NCAA Tournament, winning our last “Best Bet” with Auburn 5.5 vs. Virginia last Saturday (closed at 6, which we loved to see that we were against most other bettors) to improve to 11-5 ATS (68.75%) after going 14-6 ATS (70%) last March Madness. And even though we fell short of calling it a best bet to pad our record, I hope everyone was with us on the Over in the national championship game.

Now, we turn our attention to this week’s main attractions, the start of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday and the Masters on Thursday.

We ended the regular season with a bang, especially on Saturday when the #FollowtheMoney6 Over teams went 5-1 while the Stars, the top 1P Under team, stayed Under. I know some followers were backing off with the uncertainty of the final week of the regular season, but those who stuck it out won no matter how they were playing these. Using my parlays, I profited 5 units on the final day to put me at 56 units on 1P wagers the last three months of the season.

It’s been a wild ride, which continued long after the naysayers said it wouldn’t last. Of course, with the playoffs starting, those same critics are saying “the playoffs are different and it won’t last,” but I address that here, so let’s get to it, and then I’ll give my “takes” on the Masters.

The Stanley Cup playoffs start Wednesday and you don’t need a betting preview to tell you Tampa Bay has been the NHL’s best team this season and ran away with the Presidents’ Trophy for most points. The Lightning are the 240 favorite at William Hill to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup and followed by the San Jose Sharks at 8/1 and the Vegas Golden Knights at 8.5/1, but the odd thing about that is those two teams face off in the opening round and even odder is the Golden Knights are -115 series favorites.

Anyway, I prefer to pass on the futures to win it all and instead will concentrate on who is going to win each series and how it will go game-by-game. Now, for those of you who have been following us on Twitter @ViewFromVegas and VSiN.com, the 800-pound octopus in the room is whether we should continue betting 1st Period Over/Unders in the playoffs.

For the uninitiated or for those needing a quick refresher course, the #FollowtheMoney6 Over teams were the Lightning, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Sharks, Devils and Penguins as they were hitting better than 67% with 1st Period Overs (more than 1.5 goals scored in the first period) much of the season and thus still beating the increased vig the books were charging the deeper we got into the season. (The Dallas Stars were the best 1st Period Under team by far as you’ll see on the chart on Page 4.)

A lot of naysayers are saying that playoff hockey is different and the Overs won’t be as profitable; however, I’m not so sure the switch to playoff hockey will change this dynamic much. Teams that made the postseason by playing wide-open hockey aren’t suddenly going to go into shells. Also helping us is the fact we could see some lower vig on the 1st Period Totals as the books go with conventional wisdom, so I believe it’s worth it to see if this continues.

Here are my “Tuley’s Takes” on the opening round matchups. Lines are from William Hill (updated through Tuesday night) in order of the series starts:

Blue Jackets at Lightning

Series price: Lightning -430/Blue Jackets 350 Game 1: Lightning -230 (Over/Under 6.5) Here we have 2 FTM6 Over teams facing each other (that trend hit 83% on the season when that occurred after being as high as 90% when it was really hot) with the Lightning going a league-best 61-21 (74.4%) with 1st Period Overs. The Blue Jackets were 53-29 (64.6%), making the -180 price on the 1st Period Over in Game 1 playable (either straight or parlayed with my other preferred 1P play, the Stars Under). Best Bet: 1st Period Overs the whole series as long as we don’t go down 3 units.

Penguins at Islanders

Series price: Penguins -155/Islanders 135 Game 1: Islanders -115 (Over/Under 5.5) Pittsburgh doesn’t have home-ice advantage but is favored due to having Sidney Crosby, plus more playoff experience. Penguins 1P Overs were good to me, but they’re playing an Under team so I’ll pass unless throwing in some small parlays. Best Bet: Islanders as road underdogs in Pittsburgh in Games 3, 4 & 6 (if necessary).

Blues at Jets

Series price: Blues -125/Jets 105 Game 1: Jets -120 (Over/Under 5.5) St. Louis is another lower-seeded team in the series favorite role after making playoffs with a late run. I would look to the Jets as series underdog but price is too short and getting shorter. Best Bet: Jets as road dogs in Games 3, 4 & 6 (if necessary).

