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NHL Stanley Cup Dark Horses

by Sean Murphy

Thursday, Mar 04, 2021

As we approach the midway point of this unique 2021 NHL regular season, it's time to give some attention to Stanley Cup futures. Here's a look at four 'dark horses' to consider as we flip the calendar page to March.St. Louis Blues 23-1I'll admit this play has a little more to do with the lofty price than the team itself. I do feel the Blues have a considerably better than 23-1 shot at hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup. While there have been some bumps in the road, St. Louis has hung in there through the first month-and-a-half of the season and should enter the playoffs in second or third spot in the West Division. It's easy to forget that this is a team that just won it all back in 2019 - which does feel like a lifetime ago. With Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester no longer in the mix, the Blues have had to change their identity but I'm confident they'll continue to find their way. Offseason acquisitions Torey Krug and Justin Faulk have helped solidify their blue line, contributing 23 points in 22 games. New York Islanders 28-1I'm quite surprised we're being offered such a generous price to back the Isles, who currently sit tied atop the East Division standings. Perhaps it's their reputation as a perennial loser over the last few decades - let's face it, the early-80's dynasty is nothing but a memory at this point. I like what they're building on Long Island though, and certainly believe in Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz. With the solid defensive system they have in place and their wealth of talent led by budding superstar Matthew Barzal up front, this is a team that could make some noise in what I believe is a fairly wide open field. Pittsburgh Penguins 30-1As long as Sidney Crosby is around, you can't count out the Penguins. While Pittsburgh currently sits on the outside looking in as far as the playoff picture goes (by percentage points only), I believe this is a team capable of going on a solid run and overtaking the Flyers for fourth spot in the East Division. We've already seen that the Pens can handle the rival Capitals, who currently sit top the East so finishing lower in the division isn't a huge concern. While staying healthy will be paramount with a lack of scoring depth and goaltender Tristan Jarry still needs to round into form, we're being offered an exceptional price to back a team that has the pedigree to go all the way this Spring.Calgary Flames 36-1This is a 'plug you nose and bet it' type of play as the Flames are severely wounded coming off six losses in their last eight games, including a pair of ugly blowout losses to the lowly Senators over the past week. I still like the upside they offer (especially at this price), even as they sit in fifth place in the North Division. There's no question Calgary's best hockey should lie ahead given its below-.500 record. I like the veteran leadership the Flames possess and feel they have a goaltender that is capable of getting hot and leading them on a deep postseason run (assuming they sneak in) in Jakob Markstrom. 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL, NHL, NBA and NCAA Basketball Previews and Odds - 03/04/2021

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Mar 04, 2021

The Thursday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League. The college basketball card begins at 11 AM ET with the first of four games in the second round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. All four games are on the NBC Sports Network. Richmond plays Duquesne in the opener as a 5.5-point favorite, with the total set at 141.5 (all odds from BetOnline). Saint Joseph’s plays UMass at 1 PM ET after defeating La Salle on Wednesday, 72-66, as a 3-point favorite. The Minutemen are a 3.5-point favorite with an over/under of 152. Dayton plays Rhode Island at 3:30 PM ET as a 4.5-point favorite with a total of 137. George Washington plays George Mason in the final game at 5:30 PM ET after defeating Fordham, 53-49, as a 7-point favorite on Wednesday.Michigan hosts Michigan State on ESPN at 7 PM ET. The Wolverines are second in the nation by the Associated Press. They fell to 18-2 after their 76-53 upset loss to Illinois as an 8.5-point favorite on Tuesday. The Spartans, 14-10, won their fourth game in their last five with their 64-58 victory against Indiana as a 3.5-point favorite on Tuesday. Michigan is a 12-point favorite with the total at 140.5.Baylor plays at home against Oklahoma State on ESPN2 at 7 PM  ET. The Bears are ranked third nationally by the AP with a 19-1 record. They defeated West Virginia on the road, 94-89, as a 5.5-point favorite on Tuesday. The Cowboys are ranked 17th by the AP with a 17-6 mark. They won their fifth in a row with a 79-75 victory against Oklahoma as a 2.5-point underdog on Monday. Baylor is an 11-point favorite with an over/under of 149.Oklahoma is at home against Texas on ESPN at 9 PM ET. The Sooners are ranked 16th in the nation by the AP with a 14-8 record. They lost their third straight game after a 79-75 upset loss at Oklahoma State as a 2.5-point favorite on Monday. The Longhorns rank 15th nationally by the AP with a 15-7 record. They have won four of six with their 81-67 win at Iowa State as a 12.5-point favorite on Tuesday. Oklahoma is a 2-point favorite, with the total at 142.Colorado hosts Arizona State on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Buffaloes are ranked 24th by the AP with a 19-7 record. They won their third straight game with a 70-61 win against UCLA as a 6.5-point favorite on Saturday. The Sun Devils improved to 10-11 with a 77-74 win against Washington State as a 5-point favorite on Saturday. Colorado is a 10.5-point favorite with an over/under of 147.5.Central Florida plays at East Carolina on ESPNU at 9 PM ET as a 3.5-point road favorite with the total at 134. Utah State is at home against Wyoming on FS1 at 9:30 PM ET as a 16.5-point favorite with the total at 148.5.Nine games are on the NBA slate before the All-Star Game break this weekend. Miami visits New Orleans on TNT at 8:35 PM ET. The Heat lost at home to Atlanta, 94-80, as a 2.5-point favorite on Tuesday. The Pelicans lost their third game in their last four with their 128-124 upset loss to Chicago as a 6-point favorite on Wednesday. Ten games are on the NHL docket. The puck drops at 7 PM ET with five game,s with the slate concluding at 10 PM ET with Toronto playing at Vancouver. None of the games are on national television. Matchweek 26 in the English Premier League concludes with three matches. Tottenham travels to Fulham at 1 PM ET as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with the total set at 2.25. Everton plays at West Bromwich Albion at 1 PM ET as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 2.5. Liverpool hosts Chelsea at 3:15 PM ET as a -0.25 goal line favorite with the over/under at 2.5. All three games are on the NBC Peacock app.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NBA, NHL, EPL and NCAA Basketball Previews and Odds - 03/03/2021

