UFC 253 comes packed with fireworks from both inside the octagon and the betting lines as middleweight king Israel Adesanya settles his grudge with the unbeaten destroyer, Paulo Costa. Both fighters are explosive strikers and with ill will all but guaranteeing heated exchanges. Co-headlining are red-hot fighters Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz facing off for the vacant light heavyweight title. Let's break down these fights and see which bets we can cash.
Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Anaheim Ducks vs Nashville Predators Game 1
NHL Western Conference Finals Game 1 Preview
It's the threequel to a budding playoffs rivalry between two relatively new franchises. The Ducks won the Stanley Cup ten yeas ago and have been playoff staples since while the Preds despite not having a championship, have almost been as good. The Preds ousted the Ducks in their last two postseason meetings but the Ducks hold a 2-1 edge during this regular season.
In this matchup, the Ducks test their prolific and clutch scoring against the Predators' stifling and well-balanced defense. To the winner goes a monumental Finals appearance.
Regular Season Record: 2-1 Ducks (1 SO victory)
It took a herculean comeback for the Ducks to bounce the Oilers in seven games but they did it. They expelled the ghosts of game 7s past but still leave a lot of issues particularly in net. John Gibson enters this series with the worst save percentage (.908) among remaining goalies and got chased away from net before the halfway of the first period in game 6 last series. If the Ducks are to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals, now is the time to find his A-game.
Beyond Gibson, there is little else to criticize the Ducks on. Their defense is back to full strength led by Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen, their versatile leading d-men. Shea Theodore has been surprising. The offense, led by captain Ryan Getzlaf is firing on all cylinders. The Ducks' leading scorer has 15 points in 11 games including a five-point outburst in the Ducks' game 5 comeback. and will again need to carry the bulk of the scoring as he'll need no short of an MVP performance against the vaunted Predators' defense.
Offense wins games. Defense wins championships. This mantra is what carried the Predators all the way to their first conference finals. Led by the best defense in the league and a game-stealing goalie in Pekka Rinne, the Preds have looked unbeatable. They ousted the conference-leading Blackhawks in four games and dismantled a prime Blues team. Their 1.4 goals against per game leads the league and Rinne's .951 save percent is unreal.
If the Preds have a weakness it's their lack of scoring depth. Beyond their top line of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg, there is little scoring help. Consistent 20-goal scoer James Neal will be an x-factor along with Mike Fisher, their most experienced player. The talented defensemen led by P.K. Subban and Roman Josi will be key to generating offense especially on special teams. Other lesser known players will also have to chip in and it's usually these unheralded role players who swing the momentum of a series to the team. The Predators are at least anchored by their stalwart defense and all they need is to score when needed.
Ducks vs Predators Prediction
The Ducks showed plenty of fortitude in overcoming several deficits against the Oilers. But they're up against a more experienced and more defensively sound Predators team with a goalie that has been red-hot. The Predators will frustrate and contain Getzlaf and keep the Ducks' scoring at a minimum as they edge the Ducks to take game 1.
As slight underdogs, the Predators have decent value and are worth a bet as they may not see an accommodating price again especially if they beat the Ducks in this spot.Nashville Predators (-105) SportsInteraction
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