Tuesday, December 11, 2018

NHL Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs. Minnesota Wild - 12/11/2018 - 8:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Montreal Canadiens vs. Minnesota Wild - Date: 12/11/2018 Time: 8:00 PM EST Venue: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN, 55102 / Devan Dubnyk was playing the blame game Friday night in Edmonton. And he was pointing the finger squarely at himself. Leading Handicappers. The Minnesota Wild goalie didn't make it out of the first period's first nine minutes, ceding three goals on just six shots in his team's 7-2 loss to the Oilers. It was their seventh defeat in 10 games, one that dropped them to 15-12-2 and into fifth place in the Central Division. Dubnyk and Minnesota try to correct the recent skid Tuesday night when they begin a four-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. Dubnyk was most chagrined with the second goal he allowed against Edmonton. After stoning Ryan Spooner on a Grade A opportu nity, Dubnyk wasn't able to corral a bouncing puck. Professional Handicappers. The Oilers pounced on it and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins chipped it into the net." Can't give that up," Dubnyk said. "Disappointed with myself for the second one. I take a lot of pride in just kind of calming things down if it's feeling a little crazy, and obviously that just fuels the situation. I'll definitely take responsibility for that." It was a weird play the way it happened, but it doesn't matter. I can handle those. I need to handle those. I feel bad for making Al (Stalock) go in there." Stalock, the Wild's backup goalie, stopped 22 of 26 shots. He kept Minnesota in contention until the Oilers poured four pucks past him in the third period to blow the game open. Wild players and coach Bruce Boudreau have for a few weeks spoke of the need to end the slump before it beca me more severe. Instead, they have kept stumbling and have now put themselves in position where they can't really afford to keep losing games, given how difficult the top of the division is to negotiate." It's a test of character now. You either bounce back or you start blaming everybody else," Boudreau said. "We've got to look at ourselves. Free Sport Pick. This has been the same group for almost three years now, so we've got to right the ship and go from there." While Minnesota is looking to correct flaws, Montreal (15-10-5) has feasted on the NHL's underbelly for three straight wins. After consecutive 5-2 decisions over Ottawa, the Canadiens got a late marker from Tomas Tatar Sunday night to take a 3-2 verdict in Chicago. After a brutal 2017-18, Montreal has improved behind offseason acquisitions such as Tatar (12 goals, 12 assists) and Max Domi (14-17-31). The return of workhorse defenseman Shea Weber, who netted his third goal in six games against the Blackhawks, has only added more firepower. And it didn't hurt that goalie Carey Price was in All-Star mode against Chicago, stopping 37 shots and helping the penalty-killing unit snuff out seven of eight Blackhawks man advantages." We weren't very good tonight," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "We lose games during the season that we deserve to win, and we win others feeling lucky we came away with the two points. That's what happened tonight. We weren't on point."

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NHL Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Winnipeg Jets - 12/11/2018 - 8:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Winnipeg Jets - Date: 12/11/2018 Time: 8:00 PM EST Venue: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3C 5S5 / WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- There was a time when any game against the Chicago Blackhawks was a chance for the Winnipeg Jets to gauge themselves against the NHL's best measuring stick. How times have changed. Now it's the Blackhawks hoping to turn their franchise around by keeping up with one of the youngest, heaviest and hardest-working teams in the league that also boasts one of the most lethal power plays. Sports Picking Services. The three Stanley Cup titles this decade are a distant memory as Chicago is on pace to miss the playoffs for the second straight season, less than two years after finishing with the best regular season record in the Western Conference and just three-and-a-half s easons removed from their most recent championship. Sports Picks. The Blackhawks, who have the most anemic power play in the league, come to town on the heels of 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. It was their seventh consecutive defeat, dropping their record under new coach Jeremy Colliton to 3-11-2. It was also the third straight game in which the Blackhawks had taken a two-goal lead only to end up losing. Winger Patrick Kane was particularly frustrated at the deja vu." We were moving (the puck) pretty good on the power play, getting a lot of shots," he said in a post-game scrum. "They did a good job of blocking shots and we couldn't capitalize. It was kind of the same old story, though. We find a way to lose it late. Another tough loss." The Jets, meanwhile, are coming off a 7-1 thumping of the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, a game in which they had seven different goal scor ers and none of them was named Patrik Laine. One of the most welcome developments in recent days is the play of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, who had developed a nasty habit early this season of giving up a goal or two a game that would make beer-league netminders blush. His save percentage in his last three contests, however, has been north of .960 and more reminiscent of his play last year. Laine, who scored seemingly at will in November, has failed to bulge the twine in five games in December. Arguably the league's streakiest sniper did register a couple of assists against the Flyers but he was able to contain his excitement about nearly doubling his total to five. His second helper, a sweet saucer pass to defenseman Tyler Myers, was particularly impressive." I don't really care about assists. I think I've shown that I'm a pretty good passer, too. I think I have good vision and I can see the plays and sometimes make the plays. Everybody is just ta lking about my shot and my scoring ability but I think I'm a pretty good passer, too," he said after practice on Monday." I've been playing hockey for many years so it doesn't always go in. Every hockey player knows that. Now it hasn't gone in for a few games but it doesn't matter. We're still winning as a team and that's the most important thing in hockey. Eventually, it will go in like you saw last month."

