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NHL predictions and betting odds: Running with the Devils

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We are coming down the stretch of regular season NHL betting on the schedule, with postseason races picking up steam this week. Josh Inglis body checks the NHL odds, giving you his best picks and predictions on the ice.

COLORADO AVALANCHE AT LOS ANGELES KINGS

NOT TOO LATE TO CROWN THEM

The Los Angeles Kings have ripped off five straight wins against some of the league’s best teams and host the Avalanche on Monday. Over the winning streak, the Kings have outscored their opponents 16-6 and face a Colorado team that has conceded 10 goals in its last two games.

The Kings have taken three of four points in the previous two matchups this year with the Under hitting comfortably in both those contests. We may be getting on the Kings’ train a little late, but with wins of +260, +155 and +125 in their last three it might be worth a half-unit or more to take L.A. on the moneyline as home underdogs on Monday, especially with the Avs on the backend of a back-to-back.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

LIGHTNING TO ZAP LEAFS’ OFFENSE

The Toronto Maple Leafs return home on Tuesday after a three-game California trip that saw them gain just one of six points. The Buds’ offense has turned stagnant as the usually high-scoring club has potted just three goals in its last three games. The offense will have to find a solution as Tuesday’s opponents, the Tampa Bay Lightning, have scored 10 goals in the two meetings with the Leafs this year.

The Lightning are coming off a huge win on Saturday versus the Bruins and have an 18-4 SU record versus the Atlantic division this year. Toronto, on the other hand, has played to an 11-10 SU record against the Atlantic this year. We are taking the Lightning on the moneyline in what should be decent odds for the away team.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS AT NEW JERSEY DEVILS

RUNNING WITH THE DEVILS

If you are looking for an underdog on Tuesday’s eight-game slate, maybe New Jersey is your team. The Devils host a struggling Pittsburgh Penguins team that has lost its two most recent games by a combined score of 11-4. New Jersey has ripped off five straight wins on home ice which includes wins against the Capitals and Blues.

The surprisingly competitive play from the Devils has a lot to do with its goaltending. Teams have only been scoring 2.44 goals per game in New Jersey since the beginning of February and the team sits second in scoring chance save percentage, fourth in high-danger save percentage and fourth in overall save percentage over that time. We are running with Devils on the moneyline Tuesday night.

NEW YORK RANGERS AT COLORADO AVALANCHE

INTERCONFERENCE SCORING

Sometimes when we are looking for Overs late in the season, digging into interconference games is the best bet. Wednesday brings us an East versus West matchup in the New York Rangers and the Colorado Avalanche. Both teams are scoring and giving up nearly three goals per game over their last five with the Rangers having conceded a league-high 24 goals in their last five. New York has also hit the Over in five straight away games and is 7-2 O/U in its last nine away games versus the West.

Colorado was riding some of the league’s best goaltending but the Avs have looked sloppy defensively of late giving up 13 goals in its last three. Their offense has also turned a bit of a corner having netted three goals or more in five of its last six. We think this game can easily get to 3-3 so we are riding the Over 6 with confidence on Wednesday.

GOALIE PROFILE: JUUSE SAROS, NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Juuse Saros has taken over the No. 1 spot in Nashville as he has started 14 of the Predators’ last 20 games. Over those 14 games, the young goaltender has a 10-4 record with three shutouts including back-to-back blankings of the Stars last Thursday and Saturday.

The Under has hit in Saros’ last three games and Nashville is 0-3 O/U in its last three away games ahead of its road trip that will see stops in Montreal on Tuesday, Toronto on Thursday and Columbus on Saturday. We are riding the Preds’ new recipe for victory which is to keep the scoring to a minimum. Nashville is on strict Under protocol going forward.

INJURY UPDATE: VICTOR HEDMAN D, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

The Lightning may be without stud defenseman Victor Hedman for Tuesday’s match with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hedman is nearly a point-per-game d-man and captain of the powerplay. The veteran is dealing with a lower-body injury and already missed Sunday’s game against the Red Wings.

Tampa Bay has scored 47 powerplay goals on the year with Hedman getting a point on 22 them. With the team scoring on the PP at 26 percent over the last three weeks, we are expecting a regression with the man advantage. The Lighting may be a good team to back the Under with Hedman on the shelf, especially while on the road as they are 15-18-1 O/U away from Tampa on the season.

HAT TRICK TRENDS

• The underdogs crushed it over the last seven days going 27-20 SU for 57.2 percent. Home dogs led the charge with an 11-6 record for an impressive 64 percent. Over the last month, dogs have been hitting at 45 percent and 44 percent across the season.
• The Dallas Stars have the best Under record on home ice in the league. On the year, the Stars are 8-24-1 O/U at home and host the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The New York Islanders have one of the best away Under records as they sit 9-19-4 O/U on the road this year. They travel to Vancouver on Tuesday.
• Looking at teams’ goals for and against over the last two weeks, the Washington Capitals, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators are the only teams that averaging at least three goals a game and allowing at least three goals a game.

