Thankfully hockey is still going | NevadaAppeal.com

Thankfully hockey is still going

Joe Ellison
Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist

Wednesday night with Carolina up 3 games to 1 and playing at home, it sure looked like the Hurricanes would soon be crowned champions of the National Hockey League. The Stanley Cup was in the building and the ceremony had already been rehearsed. One more win and they would be carrying around the sacred trophy in front of their home fans.

But no! In the best and most important game of an exciting season, Edmonton scored a short-handed goal in overtime to spoil the party.

In hindsight, we should have expected it. Considering the excellence of this year’s playoffs, it would only make sense that there would need to be at least one more great battle. Of the 81 postseason games so far, 39 were won by the road team, 20 went into overtime, and a remarkable 46 were decided by a one-goal margin. With two small market ex-World Hockey Association clubs duking it out, we should have known things would not come too easy for either team. Carolina management’s decision to rehearse the ceremony just motivated Edmonton even more.

Prediction – In the wake of goaltender Dwayne Roloson’s Game 1 injury, Edmonton back-up Jussi Markkanen has steadied the ship, which is amazing when you learn that the Finn last played in a game on March 1. With his help, Games 3 and 4 in Edmonton finished with final scores of 2-1. It would be heaven-sent to see a deciding Game 7 for the Cup on Monday, so the pick in tomorrow’s Game 6 is Edmonton and Under.

If the Oilers do win Game 6, home ice will prove to be too much to overcome in Game 7, as Carolina will eventually prevail. In the last 29 occurrences, only Chicago in 1971 has blown a 2-0 Finals lead like Carolina had.

Note: No lame excuses left for true sports fans, as the games are now being televised on NBC.

NBA

Not knowing who won last night’s game makes predicting the outcome of Sunday’s contest more of a chore. But either way, with the pre-Finals pick of Dallas in 6, that means the Mavericks must leave Miami with a 3-2 series lead. If the Mavs won last night, the pick is Miami and Over in Game 5. If Miami won yesterday, the choice is Dallas and Over.

The NBA would just love to stretch the Finals to at least 6 games. Dallas will cover the point spread Tuesday, and the game will go Under.

WORLD CUP SOCCER

The United States is in very deep trouble after its disappointing 3-0 loss to the Czech Republic. Now the U.S. must at least tie Italy tomorrow, and probably need to win in order to have a realistic chance of advancing out of its first round group.

It is apparent now that the United States definitely got hosed in the pre-tournament draw. Even though the U.S. was ranked No. 5 in the world, it was placed in the same bracket with No. 2 rated Czech Republic, a team that didn’t lose a single match in qualifying. Putting the tradition of 3-time champion Italy in the same group made circumstances even more brutal. If the U.S. had switched places with Spain, it would have played Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Ukraine, and easily advanced.

Prediction – In the last two World Cups, only one team has advanced to the second round after losing its first game. The United States should lose to powerful Italy, and will go home under excessive criticism.

Best bets in this weekend’s games – Argentina, Holland, Mexico, Portugal, and Czech Republic.

COLLEGE WORLD SERIES

If this event ends up anything like the women’s softball championship, it should be very exciting. Only Oregon State returns from last year’s field, and four teams are from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Prediction – Cal-State Fullerton gave up the least runs in regional and super-regional play. Fullerton State defeats Rice for the title.