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NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Colorado Avalanche - 12/11/2018 - 9:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Colorado Avalanche - Date: 12/11/2018 Time: 9:00 PM EST Venue: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colo., 80204 / Things can change quickly in the NHL. Picks and Parlays. Three days ago the Colorado Avalanche were flying, having lost once in regulation since Nov. 9 and seemingly unstoppable reality hit with a 7-1 drubbing at Tampa Bay at the end of a four-game road trip. Profitable Handicappers. The rout wasn't the only thing that hit the Avalanche hard. What is Sports Handicapping. They lost forward Vladislav Kamenev to a shoulder injury, and the youngster might not play again this season." It's long term, might be for the year," coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com after Monday's practice. " I don't know the whole scenario there." Colorado (17-8-5) recalled forward A. J. Greer from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL, and he will be available when the Avalanche face the Edmonton Oilers at home on Tuesday night. Kamenev has two goals and three assists in 23 of Colorado's 30 games. The Oilers (16-12-2) have turned around their season since coach Ken Hitchcock was hired to take over for the fired Todd McClellan. Edmonton is 7-2-1 under the new boss and is riding a three-game winning streak. The Oilers are coming off a 1-0 win over Calgary on Sunday." I think we're playing a little tighter, and it's easier to close the games," Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson told the Edmonton Sun after Sunday's win. "Even when we were up two goals in the beginning of the season, we would tend to give up chances still, even when we tried to close games out. I don't feel like we're doing that now. We're playing a system where you r eally need to work hard, and all the guys are buying into it and doing the right things out there. It pays off." Like every team that plays the Avalanche, the key is stopping their top line. Entering Monday's action right-winger Mikko Rantanen (12 goals, 36 assists) and center Nathan MacKinnon (20 goals, 25 assists) were 1-2 in the NHL in scoring. The third member of the line, left-winger Gabriel Landeskog (17 goals, 17 assists) was 16th in scoring. The Oilers have some talented players, too, starting with Connor McDavid. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP in 2016-17 at age 20, the third youngest player to earn the honor. The only ones younger were Sidney Crosby (2006-07) and Wayne Gretzky (1979-80), who were both 19. McDavid (16 goals, 25 assists) was fourth in the league in scoring before Monday's action. The top lines for both teams could even out, leaving it up to secondary scorers to decide this one. Losing Kamenev is tough, but Colorado could also be without second-year center Alexander Kerfoot. He didn't practice Monday due to an undisclosed injury, and if he can't go Tuesday it will be the first game he has missed this year and just the fourth in his career. Greer could make up for Kerfoot's absence if needed. Greer has played well for the Eagles with nine goals and 12 assists in 20 games. He has played one game with Colorado this season and had four assists in 22 games last year.

