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Avalanche warning in Chicago, and the NHL best bets you need to make this week

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The Colorado Avalanche take their high-scoring forwards on a road trip to the the Midwest while the struggling Nashville Predators play back to back games in New York.

We break down the odds for those games and much more as we bring you the best hockey betting notes, trends and predictions so you can make some bucks on the pucks.

STRUGGLING ALL-STAR

The Nashville Predators and, more specifically, goaltender Pekka Rinne are in a slump. The veteran goalie gave up four more goals on Saturday which brings his total to 29 goals allowed in his last eight games. On Monday, Rinne and the Preds will travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers.

The Rangers averaged nearly four goals a game over their most recent four-game road trip as their power play went 4-for-12 as well. New York also sits fourth in the league in expected goals since December 8.

Nashville has recently been playing better than usual on it’s penalty kill, as it has killed off its last seven penalties, but still sits 24th in the league at 77.5 percent. The Preds are due to give up a PP tally or two and the young guys from New York might oblige. Take the Rangers’ team total Over 2.5.

A BOLT OF OVER

The Ottawa Senators have hit the Over in six of their last eight games as their scoring chance shooting percentage sits fifth-best in December. They have also allowed their opponents to score three or more goals in six of their last eight, making Tuesday’s match against the Tampa Bay Lighting a great spot for an Over.

The Lightning may be the most disappointing team this year as they sit fifth in the Atlantic Division. The Bolts are just 2-5 SU at home in their last seven but the goal-light operator has been busy at the Amalie Arena as Tampa has hit the Over nine times in its last twelve home games.

Tampa Bay has the second-best power play in the league and could get ample opportunity to prove themselves against the Senators’ who are averaging nearly four minor penalties a game in December. Take the Over 6.5 on this Tuesday matchup.

STINGY NETMINDERS

The Carolina Hurricanes have not allowed a regulation goal in over 130 minutes of hockey — a streak that spans three games. On Wednesday, they will square off with the Winnipeg Jets who bounced back Sunday night with a win after losing to the lowly Red Wings on Saturday.

Wednesday night’s tilt has the looks of a low-scoring affair. Both Carolina and Winnipeg sit in the Top-6 in goals against on the season but have been even stingier in December. Combined, the Jets and Canes have allowed just 22 goals in their 11 games this month.

Winnipeg is 4-9-2 O/U at home this year and are 2-5-1 O/U in its last eight while the Hurricanes are 2-9 O/U in their last 11 and 7-9 O/U on the road this year. Hit the Under 5.5 on Tuesday and if it opens at 6, give it a double-tap.

SNOWSTORM HEADED TO CHICAGO

The Colorado Avalanche will take their four-game road winning streak into St. Louis on Monday and then to Chicago on Wednesday. Colorado’s offense is back to full health and has been getting scoring production from its Top-9 forwards. That’s bad news for the Blackhawks who have allowed their opponents to score four or more goals in seven of their last nine and are 2-4 ATS in their last six.

Colorado has been one of the league’s best traveling teams this year and are 11-6 SU on the road and are averaging 3.4 goals a game while playing better defensive hockey than any other club over their last 10 games.

With how hot (and deep) the offense has been of late as well as the stellar play from goalie Pavel Francouz, we are going to ride the Avalanche -1.5 Puck Line on Wednesday night.

GOALIE PROFILE: SEMYON VARLAMOV, NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Nobody thought that Semyon Varlamov would be 11-3-2 with a 2.24 goals against and a .928 save percentage halfway through December, but here we are. The Russian netminder finds himself among the league leaders in most goalie stats and has been a winner in each of his last four starts.

On Tuesday, the Islanders will host the Nashville Predators who will have to do something most teams haven’t been able to do this year, which is score goals in Long Island. Varlamov and the Islanders have not allowed an opponent to score more than two goals at home in six of their last eight. New York has just shut it down defensively this month and allows the fewest goals against at home.

We feel that the Islanders’ ML is the right play here, but if it is outpriced (below -140) we have no problems taking the Under 2.5 on the Predators’ team total.

INJURY UPDATE: F JARED SPURGEON, MINNESOTA WILD

The Minnesota Wild have climbed up the Western Conference standings of late having picked up the second-most points in the West over their last 10 games. Things could be getting even better with the return of defenseman Jared Spurgeon this week.

