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.
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Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Ottawa Senators vs Pittsburgh Penguins Game 1
NHL Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Preview
There hasn't been a repeat Stanley Cup champion in over 15 years since the Detroit Red Wings won back-to-back in 2001 and 2002 but the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to break that trend and must now get past the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern conference finals. Despite surrendering the season series, the Pens have mastered the Sens in three of their last four playoff meetings and despite having injuries to key players, the Pens are still brimming with talent. But don't count the Sens out, the comeback kings.
Regular Season Series: 2-1 Senators (1 SO win)
The Penguins are well on their way to defending their Stanley Cup but have to get past a well-known adversary. Conventional wisdom dictates the Penguins run roughshod over the Sens as they have in the past but with MVP and team captain Sidney Crosby battling a possible concussion and lead defenseman Kris Letang out, this could be a tougher battle than forecasted.
Marc-Andre Fleury could be playing his final season as a Penguin and is doing all he can do to reestablish himself as their main goaltender posting a .927 save percent with 2.55 goals against average despite facing over 35 shots a game, the most in the postseason. Fleury has seemingly turned his performance around following a ho-hum regular season. The Pens will have to tighten up on defense as the speedy and crafty Sens team can exploit their defensive holes. Fortunately, the Pens' offense is the best this playoffs averaging 3.42 goals per game. Even without Crosby, the presence of Evgeni Malkin, who leads the playoffs with 18 points helps keep the offense deadly.
Not many predicted the Senators to make it this far but the last remaining Canadian team is only four wins away from their second Stanley Cup appearance. Team captain and two-time Norris-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson has been putting on one of the greatest postseason performances recording 13 points in 12 games despite playing with injuries. Like Crosby, Karlsson has been taking over games as shown in his last two games against the Rangers where he willed the Sens to come back in game 5 and close out the series in enemy territory.
Besides Karlsson, the Sens have had several players step up in clutch situations particularly the much-maligned Bobby Ryan with 9 points and Jean-Gabriel Pageau with 7 goals. Craig Anderson is solid in net despite inconsistencies and the Sens' defensemen aren't unbeatable but help keep the team afloat. The Sens have a tendency to start slow and they can't afford this against the potent Penguins. As Karlsson does the heavy-lifting, the rest of the Sens should chip in because it'll take more than a few scores to sink the Pens.
Senators at Penguins Prediction
The straight pick is the Penguins to give the Sens a rude awakening similar to how the Rangers handled them in games 3 and 4. The Pens will open up the scoring early and won't look back. However, at 2-1 odds this is a bit steep considering the iffy status of Crosby, their defensive vulnerabilities, and the Sens' knack for making unlikely comebacks. Either wait for the Pens to go down in odds or bet the Sens to somehow pull off an upset at close to 2-1 underdog odds depending on your sportsbook.Ottawa Senators (+175) SportsInteraction
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