Eastern Conference Preview- Pittsburgh vs. Boston

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Eastern Conference Final Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins

    As we come down the home stretch in the playoffs, the matchups are becoming much tighter and the stakes are much higher. Every team remaining in the postseason has won a Stanley Cup within the last four years, so the experience is there. On Saturday night, the Penguins and Bruins will face off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final in Pittsburgh, and it should be one hell of a series. The big bad Bruins will try and impose their will on the skilled Penguins, and the Penguins will try and make the Bruins play defense constantly. Let’s take a look at some of the top storylines to watch in this series.

1. Style vs. Style

This is going to be a series of clashing styles, as the Bruins like to play a physical brand of hockey that sees them send a lot of traffic to the opposition’s net, while the Penguins play a puck possession game in which they want to spend as much time as possible making their opponents play in their defensive zone. Whichever team can establish the style of play that they want faster than the other will have a distinct advantage.

2. The Crosby Effect

It’s a widely accepted fact that the Penguins possess the best player on this planet in Sidney Crosby. Stopping Crosby is nearly impossible, so the best most teams can hope for is to slow him down, and the Bruins will look to do just that. The dilemma that the Bruins face will be how to do it. You can be assured that Zdeno Chara will be in between Crosby and Crosby’s shadow every shift. But Chara has looked tired and a step slow throughout these playoffs, so the Bruins will probably have perennial Selke contender Patrice Bergeron out against Crosby along with Chara on every shift. Enter the Crosby Effect:with your best defensive forward and defenseman out against Crosby, who will be matched up against James Neal,  Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, and Kris Letang? The Bruins will have to “pick their poison” so to speak as to which line they want to take their chances with. If I were a betting man, I’d say Bergeron and Chara shadow Crosby, and the Bruins will be comfortable with the Nathan Horton-David Krejci-Milan Lucic line to outduel the Neal-Malkin-Iginla combo.

3. Keep Your Cool

Perhaps the biggest key to the series for both teams will be discipline. Because the Bruins like to play a physical brand of hockey, they may be able to goad the Penguins into taking some bad after-whistle and frustration penalties. Malkin and Neal both struggled with this during the regular season. Conversely, because of the skill and speed of the Penguins mixed with their ability to mix it up a little as well, the Bruins will have to watch the hooking and holding penalties. Both teams want to stay out of the box because both teams have been very good, if not great, on the power play this postseason, Likewise, neither team has been overwhelming on the penalty kill. Discipline is a sign of a well-coached team, and both coaches are in the top tier of coaches in this league. Limiting the opponents’ special teams play will also be important as both teams like to roll all four lines to get into the groove of the game. Chances are whoever scores the most special teams goals will win this series.

4. Goaltending, Goaltending, Goaltending

If you have read any hockey article on TheCover4, you’ll probably notice that we believe goaltending to be the biggest factor in any NHL game, and this series will be no different. Quietly, Tomas Vokoun has posted a 6-1 record in this year’s playoffs, with a .941 save percentage, trailing only Jonathan Quick in that department. However, many will give the goaltending advantage to the Bruins and Tuukka Rask. Like every other aspect of each of these two teams, it is very close. Rask has been very good for the Bruins all year, and it is clear that he is their guy between the pipes. On the other end of the rink, you have the aforementioned Vokoun, who took over for the embattled Cup-winning Marc-Andre Fleury midway through the Penguins’ first-round series against the Islanders. Vokoun has been good when called upon, but questions still remain about how long his leash is should he falter a bit. You know Fleury is biding his time and wants to get back in as soon as possible, but which Fleury will the Penguins get if that time comes? The Fleury of their ’09 Cup run? Or the Fleury of the ’12 Flyers series? Hopefully for Pittsburgh fans, they won’t have to find out, and Vokoun will keep up with his solid play.

5. Emotion

Hockey is a very emotional sport and there will be many emotions flowing throughout this series. Both Pittsburgh’s ConsolEnergyCenter and Boston’s TD Garden are tough venues for visiting teams. With Boston still recovering from the tragic Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent craziness that ensued, the city has rallied behind the Bruins, and the Bruins have reflected the sentiment by wearing “Boston Strong” decals during games and police, fire and armed forces clothing in their postgame interviews. While I’m sure it is not their main motivation, never underestimate that little extra motivation. In addition to that, the Boston players will surely want to make Iginla see the error of his trade deadline choice to nix a trade to Boston, in order to be dealt to Pittsburgh where he felt was his best chance to meet Lord Stanley. In addition to Iginla seeking his first Cup, the Penguins also feature the likes of Neal, Douglas Murray, Brenden Morrow, Jussi Jokinen, Vokoun  and Brandon Sutter all looking for their first Cup victory, so the hunger will still be there for the Pens. Once we get into this series, I am sure you will see some very intense, emotional hockey played.