Odds to win the 2019-20 Stanley Cup

Team Odds to win 2019-20 Stanley Cup
Boston Bruins +500
St. Louis Blues +650
Colorado Avalanche +650
Tampa Bay Lightning +700
Vegas Golden Knights +800
Washington Capitals +1,100
Dallas Stars +1,400
Pittsburgh Penguins +1,400
Philadelphia Flyers +1,400
Edmonton Oilers +1,800
Toronto Maple Leafs +2,000
New York Islanders +2,200
Calgary Flames +2,500
Vancouver Canucks +2,800
Carolina Hurricanes +2,800
Columbus Blue Jackets +3,000
Nashville Predators +3,500
Minnesota Wild +4,000
New York Rangers +4,000
Winnipeg Jets +4,000
Arizona Coyotes +4,000
Florida Panthers +7,000
Buffalo Sabres +25,000
Montreal Canadiens +25,000
Chicago Blackhawks +27,500
San Jose Sharks +100,000
Anaheim Ducks +200,000
New Jersey Devils +200,000
Los Angeles Kings +300,000
Ottawa Senators +400,000
Detroit Red Wings OTB

Longshots to consider when betting the Shoemaker Mile

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Monday’s Shoemaker Miles Stakes at Santa Anita Park is a great race for a number of reasons. For starters, the Shoemaker Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race that offers the winner a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

The race also features last year’s Preakness Stakes winner, War of Will, making his season debut. Despite his triumphs on the dirt in 2019, War of Will started his career on the turf and his pedigree suggests that he’s very likely to be just as successful on the grass. That said, the Shoemaker Mile will be his first start off of a six-month break, and I’m going to try to take a swing or two with some horses who could upset the apple cart at longer odds.

Let’s start out with the horse on the rail, Without Parole. He won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes going a mile at Ascot back in 2018. His three other career wins have all came at this mile distance as well. Granted, he hasn’t won in six races since the St. James’s Palace but he did finish a fast-closing third two starts ago in a much tougher U.S. debut in the TVG Breeders’ Cup MileIrad Ortiz Jr. rode Without Parole in that race and he will reclaim the mount on him again on Monday.

Without Parole has only had one race this year and it was in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in which he finished second to last. However, he had several excuses right from the start of that race when he got squeezed coming out of the gate. He also raced in traffic throughout and got cut off several times in the stretch before Frankie Dettori — who had come from Europe to ride him at Gulfstream — finally just wrapped up on him. The Pegasus World Cup Turf also was a race that didn’t allow him to run on Lasix (furosemide) after he’d shown significant improvement racing on Lasix for the first time at the Breeders’ Cup.

Stream the 2020 Shoemaker Mile live here

How much of a factor might Lasix be for some horses? Well, let’s next look at the horse who finished last in the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Next Shares. In his following start (back on Lasix) in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, Next Shares finished third (beaten just a neck) to River Boyne. Both Next Shares and River Boyne return in the Shoemaker Mile and I prefer the former as a pace play who has plenty of back-class. If you rewatch the Kilroe Mile, Next Shares covered a lot more ground than River Boyne. With a similar effort, Next Shares could certainly turn the tables.

The other thing to like about Next Shares is that his trainer, Richard Baltas, has entered speedster Neptune’s Storm in the Shoemaker Mile. That horse, along with Voodoo Song, should ensure a very brisk pace up front — they’ll also be kept honest by Blitzkrieg and War of Will, both of whom usually race on or near the lead. All of that speed adds up to good news for Next Shares. He’s a Grade 1 winner who has always done his best running when he’s had some pace to run into. The other two keys for him (like all stalking or closing-type runners) is clear running room late, and hopefully he’ll get that with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez taking the mount.

Lastly, we should take a look at True Valour. It’s hard to make much of an excuse for his flat finish in the Kilroe last out, but he’s truly performed better than what his results on paper might indicate. In the Thunder Road Stakes in February, he looked pretty keen early and it took him a few strides to settle down without throwing his head around and fighting his rider. Turning for home, it was clear that jockey Andrea Atzeni had plenty of horse under him but was just waiting for some running room. It ended up coming too late because River Boyne was in a better spot and had already taken command. True Valour did split horses nicely in the closing stages and was half a jump away from finishing second.

If you go back to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, True Valour had excuses there, too. He was up on heels early and he again took a little bit of time to settle down into a comfortable stride. Then, turning for him, he was just waiting for running room but instead got stuck behind a wall of horses. True Valour ended up steadying pretty badly and lost all chance at that point. I’m a little worried about how headstrong he tends to be early in races, but there’s a scenario here that could have at least two horses battling for the lead early and opening up some daylight on the rest of the field. That means he’ll be less likely to be running up on anyone’s heels and it also ensures that he’ll have a nice setup. Whether he can navigate clear passage late in the race is a separate matter.

Longshot Selections

#1 Without Parole

#3 Next Shares

#2 True Valour

Watch the Shoemaker Mile on Monday, May 25 from 6-8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

How to bet an exacta on a horse race

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Betting an exacta can present a challenge on several levels.

There is, of course, the primary need to analyze past performances and decide which horses are going to finish first and second.

Yet because of the inherently lower payoffs as opposed to what you’ll find in a Pick 3 or Pick 4, you’ll need to structure your wagers effectively in order to turn your selections into a profitable wager.

For starters, an exacta can be a simple wager. If you like two horses equally, you can just box them in the exacta and collect so long as they finish 1-2 in any order. If you like one of them a little more, you can then bet more on the one you prefer, say $10 on a 1-2 exacta and $5 on 2-1.

If you’re a little more uncertain, make sure you structure your bet around the size of the field and the probable payoffs.

If you like a longshot, the higher probable payoffs give you the cushion you need to wager on more combinations and still turn a nice profit.

But if you’re dealing with favorites or horses at relatively low odds, you have to wager more efficiently to preserve your profit.

In a field of six or less, you’re best to either focus on one horse or box two of them instead of boxing three or more horses because of the small payouts the bet will most likely generate.

In a field of seven, a wise strategy would be to box your top two choices and then, if you are worried about other horses, play them top and/or bottom other the other horses. For example, box 1-2, then bet 1-2 over 3-4 and 3-4 over 1-2. This way you are getting coverage on four horses without having to box them.

Once you get an eight-horse field, as long as there is not an overwhelming favorite, you can expand the number of horses you box since the payoffs will typically be higher, giving you a better opportunity to offset the inevitable array of losing tickets in a boxed wager.