This Sunday November 11th, the CFL playoffs kickoff. The Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders have earned 1st round byes while this weekend the BC Lions will face the Hamilton Ticats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders will play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to see who advances to the conference finals.
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Tampa Bay vs Pittsburgh: Lightning Host Penguins in a Playoff Atmosphere
Hot run has Tampa Bay sitting second overall in the Atlantic
At the end of the 2015 portion of their schedule, that closed with a 5-2 drubbing by the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay was 18-16-4 and three points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The New Year has a been a new beginning for the Bolts as they are on a 11-2-0 recent run and have moved into second overall in the NHL Atlantic Division – seven points behind the surprisingly good Florida Panthers. With their offense improving, but still not clicking on all cylinders, defense has led the way as the Lightning’s 2.30 team goals against average is the fifth best in the league. Tampa Bay has won two straight at home as they headed into the All-Star break with a 1-0 win over Toronto and then posted an impressive 3-1 victory over Detroit on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Just as the big guns started to fire a major weapon has fallen
Sitting with 40 points at the end of December, Pittsburgh was also three points out of the playoffs when the calendar turned to 2016. Though not quite as hot as the Lightning, the Penguins have earned at least one point in 12 of their last 14 games and they have won four straight contests. While his injury is not considered serious, Penguins leading scorer Evgeni Malkin didn’t make the trip to Florida as he is dealing with a lower-body issue. By posting six goals and twelve assists, during his last 14 games, Malkin helped jump start the Pens anemic offense and he will be missed in this contest. This is the second of three meetings and Pittsburgh’s second trip to Tampa this season after the Lightning recorded a 5-4 OT win back on January 15, 2016.
Penguins vs Lightning NHL Prediction: Though not confirmed at publishing time, Marc-Andre Fleury (20-11-5 GAA 2.36) is expected to face Ben Bishop (20-14-3 GAA 1.99) in the goaltending duel tonight. Fleury was somewhat shaky but the Pens posted a 6-5 win in his last start at home against Ottawa on Tuesday. Bishop has been the Bolts MVP so far this season and he is coming off a strong performance during the win over the Red Wings. While we don’t see a Pittsburgh totally tanking here – not having Malkin is a tough hole to fill. We are backing Tampa Bay with a five-unit wager on the money line price posted on the NHL wagering board at the online sportsbook.
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The Wildcard games have concluded and the 4 Divisional matchups are set. Red Sox, Yankees will have the most marquee appeal but all series are intriguing and this postseason lineup of baseball looks as good as any that can be recalled in recent memory.