Who Ya Takin’?

From early into this season, many have been eyeing a Bruins-Penguins Eastern Conference Finals. They have been the two best teams all year in the East and have past experience to help them. Many picture this series going seven games. While at first glance it looks like an even match-up, the Penguins just seem to edge the Bruins in nearly every department: depth, speed, skill, scoring. But the two departments that the Bruins are at least their equal, if not superior, are goaltending and physicality. Luckily for the Bruins, those are two huge departments. As Ottawa showed against Pittsburgh, a good goalie can steal at least one game single handedly. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Craig Anderson in Ottawa is better than Rask, and Rask has yet to see an offensive dynamo like the Penguins. I just don’t think that the Bruins have the players to get it done. The Penguins skill and puck possession will be the difference in this series.

Penguins in 6.

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Pat Davis
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The Betting Corner: NBA Playoffs May 30, 2013

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat 8.30PM (ET) TNT

(Series Tied 2-2)

30james-articleLargeAfter such a back and forth series, game 5 is will determine which team wants it more. Headed back to Miami, the Heat look to regain control on there home floor after some questionable calls in game 4 which, in my opinion, decided the outcome. The last four games have come down to who dominates in the low post on both sides of the ball. For the Heat to take game 5, they need to step up the defensive pressure, get more scoring production from the big 3 and “Rebound, Rebound, Rebound”. For the Pacers to take one on the road, they need to continue to be aggressive on the boards as they were in game 3 and keep Lebron and co from gaining momentum in this game. Although I expect the Heat to win this one, I’ve realized in this series the high spread favors dog.

Play:
Pacers +7.5

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Alex Plumb
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling.  We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

Game 7: What It’s All About

asdasThere are probably no two words that conjure up a bigger realm of emotions for sports fans than “Game 7”. Excitement, anticipation, fear, hope, the list goes on and on. It is the game where legends are made. If your team is in Game 7, it is the epitome of a rollercoaster ride. The magnifying glass of the sports world is on you for (at least) 60 minutes. Every mistake is scrutinized, every coaching decision is questioned, and it only ends one of two ways, wondering “what-if”, or a shining moment that will stick with you for a lifetime, for both fan and player alike. For every major North American sport except football, Game 7 is what separates the best from the rest. There are many different ways to get there, but none of that matters once the game starts. A blown 3-0 series lead, a comeback from down 3-0, a couple bad calls from games earlier in the series; all forgotten. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is the final score, and that is what makes game 7 beautiful. Hockey is no exception, and the drama of Game 7 is unmatched. We have had a few in this year’s playoffs, and with the teams remaining being that much more even, you can be sure there are more to come. The drama of a game 7 is incredible, it’s the reason the players finish that second work out of the day in summer training, it’s the reason that the die-hard fan doesn’t shave that playoff beard, it’s the reason the coach watches that extra 15 minutes of film, to do everything you know how to do to make sure that your team has that shining moment, and not wondering “what if”. Anyone can be the hero, the long-time team captain, an underrated role player, a struggling star, or the last person on earth that you would ever guess. It’s a beautiful thing.

Let’s take a look at some of the faces of game 7.

dive_display_imageThe Moment: 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Darius Kasparitis’ OT Goal

This lends to one of those game 7 moments from an unlikely hero. Darius Kasparitis was a feared hitter on the Penguins blueline for many years, but was not known for his scoring prowess. After Mario Lemieux tied the game late to send it to Overtime, Kasparitis sailed a shot passed future hall of famer Dominik Hasek and became the unlikely hero. In his elation, he took off down the ice, ending in a home plate slide through center ice.

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Alex-Burrows-Ryan-KeslerThe Moment: 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals, Alex Burrows’ OT goal

For the two seasons prior to 2011, the Vancouver Canucks enjoyed a successful regular season leading to high post season hopes, only to be eliminated both years by the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs. Nursing a 1-goal lead at home in Game 7, the Canucks gave up the tying goal to captain Jonathan Toews, leaving many in attendance to fret “Not again”. Chicago defender Chris Campoli botched a clearing attempt that Burrows jumped, caught and dropped to the ice, skated to the slot and buried a slap shot behind Chicago netminder Corey Crawford. As the Vancouver crowd went wild and the team celebrated, CBC announcer Jim Huson put the moment perfectly, “Finally, after 3 seasons for Vancouver, it’s a great day for an exorcism”. Vancouver went on to face the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose in… you guessed it, 7 Games.

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9008195_448x252The Moment: 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, The Comeback Completed.