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NHL Game Preview: Arizona Coyotes vs. Boston Bruins - 12/11/2018 - 7:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Arizona Coyotes vs. Boston Bruins - Date: 12/11/2018 Time: 7:00 PM EST Venue: TD Garden , Boston, Mass., 02114 / BOSTON -- Fresh off a four-point weekend that included a difficult start time in Ottawa, the Bruins host the Coyotes Tuesday night looking for a sweep of the two-game season series with Arizona. And also looking for their 14th straight win over the Coyotes and ninth in a row at TD Garden. After routing the Toronto Maple Leafs to end a three-game losing streak Saturday night, the Bruins left immediately after that game for a late-afternoon start in Ottawa Sunday. Sports Handicapping Monitor. They fell behind 1-0 but won the game in overtime, making the difficult travel weekend easier to accept." Tonight was a game we stayed patient and eventually got things to go our way," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after Torey Krug converted a nifty pass from David Krejci at 1:53 of overtime for the win. "I thought we were the better team the last 40, 43 minutes whatever it was, and eventually we got rewarded." Saturday night, the Coyotes, who, like the Bruins, are in the middle of a severe injury situation, rallied from three goals down but lost 5-3 to the San Jose Sharks at home. Now, Rick Tocchet's team opens a four-game road trip -- and are apparently ready to get a goaltender back. Free Guaranteed Sports Picks. The news on Antti Raanta was bad and it appears he may well be out for the season with a lower body injury. Darcy Kuemper, out since Nov. 21 with a lower body injury, could return as early as Tuesday. Rookie Adin Hill has played the last six games -- four wins and then two losses -- to the tune of a 1.62 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. Calvin Pickard was claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec . 1. General manager John Chayka, tweeting on the Coyote's immediate goalie future, wrote, "I think it will be a bit of goalie by committee at this stage. Whoever's playing well will get the net." Sunday, on a conference call, the GM said his team was, "at a stage where they need some opportunity and they're looking for a chance. Now we've got a chance (for them) ... Sports Handicapper Leaderboard. That's the group we've got and that's the group we're going to go with." Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves in a 2-1 Bruins victory at Arizona Nov. 17 and should be next in the rotation after he beat Toronto and Tuukka Rask got the win at Ottawa. Halak, 9-4-2 on the season, is an impressive 9-3-2 with a 2.30 GA, a .930 save percentage and two career shutouts against the Coyotes. Kuemper, 4-5-2 on the season, has made three career starts against the Bruins, losing all three, with a 2.71 GAA and an .884 save percentage. Pickard has won his only career start against Boston, yielding two goals. The Coyotes, who lead the NHL with 11 shorthanded goals, fell to 13-13-2 with Saturday's second straight home loss." We played hard. We're right there," Tocchet said. "We're a little depleted but guys gave it their all." The Bruins had scored 16 goals in 10 games before scoring six Saturday night against the Leafs. They scored just enough Sunday to improve to 16-10-4." I thought we had a lot of really good looks tonight," said Brad Marchand, who scored the first goal. "We easily could have had four or five goals, but their goalie played really well, kept them in it. The Bruins have kept their heads above water despite a rash of injuries that still has them without Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller. The Coyotes lost Saturday without six players. Boston's Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson scored his first NHL goal in the Bruins' win in the desert.

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NCAAB Game Preview: Villanova vs. Pennsylvania - 12/11/2018 - 7:00 PM EST

NCAAB Game Preview: Villanova vs. Pennsylvania - Date: 12/11/2018 Dec 11, 2018PHILADELPHIA -- Villanova will be attempting to secure its 26th consecutive Big 5 victory when it battles Penn Tuesday night at the Palestra.The No. 17-ranked Wildcats (8-2, 3-0 Big 5) have already defeated La Salle, Temple and Saint Joseph's and have a chance to complete a Big 5 sweep for the sixth straight season. Penn will enter this game with an 8-2 mark overall.Villanova's last loss in the Big 5 came on Dec. 5, 2012 to Temple.The Wildcats defeated the Hawks 70-58 on Saturday in the annual game dubbed the "Holy War." Senior Eric Paschall paced Villanova with 14 points and nine rebounds while Phil Booth and Joe Cremo added 12 points apiece. Jermaine Samuels came off the bench for his second consecutive strong performance with 11 points and eight rebounds.After a 2-2 start, the defending national champion Wildcats have won six in a ro w."I say this every time, this was a Big 5 battle," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said after the win against Saint Joseph's. "A big part of this game was (Saint Joseph's) not having two starters. Best Sports Handicapping Services. That put a lot of pressure on Lamarr Kimble and Jared Bynum. I thought they did a really good job. NHL Handicappers. They were tough to handle and they did a really good job of keeping us off the glass. We didn't shoot the ball great but we didn't get any easy baskets and couldn't get to the foul line."We're happy to get out of it with a win." Villanova took 43 shots from beyond the arc against the Hawks, the second-highest total in program history. Earlier this season in a loss to Furman, it launched 44."We don't go in choosing how many we want to take," Wright said . "It's just what they give us. Sometimes teams decide they aren't going to give us 3's. Free Sports Picks Twitter. Then you've got to get to the rim or the foul line." Wright holds a 15-2 career record against the Quakers since arriving on the Main Line in 2001. The Wildcats have won the last eight meetings against Penn at the Palestra dating to '03.Penn's last win against Villanova came on Dec. 10, 2002 and have dropped 15 in a row overall in the series.At 8-2, Penn is off to its best 10-game start since the '94-95 team also started 8-2. The Quakers have also won 11 games in a row at the Palestra and 14 of its last 15.In Penn's last game, it defeated La Salle, 83-65, while shooting 57 percent from the field. Freshman Michael Wang led the way with 18 points while A. J. Brodeur added 17. Antonio Woods also scored 17 points.Wang is shooting 60 percent from the field, includi ng 47 percent from beyond the arc."The shooting is there, passing is there. Everything looks like it comes easy for him," Penn head coach Steve Donahue told reporters of Wang. "For him, his ability to get more and more minutes by defending will really help us. He's a terrific kid, works really hard, and I don't even think he's scratching the surface on the level of talent he has." Penn is 6-0 this season when leading at halftime.

