Welcome to SportsGrid’s new, daily feature, where we tell you what sports are on TV tonight. Then, I do my best to help you win some money while watching. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing, and gambling is legal in your jurisdiction. Feel free to tweet hateful things at me if my advice moves you to do so. TV games are often the toughest games to find an edge on, so don’t go crazy, people. If I do recommend a bet, I’ll keep track of it, so you can tell me how awful (or wonderful?) I am. For record-keeping, we’ll assume a standard bet is $10. Occasionally, there will be 2x or 3x bets, maybe 4 or 5 if I’m feeling spunky. Good luck, America!
1-3 night last night, yet didn’t lose too much money. We will survive and conquer.
Important note: Money you make in the playoffs isn’t worth more than money you make in the regular season. Stay disciplined.
NHL Playoffs: Senators (+116) at Canadiens (-124) (7:00 p.m., CNBC)
The Senators are up 3-1 and have a chance to close this out on the road against a backup goalie, Peter Budaj. That’s bad news for Montreal, because Carey Price was having a rough year, but Budaj has been worse. His even-strength save percentage was just .912 this year, and he’s rusty. And he’s going up against league-leader Craig Anderson, he of the otherworldly .943 even-strength SV% (not to mention his unfathomable .925 SV% against opponents’ power plays).
There is value everywhere you look, for this game. The Senators have been the better team this series. They now get to face a rusty backup in front of one of the NHL’s most intense fan bases, desperately hoping to stave off elimination. The Senators should be favorites, even on the road. Also, I take Craig Anderson’s opponent to score fewer than 2.5 goals, 75% of the time. There is very little juice on this total, which is dumb. Especially since Montreal may play tight to protect Budaj. Finally, you can get Ottawa’s team total at plus-money, which is absurd, given that they’ve topped 2.5 goals in three of four games, and now they’re facing Budaj. Sprinkle a tad on that, too. Add the under 5, and we might win ‘em all, with no juice, sans the five cents on the Canadiens team total.
Senators ML (+116), $10 to win $11.60, Canadiens team total UNDER 2.5 (-105), $20 to win $19.05, Senators team total OVER 2.5 (+105), $2.50 to win $2.63 AND UNDER 5 (+105), $2.50 to win $2.63
NHL Playoffs: Islanders (+211) at Penguins (-233) (7:00 p.m., NBCSN)
The series is tied 2-2, despite the Penguins being the biggest series favorites of anyone besides Chicago, by a longshot. Every game has been wide open and high scoring, with only the first game going under the total, thanks to a Marc-Andre Fleury shutout. Since then, Fleury has been awful, and Tomas Vokoun is starting, which changes things.
A few points here: The Islanders were better on the road than at home this year. The Penguins had the same record, home and away. I think Pittsburgh wins, because they’re better, but the Penguins were around -160 on the road and lost. They are now -233 at home in a series that has been fairly evenly matched, and they are starting a rusty, backup goalie. This price is absurd, at first glance.
Yet, there is a problem. Vokoun gets a bad rap, but he’s a former elite goalie, and he had the third-best even-strength save percentage of any goalie to play significant time. He only started 17 games, yet his .940 SV% is absurd, just a hair behind Craig Anderson and Sergei Bobrovsky, and ahead of everybody else, including guys like Henrik Lundqvist and Jonas Hiller. Vokoun was better than Fleury this year, period.
I feel like I have a very good feel on this game. Vokoun started three games against the Isles this year, a 6-1 home win a 4-2 road win and a 2-0 home win.
I think the Penguins will play more defensively, realizing that their wide-open approach has played right into the Isles hands. The “contrarian” play is the under, yet I think it’s a great value play. You can get an under 6.5 at an absurdly low price of -145. That’s insane, even for these two teams. Also, even though I don’t like this price, I think that, by buying in regulation instead of on the standard moneyline, we will cash a Pittsburgh ticket and get decent value.
Penguins win in regulation (-140), $10 to win $7.14 AND UNDER 6.5 (-145), $10 to win $6.90
NHL Playoffs: Wild (+233) at Blackhawks (-245) (9:30 p.m., NBCSN)
The Blackhawks should close this out. But there’s no value on a -245 line, even in regulation. Two of four games have gone under 3.5 goals, though. I think the ‘Hawks stifle the Wild, focusing and playing tight in an elimination game. I actually considered going under 4 goals at +175, but under 5 at -110 is probably better value. I’d rather risk a bit more on that line.
UNDER 5 (-110), $15 to win $13.64
None, enjoy the playoffs.
Record in games actually worth risking money on: 158-108 (+$237.13)
What else is on:
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
9:30 or 10 p.m. | MLB Network
Philadelphia at Arizona or Atlanta at San Francisco
Lines taken from 5dimes.eu (with reduced juice) and betonline.ag