In 2010, the Philadelphia Flyers lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks, but their road to the finals was nothing short of spectacular. In their Semifinals series against the Boston Bruins, not only did the Flyers trail the series three comes to none, but after erasing that deficit to force game 7, they were down three GOALS to none in Game 7. They slowly erased the deficit, and Simon Gagne’s third period Power Play goal capped the comeback, giving the Flyers a 4-3 lead in the game, that they never relinquished.

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talbot-topperThe Moment: 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, Max Talbot Scores 2.

After losing to the Red Wings in 6 games the season prior, Pittsburgh found themselves matched up in the Finals once more against the Wings. A long, well played series culminated in Game 7 in Detroit. Unsung role player Max Talbot was the Game 7 hero for the Penguins, potting 2 goals in the game. Talbot’s first goal was typical of him, taking the puck and swinging it towards the net to see it go in, but his second goal was very atypical for Talbot. Coming on a 2-on-1 against goaltender Chris Osgood, Talbot looked off the pass and picked a corner, a true goal scorers goal, and in celebration and realization of the moment, Talbot slid to his knees pumping both fists, becoming one of those indelible images, at least to Penguins fans.

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MessierThe Moment: 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, The Wait Is Over.

New York’s 54-year quest to recapture Lord Stanley’s old silver mug came to an electrifying conclusion in the deafening confines of Madison Square Garden. The Rangers saw their leads of 2-0 and 3-1 trimmed and had to hang on through a tight third period. One of the most compelling playoff runs in NHL history, that included “the guarantee”, the Rangers capped it off in thrilling fashion to finally dispel the chants of “1940!!!!!!” that echoed through their cross-town rival Islanders’ arena for decades.

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Pat

Pat Davis
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The Betting Corner: NBA Playoffs May 28, 2013

Miami Heat @Indiana Pacers 8.30PM (ET) TNT

(Miami lead Series 2-1)

27east-1-articleLargeAfter scoring a franchise record 70 points in the first half, the Heat look to take over this series on the road. If Miami can continue to get production from role players as I stated in the last article on this series, there is no stopping them. The role players outshot the Pacers 28-16, which was the X factor in game 3. Not only was the bench dominate, but “Birdman” or Chris Anderson is a remarkable 15-15 shooting this series.The Pacers, on the other hand, look to protect home court where they have been solid winning 86% of the time this playoff stretch. If Indiana can slow down Miami’s new found post game then they have a solid chance to even the series tonight. Hibbert and West will need there guards to spread the floor for there play to prosper tonight. Ultimately whichever team can control the pace and turnover battle will take this one. However since the spread is low which makes me think Vegas wants Pacer action, Heat is the play.

Play:
Miami -3
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Alex Plumb
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling.  We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

The Betting Corner: NBA Playoffs May 27, 2013

San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies 9PM (ET) ESPN

(Spurs Lead Series 3-0)

chi-spurs-grizzlies-nba-playoffs-20130525-001Game 4 in Memphis, could mean the end to a great run for the Grizz unless they step up and figure out the Spurs defense. San Antonio has been the enforcer in this series finding ways to win the game at all costs for one more shot at the promise land. The key to tonight’s game is foul shooting and rebounding. I feel Memphis can control this game with Randolph and Gasol, limit turnovers, and get back into this series. If not, then this game could get ugly quickly.

Play:
Grizz -2.5
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Alex Plumb
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling.  We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

The Betting Corner: NBA Playoffs May 26, 2013

Miami Heat @Indiana Pacers 8.30PM (ET) TNT

(Series Tied 1-1)

George-Hill-and-Lance-Stephenson-have-to-step-up-in-Game-2.-Nathaniel-S.-Butler-NBA-Getty-ImagesAfter two intense games in Miami, the defending champs take to the road to Indiana, where the Pacers have been undefeated this postseason. If the heat want to take control back, their role players must get out of there shooting funks (Chalmers, Allen, and Battier). If they do get this production, the Heat will not only win, but cover.

Indiana on the other had, has manhandled the Heat on defense and has answered call when needed. If they can pull away in game 3, this series should be a dog fight from here on out. Ultimately, today’s game will come down to, as it has every game this series, turnovers. I feel after a close call at home in game 1 and a bad last minute in game 2, the Heat should be amped up for tonight’s game and steal one back on the road.

Play:
Heat -2

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Alex Plumb
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling.  We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

The Betting Corner: NBA Playoffs May 25, 2013

San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies 9PM (ET) ESPN

(Spurs Lead Series 2-0)

Manu Ginobili, Darrell ArthurAfter two solid performances by San Antonio in games1 and 2, they head on the road to a hostile Memphis crowd. Although no team has won back to back series being down 0-2, Memphis looks for redemption tonight at home. Also, in this series the home team has won matchup 85% of the time dating back the past 4 season playing each other. If San Antonio wants to take a commanding 3-0 lead they will need to ride Parker and Duncan to the finish line with defense and down low control. Although, Memphis is home and it seems like and easy win due to the stat above, the last game was won by a margin of 4. If this holds true in this game ill take the dog in this one.