Stars at Predators

Series price: Predators -170/Stars 150 Game 1: Predators -165 (Over/Under 5) Dallas was the best 1P Under team by far and now face the No. 2 Under team, so it’s not surprising the books have juiced the 1P Under to -180 (down to -170), but I’ll start the series by playing it. The Stars are also a live series underdog with their defense and goaltending. Best Bet: Stars 165 to win series (down to 150 so grab ASAP); 1P Unders (parlay with Columbus-Tampa Bay 1st Period Over if available).

Golden Knights at Sharks

Series price: Golden Knights -115/Sharks -105 Game 1: Sharks -140 (Over/Under 6) Homer alert! Our Vegas Golden Knights open against the Sharks, a 1P Over team but I’m not as excited about that with Marc-Andre Fleury back in goal for VGK. I will probably throw the 1P Over in some parlays, but otherwise watching this series as a fan. Best Bet: 1st Period Overs in parlays with other FTM6 team.

Maple Leafs at Bruins

Series price: Bruins -150/Maple Leafs 130 Game 1: Bruins -150 (Over/Under 6)

nhl_over

You’ll quickly notice a trend that all the bettable series start Wednesday. I expect the favorites to not have much problem moving on in the ones that start Thursday. The Bruins won the regular-season series 3-1 vs. the Maple Leafs and are priced just about right (slight lean to Over as it went 2-1-1 in their games, but not going Over 6). Best Bet: Pass.

Hurricanes at Capitals

Series price: Capitals -165/Hurricanes 145 Game 1: Capitals -150 (Over/Under 5.5) I don’t have any confidence with the Hurricanes, as the Capitals won all four regular-season meetings and I don’t expect this to go any differently (Unders were 3-1 so maybe slight lean to Under, but books have shaded it down to 5.5). Best Bet: Pass.

Avalanche at Flames

Series price: Flames -220/Avalanche 190 Game 1: Flames -185 (Over/Under 6) Another mismatch in my mind with Flames sweeping the regular-season series 3-0 (Overs 2-1, but again books taking away value with Game 1 at O/U 6). Best Bet: Pass.

TULEY’S TAKE OF THE MASTERS

I don’t follow golf on a weekly basis, but I’ve had my shares of successes including giving out Dustin Johnson at 12/1 to win the 2016 U.S. Open at ESPN. com and followed that up with Henrik Stenson at 25/1 to win the British Open, and then last year here at VSiN.com, I had some close calls, especially Zach Johnson leading The Open after Friday’s second round at 75/1 and then had Tiger Woods, who held the lead on Sunday afternoon, at 20/1 along with Justin Rose, who made a late run at 17/1.

So, I get a ton of inquiries for my live longshots when the majors roll around. I like to pick a foursome to cheer for with future bets, but these can also be used for the ever-increasing contests that can be part of your wagering portfolio.

If you’re in Las Vegas, the Westgate is hosting its inaugural “First Major Golf Challenge” with an entry fee of $100 (limit three per person) with players making selections on 30 proposition wagers on the Masters. First place is 50 percent of the prize pool (after a 5% administrative fee is taken out), with 30 percent for second and 20 percent for third. Beware that the deadline to enter is 10 p.m. PT Wednesday.

This is in addition to nearly a dozen contest invites that yours truly has received this past week from online companies as well as from readers (so thanks for that!) with all sorts of formats. Here are my four price plays for this weekend (just don’t copy all four if we’re playing in the same pool!!!):

Tommy Fleetwood (20/1)

I’ve been looking forward to betting Fleetwood but should have grabbed him sooner. I was also discouraged to hear Nick Bogdanovich say on “Follow the Money” the other day that William Hill has taken a lot of tickets on Fleetwood as I don’t like having such a public underdog, but I have to bet him in case my first instincts were right.

Bryson DeChambeau (25/1)

I’ve been on DeChambeau in a few majors since he turned pro after winning both the NCAA Division I championship and U.S. Amateur in 2015. Unfortunately, I haven’t bet him in any of his five PGA Tour wins the past two years and he’s no longer a real longshot, but I’m still hoping I was just a little early in betting him to win his first major.

Matt Kuchar (40/1)

Kuchar hasn’t won a major, but he did win The Players Championship (the so-called” 5th major) in 2012 and is on the list of “best players to have never won a major,” which is often a precursor to players breaking through. His odds are more attractive than others on the list like Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm, both around 16-1.

Zach Johnson (150/1)

He’s not in the best of form, but he has won a green jacket (2007) and as he also showed in The Open last year, he can still step up and contend on any given weekend.

Good luck this weekend, and every weekend!

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