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NHL: Canadiens and Capitals in Colossal Finale

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Apr/28/2010

Doesn't it just figure, even the team with the best record in the NHL this past regular season is having a hard time in the playoffs. The Washington Capitals have been pushed to the brink of elimination by Montreal and need to win tonight's Game 7 to advance to the second round. Washington is a heavy home favorite at Sportsbook.com, but such was the case in Game 5, a game which they lost 2-1.

Montreal has picked their spots to score in winning three times in this series and their defense has been relentless in attacking the Capitals.

When these types of upsets occur or potentially happen in the playoffs, the goaltender is always in the middle. Halak has stopped 90 of Washington's last 92 shot attempts and the Canadiens penalty kill defense has thwarted the Caps like a state trooper, leaving them with one goal in the net in 30 tries.

Montreal will certainly have confidence if not the odds-makers support with consecutive upset victories and two wins at the Verizon Center in this series. The Canadiens are +245 money line underdogs at Sportsbook.com with total again at six. Montreal is 6-3 on the road when the total is six or more this season and believes in their goaltender after he had an unfathomable 53 saves in Game 6.

"It'll be on ESPN Classic tomorrow as one of the greatest goalie performances," said the Habs Michael Cammalleri who scored twice Monday night. "He was making saves that were just exceptional. I couldn't have been more impressed."

"Everybody picked them to win and they're supposed to win," Cammalleri said. "The pressure's on them but at the same time we don't feel any moral victories. We're going to go to Washington excited about playing a hockey game and we're going to play our best game and let the results take care of themselves."

Washington remains convinced they will solve Halak and the Montreal defense with their barrage of shots. "The dam's going to break," Capitals defenseman Joe Corvo said. "He can't save 60 shots again so we'll just put as many shots as we can on him and see what happens."

The Caps will make a few minor adjustments, seeking their 12th win in 13 outings after a two or more Under's. They will believe in their captain Alex Ovechkin, "...It's always this team being good and we'll find a way to break it and win it. No panic, nothing."

The total is the key to Game 7. Washington is 3-0 when the total score has reached six or higher and is 17-5 OVER at home revenging a loss having scored one or fewer goals. (Average total score of seven) Montreal has won all three contests when the number fell beneath six and is 14-6 UNDER away after a home game. (Avg. total of 4.9)

Washington will try to avoid the embarrassment of being the first top seed to lose in the opening round since this playoff format was put in place in 1994.

NBA: Milwaukee at Atlanta - Game 5

The first four games of the NBA first round playoff series between Milwaukee and Atlanta went decidedly to the home teams. The Hawks have to hope that pattern continues tonight, as they welcome the Bucks to town for a pivotal Game 5 contest. Odds-makers at Sportsbook.com figure the home dominance will continue, installing the Hawks as 9-point favorites.

The Hawks believed they reached a point in their growth process that they should be thought of as serious Eastern Conference contenders at the very least. Instead they look very much like the Atlanta team of two years ago, still searching for its true identity against a Milwaukee club that has their best player on the sidelines in a suit.

It's definitely frustrating," guard Joe Johnson said Tuesday after the Hawks practiced for the pivotal fifth game. "We come into this situation talking so much about what we're going to do-this and that, this and that-yet we haven't done nothing. We haven't done nothing we set out to do."

Atlanta is a miserable road playoff team but returns home where the comfort level is more to their liking. The Hawks are 36-7 and 27-16 ATS at Phillips Arena, winning by 8.6 points per contest. Atlanta has won 14 consecutive home games and is 7-2 ATS in its last nine.

Milwaukee is receiving different contributions, which has helped them overcome the loss of Andrew Bogut. Dan Gadzuric has given valuable minutes off the bench and Carlos Delfino buried six 3-pointers in Game 4 to help the Bucks square the series. They are 27-12 ATS coming off a home game this season.

Sportsbook.com has Atlanta as nine-point favorites with total of 192 and they are 9-19 ATS revenging a straight up loss vs. opponent as a favorite. Milwaukee is far from solid sports betting wager with 2-8-1 ATS mark as playoff underdogs.

TNT has this Eastern conflict at 8:00 Eastern and the Hawks are 16-6 OVER as a home favorite of 6.5 to 12 points. The StatFox Power Rating gives a decisive edge to the visiting Bucks, indicating Atlanta should only be favored by 2-points.

NBA: Utah at Denver - Game 5

The Denver Nuggets have fallen behind three games to one in their Best-of-7 first round series with the Utah Jazz. The good news is that Denver would play two of the series' final three games at home if it was to get that far. The bad news is that Denver looks nothing like a team capable of rallying with its back against the wall at this point. Still, the Nuggets are 7-point favorites for Wednesday's contest according to Sportsbook.com.

The Nuggets had a day to recant their feelings about losing Game 4 and falling to 3-1 deficit against Utah. Carmelo Anthony said he was misunderstood when he was quoted as saying he couldn't beat Utah by himself. J.R. Smith, the ultimate team player (?), tweeted his teammates are being selfish and interim coach Adrian Dantley wondered aloud how a player could score 39 points and still commit nine turnovers, like Carmelo did in last contest.

Yup, the Nuggets are now just one big happy family as they prepare for Game 5 at home. "A lot of people took what I said when I said I needed help the wrong way. But I talked to my teammates. They know what I meant," Anthony said after Tuesday's practice. "We talk basketball every day, so they know I'm not pointing nobody out individually.

"I'm not saying I'm playing the best I can play. I'm in there with them. We're all losing together."

Denver is losing on the defensive end, conceding 112.2 points a contest to the Jazz, who are shooting over 50 percent for the series. The Nuggets players should be dressed as matadors, since they let Utah players by them while holding their plastic swords. Somebody on this team needs to take the role of leadership and get his team fired up. If so, Denver improves on 26-11 ATS record at home after allowing 105 points or more three straight games.

While the Nuggets might need a team meeting with Dr. Phil, Utah is relishing its opportunity and focused on the task at hand. Deron Williams was asked about the frustrations Denver is feeling, "Let's worry about us. Whatever they say is what they say. We're just worried about winning this next game and closing the series out." he said.

The Jazz are 12-2 ATS after a contest where both teams scored 105 points or more this season and Carlos Boozer won't have any talk about what a great spot his team is in. "We're not going to fall into the trap of thinking that we've won the series. We haven't. We have a lead in the series. We haven't won anything." - The former Duke star stated.

Sportsbook.com currently has Denver as a seven-point favorite and is 16-3 ATS as a home favorite of 6.5 to 9 points. With the total at 215, the Nuggets have to play better defense and are 21-7 UNDER in the first round of the postseason. Utah is 20-7 ATS when playing only their second game in five days and is 7-1 OVER in last eight visits to the Mile High City. This true Western shootout begins right after the Bucks and Hawks.

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