Play:
Spurs +5
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Alex Plumb
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling.  We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

The Betting Corner: NBA Playoffs May 24, 2013

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat 8.30PM (ET) TNT

(Heat Lead Series 1-0)

9d65c1d1d6004297a2048250088dc129-08da78f6fe074580985fab989d3e1053-3After a tight OT thriller in game 1, I see game 2 to have the real offensive flow to it. Although both teams defenses were solid in game 1, Spolestra always seems to know how to make great game 2 adjustments as he did last series against the bulls.  The pacers key to winning tonight is controlling the boards and not letting the game get out of hand to early with the home crowd. At the end of the day, the heat offense is to much for the pacers in this one and a potential lights out performance from a d wade.

Play:
Heat -7.5

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Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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Alex Plumb
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling.  We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

The Betting Corner: NBA Playoffs May 24, 2013

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat 8.30PM (ET) TNT

(Heat Lead Series 1-0)

9d65c1d1d6004297a2048250088dc129-08da78f6fe074580985fab989d3e1053-3After a tight OT thriller in game 1, I see game 2 to have the real offensive flow to it. Although both teams defenses were solid in game 1, Spolestra always seems to know how to make great game 2 adjustments as he did last series against the bulls.  The pacers key to winning tonight is controlling the boards and not letting the game get out of hand to early with the home crowd. At the end of the day, the heat offense is to much for the pacers in this one and a potential lights out performance from a d wade.

Play:
Heat -7.5

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Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

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Alex Plumb
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TheCover4.com is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site of any kind. We are simply here to provide information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.

All information regarding gambling is intended to be purely educational from an academic perspective, and not to actually encourage gambling.  We are in no way condoning gambling and are not affiliated with any and all casinos/sports books mentioned.

Round 3-NBA Playoffs-Eastern Conference Finals

Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

Presentation1

  • Game 1-May 22 Indiana @ Miami 8:30 p.m. (EST) TNT
  • Game 2-May 24 Indiana @ Miami 8:30 p.m. (EST) TNT
  • Game 3-May 26 Miami @ Indiana 8:30 p.m. (EST) TNT
  • Game 4-May 28 Miami @ Indiana 8:30 p.m. (EST) TNT
  • Game 5-May 30 Indiana @ Miami 8:30 p.m. (EST) TNT
  • Game 6-Jun 1 Miami @ Indiana 8:30 p.m. (EST) TNT
  • Game 7-June 3 Indiana @ Miami 8:30 p.m. (EST) TNT

 

2013 Regular Season Match-up

  • January 8 Miami @ Indiana87-77
  • January 11 Miami @ Indiana102-89
  • March 10 Indiana @ Miami 105-91

Miami Heat Locker Room

In the Eastern Conference finals for a second consecutive year, the Miami Heat are poised for a repeat for the Larry O’Brien trophy. After sweeping the Bucks  and beating the Bulls in five games, they now face their greatest challenge standing between them and a trip to the finals.  Chicago put some scare into the Heat in a couple games while playing without its all star Derrick Rose and Loul Deng. Chicago at times exploited the Heat’s weaknesses and figured out the blueprint to beating the Heat. Keys to beating the Heat are rebounding and points in the paint, at least that’s what Chicago  left us with in game one.The Pacers rank first in the league in rebounding. Yes, defense wins championships, and coaches often say “we have to take away their 3-point shooting”  or ” we have to limit turnovers” to beat the Pacers, the Heat will have to limit their turnovers and open up the 3-point shooting game for Ray Allen and company.

Indiana Pacers’ Locker Room 

The Pacers have George Hill back and hopefully he will stay healthy. Home court advantage has been important for the Pacers as they are 6-0 in the playoffs when playing at home, and are doing so with an average margin of victory of more than 10 points per game. Rebounding and points in the paint have been Indiana’s bread and butter all season long. Solid guard play from Hill, Lance Stephenson and D.J. Augustin has been tremendous in the playoffs combined with the front court trio of Paul George, Roy Hibbert and David West. They have played every style of basketball this playoffs — high flying or low-scoring ground and pound — and that is one of the ingredients to play against the Heat, being able to play with different flows of the game. No question that the Pacers will put up a fight and take the Heat over the edge and frustrate them, if they want to win.

Final Predictions

I have the Grizzlies winning and the West and I really like the Pacers to win the East, but that’s not going to happen. The Heat simply just have too much talent, experience and star power. It’s going to be an exciting series, but King James will lead the Heat to their second consecutive  finals appearance.

Miami Heat wins in 7

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Chin Tan

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