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: Ottawa Senators vs Pittsburgh Penguins Game 2
NHL Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 Preview
It's getting harder to see the Senators as wily underdogs. Saturday night, they took out the defending champions on their own ice. The Penguins were 2-1 favourites and consensus picks to beat the Sens in the series but that wasn't the case in game 1 when the Senators made the most of their scoring opportunities and won. If that was an indicator, this series will be much tighter than lines indicate. The Pens hope to prove game 1 was an aberration as they will again be decided favourites for game 2.
Series: 1-0 Senators
The Senators defeated both the Bruins and Rangers in earlier rounds, two teams with Stanley Cup Finals pedigrees but against the actual champions, the Penguins, they were still seen as substantial underdogs. Saturday night, they took it to Pittsburgh outshooting them and outhitting them. The Sens also made Pittsburgh pay with their giveaways and won the transitions most evident when Bobby Ryan scored on a breakaway overtime winner.
Ryan has come alive in the postseason recording his second overtime winner and third game-winner. Ryan has 11 points in 13 playoff games and is peaking at the right time in the season following a disastrous regular season that saw him record his fewest goals and points in a full season. Players like Ryan and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who opened the scoring for the Sens, are the reason the Sens keep finding success with opportunistic scoring at the right time. They also started better than Pittsburgh and didn't let up even with the Penguins playing better towards the end. They'll still be sizable underdogs for game 2 but the underestimation only fuels them.
Concerns for Sidney Crosby's concussion issues still surround the Penguins but at the moment they'll have to figure out the Senators. The Pens started a bit rocky, made costly mistakes, and couldn't bury their open chances but that's "playoff hockey" as Crosby stated. The Pens will shake it off and continue being favourites in game 2. Their turnovers aside, the Pens also need to win more faceoffs and get their powerplay running again. They went 0 for 5 on the man advantage including a 5-on-3.
Whether it was just a "fluke" the Pens couldn't convert on so many scoring chances or goalie Craig Anderson just has their number will be seen come 2 and oddsmakers are leaning more on the former. The Pens are the most prolific offense and Anderson can have his fair share of stinkers. Odds indicate the Pens won't take as long as 54 minutes to score. They'll need to start better and pile up points on a Sens team that can be buried if enough pressure is applied. Come Monday, expect a more potent Penguins team.
Senators at Penguins Prediction
With a 6-1 record in overtime and 8-2 record in one-goal games, the Sens have gotten by winning close games and clutch scoring. Erik Karlsson has a microfracture and yet continues to deliver masterful performances and has elevated his teammates' games with the likes of Ryan and Pageau increasing their output. The Pens won't get stymmied for two home games however and will likely bounce back with a vengeance. But again being close to 2-1 underdogs on most sportsbooks, the Sens are the team to take a shot at.Ottawa Senators (+175) SportsInteraction
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