Spurgeon has been out since December 3 and was second on the team in average ice time at 23:15 a game. Getting the D-man back for Tuesday’s contest against the Vegas Golden Knights could be a big boost for the Wild’s special teams as Spurgeon plays on the top penalty-killing unit and the second power-play unit. The Wild ML should be a great value with Minnesota playing on the road.

HAT TRICK TRENDS

• The Colorado Avalanche have the league’s best away record on first-period Overs. The Avs are 14-3 O/U first-period totals on the road and will head to St. Louis on Monday to take on the Blues who are 4-2 O/U first-period totals in their last six.

• Under bettors had a great week last week as the Unders in 26 of the 44 games (59%). There are fewer totals of 6.5 these days as the league has seen the Under trend take over. Monday’s opening lines listed zero games at 6.5. The Washington at Columbus total of 6 is looking like our favorite for the Under.

• On Tuesday, the Ottawa Senators will face the Lightning in what will be the tail end of a back-to-back. The Sens should be big underdogs, especially on the road. Ottawa is 5-5 SU in their last 10 games when being a +150 underdog or higher.

PointsBet USA unveils partnership with Detroit Tigers

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In the absence of MLB games until – hopefully – later this month, MLB betting made some news Thursday with the announcement that PointsBet USA is now the official gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers. It’s the first such arrangement between a sports betting entity and an MLB team, made possible by PointsBet USA’s recent agreement with MLB designating the sportsbook as an authorized gaming operator by the league.

“The PointsBet team is excited to announce our groundbreaking deal with the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball, becoming the first legal sports betting operator in U.S. history to partner with an MLB franchise,” PointsBet USA CEO Johnny Aitken said in a news release. “We offer the most betting options in the world on MLB games via our unique PointsBetting product, and we are excited to inject a unique and robust betting proposition into the great state of Michigan.”

Michigan legalized sports betting in December, for both brick-and-mortar and online operators, and books began taking bets in March. PointsBet USA is not only the first book to partner with an MLB franchise, but the first to partner with any Michigan-based professional sports team.

As part of the multi-year deal, PointsBet USA will have TV broadcast-visible branding at Comerica Park, a sponsored presence on the Tigers’ digital platforms, and will be integrated into The District Detroit app and the MLB Ballpark app.

“We are thrilled to welcome PointsBet as a gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers,” said Chris Granger, group president of sports and entertainment for Ilitch Holdings. “Our incredible fans will love the unique experiences and innovative offerings that PointsBet’s personalized platform provides. We look forward to the fan-friendly enhancements this will bring to the game-day experience in and around Comerica Park for years to come.”

NBA betting: Eight seeding games to bet when NBA returns

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NBA betting is back on the board with the NBA season restarting in Orlando after the COVID-19 shutdown. From July 30-August 14, the 22 remaining teams with NBA Championship aspirations will face off against each other to determine playoff seeding, so get ready for some exciting matchups.

We take a look at eight must-bet NBA seeding games to watch as the league returns to action.

Clippers vs Lakers (-1.5, 218.5), July 30, 9 p.m. ET

When the Los Angeles Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, take on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers, the NBA doesn’t get much better than this. Opening day and Christmas Day also featured this marquee matchup and the opening night of the restart in Orlando will mark the fourth time this season that these LA rivals have faced off.

The Lakers are third in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing 106.9 points per game, while the Clippers hold opponents to just 43.6 percent shooting from the field, also third-best in the league. With both teams coming in off lengthy breaks, there may be some rust on the offensive end of the floor making the Under 218.5 an intriguing play.

Betting trend to watch: The Clips won the first two meetings while the Lakers won the last one in March. The Under hit in each of those contests with an average score of 108.7-106.7 in favor of the Clippers.

Celtics vs Bucks (-5, 217.5), July 31, 6:30 p.m. ET

Barring an absolute collapse, the Milwaukee Bucks will wrap up the No. 1 seed in the East, but they will still likely want to play MVP front-runner Giannis Antetokounmpo in this one just to shake off the cobwebs after the break.

This could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals and it will be interesting to see how Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker looks after being hampered by knee issues following the All-Star break. Boston split the series with Milwaukee during the season and Walker torched the Bucks both times, scoring 32 points against them in November and putting up 40 on them in January.

Betting trend to watch: Milwaukee opened as a five-point favorite, with the total set at 217.5, but don’t count out the Celtics, who have gone an impressive 14-4 ATS as an underdog this season.