by Big Al Staff

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2021

The Wednesday sports card features action in NCAA basketball, the NBA, the NHL, and the English Premier League. The college basketball card begins at 11 AM ET with the first game in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Saint Josephs plays LaSalle at the E.J. Wade Arena in Richmond, Virginia, as a 2-point favorite with the total set at 151.The nationally-televised college basketball schedule begins at 6:30 PM ET, with UConn playing at Seton Hall. The Huskies, 12-6, won their fourth game in their last five with their 80-62 win against Marquette as a 7-point favorite on Saturday. Seton Hall, 13-10, lost their second straight game with a 61-52 upset loss at Butler as an 8-point favorite back on February 24th. UConn is a 1.5-point favorite with an over/under of 135.5.Utah hosts Oregon State on ESPNU at 7 PM ET. The Utes, 10-11, ended a four-game losing streak with a 71-61 upset win against USC as a 4.5-point underdog on Saturday. The Beavers improved to 13-11 with a 73-62 win at Stanford as a 5-point underdog on Saturday. Utah is a 3.5-point favorite, with the total at 133.St. Johns plays at home against Providence on the CBS Sports Network at 7 PM ET. The Red Storm, 14-10, has lost three of four after their 81-58 loss at Villanova as an 11.5-point underdog back on February 23rd. The Friars, 12-11, have won three of four with their 83-68 upset victory against Xavier as a 1.5-point underdog last Wednesday. St. John’s is a 1.5-point favorite with an over/under of 150.Villanova is at home against Creighton on FS1 at 8:30 PM ET. The Wildcats are ranked 10th by the Associated Press with a 15-4 record. They lost at Butler by a 73-61 score as a 12.5-point favorite on Sunday. The Bluejays are 14th in the AP poll with a 17-6 record. They lost at Xavier by a 77-69 score as a 4-point favorite on Saturday. Villanova is a 4-point favorite with the total at 146.5.Oregon hosts UCLA on ESPN2 at 9 PM ET. The Ducks, 17-5, have won eight of nine with their 80-69 victory against Arizona as a 4-point favorite on Monday. The Bruins fell to 17-6 with a 70-61 loss at Colorado as a 6.5-point underdog on Saturday. Oregon is a 4-point favorite with an over/under of 134.Ten games are on the NBA docket. A doubleheader on ESPN begins at 7:35 PM ET with Brooklyn playing at Houston. The Nets won their ninth game in their last ten with their 124-112 win at San Antonio as a 4.5-point favorite on Monday. The Rockets lost their 12th game in a row with a 101-90 upset loss to Cleveland as a 3-point favorite on Monday. The nightcap on ESPN is at 10:05 PM ET, with Golden State visiting Portland. The Warriors had their three-game losing streak end with a 117-91 loss at Los Angeles against the Lakers as a 2.5-point underdog on Sunday. The Trail Blazers ended a four-game losing streak with a 123-111 win against Charlotte as an 8.5-point favorite on Monday. Six games are on the NHL slate. A doubleheader on the NBC Sports Network begins at 7 PM ET with Boston hosting Washington. The Bruins come off a 4-1 win against the New York Rangers on Sunday. The Capitals won their third in a row on Sunday in a 3-2 win at New Jersey. Boston is a -145 money line favorite with a total of 6.Matchweek 26 of the English Premier League continues with three matches. Leicester City visits Burnley on the NBC Sports Network at 1 PM ET as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 2.25. Aston Villa travels to Sheffield United on the NBC Peacock app at 1 PM ET as a -0.25 goal line road favorite with the total at 2.25. Manchester United plays at Crystal Palace on the NBC Peacock app at 3:15 PM ET as a -1.25 goal line road favorite with the over/under at 2.75.

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