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NBA Game Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets - 12/11/2018 - 8:08 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets - Date: 12/11/2018 Dec 11, 2018HOUSTON -- At this point, there are no easy solutions for the Rockets, whose protracted struggles this season were once a surprise but have methodically come to define this team.The Rockets (11-14) have revealed themselves to be flawed on multiple fronts. Inside Info. Their defense is ranked 25th in points allowed per 100 possessions (112.2). An inability to keep opponents from dominating the offensive glass has played a role in that vulnerability, with Houston ranking 29th in defensive rebounding rate (68.5 percent) and ahead of only the Washington Wizards.Their bench, dead last in the NBA in scoring (28.2 points per game), has taken its share of the blame, but there is plenty to go around among the starters. With the Rockets set to host the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday at T oyota Center, what resonates is something must change."We can't obviously continue to lose," said Rockets guard Chris Paul, whose field goal percentage (43.1) is his lowest since his rookie season. "We've got to win games."One of my old coaches used to always say, 'winning is hard.' We've got to keep playing." The Rockets have dropped seven of nine games. While their defense is often the culprit, the Rockets collapsed offensively in critical stretches during their winless three-game road trip.Last Monday at Minnesota, they tallied nine points in the fourth quarter. Sports Handicapping Service Units Gained. They followed that with an 11-point third quarter at Utah three days later. And, after clawing ahead in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the Rockets surrendered 11 consecutive points to Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic en route to a third consecutive defeat. For all of their bravado regarding fixing what ails them, the Rockets have yet to do so. At this stage, their words continue to ring hollow."Like anything else, like myself and them, we're upset about it," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You don't sleep well and you're trying to search for answers and they're doing the same thing. Now, nobody's confidence is shaken and it's not like they're a woe-is-me kind of attitude. Football Tipsters. They're just even more determined to get this thing done." The Trail Blazers (15-11) appear to have steered out of a recent tailspin, claiming consecutive home victories after dropping six of seven games. Still, Portland has suffered four consecutive road losses; its 104-85 win in Houston on Oct. 30 came with Rockets guard James Harden sidelined.Portland opened the season appearing reborn defensively but has slid to the middle of the pack in recent weeks. The Trail Blazers remain in pursuit of an identity beyond their high-scoring backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and C. J. McCollum, something that expands upon their rebounding prowess and free-throw proficiency. A return to superior defense is a start."We saw at the start of the season that we can be a lot better than that," Portland center Jusuf Nurkic said. "And when we play defense and play with an edge, we're a pretty good team."After we have a really good stretch we had a bad stretch so we need to live game by game. We know we're going to be in the playoffs but we need to live with that (mentality)."