Rockets vs Mavericks (+1.5, 225.5), July 31, 9 p.m. ET

The battle between James Harden and Luka Doncic will be a treat for basketball fans, but the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks have plenty of firepower in addition to their All-NBA guards.

With the full game total for this contest opening at a reasonable 225.5, keep an eye on the first half total when it drops.

Betting trend to watch: Fast starts have been a trend for both squads, with Houston leading the league with 59.9 first-half points per game and Dallas second with 59.3 ppg. For good measure, the Rockets also rank 25th in the NBA in first-half scoring defense, surrendering 58.1 ppg.

Heat vs Nuggets (-1, 212.5), August 1, 1 p.m ET

Both the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets could see their seeding change dramatically based on how they perform in Orlando. Miami has an absolute gauntlet to run through with its first four games against Denver, Toronto, Boston and Milwaukee.

The Nuggets have long had a massive edge at home, due to the increased elevation at the Pepsi Center, and losing that advantage in Orlando could hurt. Then again, Miami could be in the same boat considering that they posted an average scoring margin of plus-9.3 ppg at home — and that plummeted to minus-2.7 in away contests.

Betting trend to watch: The Heat have been one of the highest-scoring teams in the league during the first quarter, but have really struggled to put the ball in the hoop at the end of games, averaging just 26 ppg in the fourth quarter. With Denver holding opponents to just 26.2 fourth-quarter points per game on the road, this is a trend you’ll want to consider when live betting in the final 12 minutes.

Bucks vs Rockets, August 2, 8:30 p.m. ET

It’s always a blast watching two MVP favorites face off against each other, and after Harden came up short against Antetokounmpo last year there seems to be a lack of respect between the two superstars. The Greek Freak took a potshot at Harden when he selected his team during All-Star weekend, with the Rockets guard responding with, “I wish I could be 7 feet and run and just dunk. Like, that takes no skill at all.”

Betting trend to watch: Unfortunately for the small-ball Rockets, defending in the paint is their biggest weakness, especially after trading away Clint Capela left them with the 6’5″ PJ Tucker often manning the center position. Houston allows 51.5 ppg in the paint, sixth-worst in the league, and Giannis is the most dominant inside scorer since Shaq, putting up 29.6 ppg this season.

Grizzlies vs Pelicans, August 3, 6:30 p.m. ET

Not only will this matchup feature the two best rookies in the league in Ja Morant and Zion Williamson, but it will also be a prime spot for the New Orleans Pelicans to gain ground on the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

New Orleans was impressive on offense even without Zion and have become even more unstoppable since the first-overall draft pick joined the team on January 22. Once Zion joined the fold the Pelicans averaged 120.1 ppg and played at the fastest pace in the league.

Betting trend to watch: Thanks in large part to Morant, Memphis also looks good on the offensive end of the floor, ranking seventh in the league in both possessions per game and shooting percentage. With both teams electrifying on offense – and terrible on defense – this should be a very fun game with the Over worth looking at.

Trail Blazers vs Nuggets, August 6, 8 p.m ET

There might not a more dangerous team currently outside a playoff spot than the Portland Trail Blazers, who arguably boast the second-best backcourt out of all 22 teams in Orlando and will also get center Jusuf Nurkic back from a broken leg. The Nuggets are third in the West but sit only 1.5 games behind the Clippers and 1.5 games ahead of the Jazz, so every game matters.

This is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference semifinals, where the Blazers upset the Nuggets in seven games. In three games head-to-head this year the Nuggets went 3-0 SU and ATS.

Betting trend to watch: Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has struggled against Denver, averaging 21.6 ppg on 37.7 percent shooting over his last seven regular-season games against the Nuggets. Although he played better during the playoff series last season, it was CJ McCollum who carried the Blazers offense, especially in Game 7 when Lillard went 3-17 from the field.

Raptors vs 76ers, August 12, 6:30 p.m. ET

There might not be much on the line if the Toronto Raptors have already secured a seed by this time, but if their nerve-wracking seven-game playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers last year is any indication, this should still be a great game.

Betting trend to watch: It will be interesting to see how these teams play on neutral ground. Toronto has been one of the best teams in the league away from home, going 23-9 SU and 16-15 ATS and posting an average scoring margin of plus-4.2 ppg. On the other hand, the 76ers have been terrible on the road, going 10-24 SU, 9-23 ATS and posting a scoring margin of minus-5.3.