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NBA Game Preview: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs - 12/11/2018 - 8:38 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs - Date: 12/11/2018 Dec 11, 2018In years past, San Antonio has exceled as one of the top defensive teams in the NBA and a return to those tenets will be the cornerstone on which the new-look Spurs will build its foundation.But it's been a struggle so far, as evidenced by the Spurs' battle to just stay above the .500 mark and win consecutive games.San Antonio accomplished the latter for the first time in a month on Sunday in a victory over Utah, and can get back to the former on Tuesday when it hosts the league's worst team - the hapless Phoenix Suns - at the AT&T Center in the Alamo City.But don't expect the Spurs (13-14) to count their proverbial chickens before they are hatched. After all the Suns handed San Antonio a 116-96 loss in the Valley of the Sun on Nov. 14, and at this point the Spurs can take nothing for granted.The Spurs' 110-96 victory agains t Utah allowed them consecutive wins for the first time since capturing four straight in an eight-day span Oct. 27-Nov. 3. DeMar DeRozen scored 26 points, and Rudy Gay added 23 points and a career-high-tying 15 rebounds to lead San Antonio to the win.LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points, with Bryn Forbes scoring 15 points and Marco Belinelli hitting for 10 for the Spurs, which shot 53 percent from the floor.Utah had handed the Spurs a 34-point loss on Dec. 4 in Salt Lake City, but San Antonio turned the tables with better defense and success that carried over to the offensive end of the court."Communication, a little more bit more understanding, guys getting used to playing with each other and understanding what the process is for the way we want to play," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, when asked how the team's defense has improved. "And I think it's sinking in, so we'll see if it continues."It's about consistency and we haven't had th at. We've been pretty spotty, but we've had two good games in a row where we played defense and obviously that helps your offense, so I think they did a good job in that regard." Phoenix (4-23) heads to San Antonio for the second game of a back-to-back on the heels of a brutal 123-119 home overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday. Winning Sports Picks Who You Should Follow. The setback was the ninth straight for the Suns.Deandre Ayton led Phoenix in the loss with 20 points and 12 rebounds while five Suns - Mikal Bridges and Richaun Holmes (19 points each), Josh Jackson (18), De'Anthony Melton (13 points) and Troy Daniels (10) scored in double figures.Phoenix led 105-97 with four minutes to play but gave all that margin back and more over a two-minutes span. Handicapper Directory. The Suns needed a jumper by Melton with 5.5 second s to play to send the game into overtime and never led in the extra period.The Suns' four wins after 27 games is easily their worst start in franchise history. Phoenix has been without their to leading scorers, Devin Booker and TJ Warren, because of injuries. Booker has missed the past four games with a left hamstring injury. Warren sat five contests with soreness in his right ankle before returning on Monday and scoring six points in 12 minutes of action."It's hard - if you feel good about losing games, then you're in the wrong place, wrong spot," Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov said. "It doesn't really matter from the point of view that we focus on our job. It has to be done. Free Sports Picks. There's really no time to rest. Just regroup. Focus forward and encourage guys." The Suns have struggled with consistency, except for losing a lot, and with executing Kokoskov's offe nse."We have to find the leadership and it's also my job to push the guys, keep us organized, push the guys and give us confidence when the confidence is not there," Kokoskov told the Arizona Republic. "I don't feel right, which is good. That's how you're supposed to feel when you have this record we have right now."

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NHL Game Preview: Florida Panthers vs. St. Louis Blues - 12/11/2018 - 8:08 PM EST

NHL Game Preview: Florida Panthers vs. St. Louis Blues - Date: 12/11/2018 Time: 8:00 PM EST Venue: Enterprise Center, St. Louis, MO, 63103 / ST. LOUIS -- The frustration from another embarrassing outing on home ice for the St. Louis Blues spilled over into practice on Monday as defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Zach Sanford got into a fight during a battle drill. CBS Sports Picks. The tussle took place at the end of practice. Winning Sports Handicappers. The players were separated by assistant coach Steve Ott." Guys are frustrated and they should be," Blues interim coach Craig Berube told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Sometimes in practice it boils over and things happen. ... What is Sports Handicapping. They do care. I know the se guys care, and that's what happens because they do care and want to be successful." Blues forward Pat Maroon looked at it as a positive." You've got to enjoy it," Maroon told the Post-Dispatch. "That's part of hockey, right? We're still teammates. Sometimes people get heated and frustrations build up. I love that stuff. I think it's great. That's me though. I don't know if anyone else likes it." The Blues, fresh off a 6-1 drubbing against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, hope to take that fight into their next game as they host the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. And they could be getting back forward Jaden Schwartz for the game. Schwartz has missed the last 11 games after getting hit in the hand by a shot from teammate Vladimir Tarasenko in a Nov. 16 game at Vegas." I'm feeling better," Schwartz told the Post-Dispatch. "This last week, I'd say I've made strides. We'll see ho w it feels in the morning, but I feel like I'm getting close." We'll see how it feels in the morning and try a couple more things out and then make a decision right after that." The Blues also made a change in the nets, as Jordan Binnington was called up from AHL-San Antonio after the loss the Vancouver loss. Backup Chad Johnson has been put on waivers. Berube would not say whether Binnington or starter Jake Allen, who was pulled on Sunday, would start against the Panthers. The Blues have lost three of their last four games. St. Louis lost both games against Florida last season. The Panthers enter the game off a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Rangers. They have also lost three of their last four games. Panthers left winger Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists to reach 301 career points in 413 NHL games in the loss." We got one point, but obviously we need two points," Huberdeau told NHL.com. "I think we had nine points out of 16 at home. So we just have to take the positives of it and go on the road. Make sure we're ready to go in St. Louis (on Tuesday)." Florida came out slow, but overcame a two-goal deficit to force overtime against the Rangers." We had chances to win the game, but they did," Panthers center Aleksander Barkov told NHL.com. "So we're not happy because of that. We're happy with how we played. ... In this league, if you come out the way we did in the first period, it can cost you the whole game."

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