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Nats dealing with COVID-19 outbreak

Author: Simon Sharkey
Published: 2021-07-29

Major League Baseball has postponed Wednesday's game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Nationals' clubhouse.

Shortstop Trea Turner, who has been the subject of trade rumors this week, was pulled from Tuesday's game after testing positive for the virus.

Manager Dave Martinez told reporters Wednesday that the team has received 12 positive tests, with four players, including Turner, among the positives, according to MASN's Mark Zuckerman. Some of those affected are experiencing symptoms, though nobody is "very sick," Martinez said.

Contact tracing is now underway, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The game will be made up on Thursday as part of a straight doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park beginning at 12:05 p.m. ET.

The Nationals previously reached the 85% vaccination threshold, according to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. By reaching that mark, the team was allowed to have relaxed COVID-19 protocols at the start of this season.

Washington also experienced a COVID-19 outbreak at the start of this season.

Philadelphia has battled its own COVID-19 issues this year, including an outbreak earlier this month. The Phillies are one of the few teams that haven't reached the 85% threshold.




NBA Finals Game 6 Betting Preview and Predictions

Author: Nick Hub
Published: 2021-07-20

In what has been an exciting NBA Finals series, we are set for game 6 at Fiserv Forum between the Phenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks for what could be an elimination game.  These offenses couldn’t be stopped in Game 5, as the Suns shot 55.2 percent from the floor and the Bucks shot 57.5 percent. The third quarter explosion by Milwaukee really changed things for total bettors, as the Bucks weren’t missing shots and it forced the Suns to pick up the pace just to try to keep up.  In a Game 6 in which Phoenix will be fighting for its life, look for things to be a bit more intense. The Suns know that they need to play a lot harder in order to get back in this series. Milwaukee is looking to win their second NBA Championship and first since 1971. Meanwhile, the Suns have their backs against the wall and must win to survive and force a Game 7 in Phoenix. The public sees a total of 242 points scored in the last game and says this has to go over. However, this recency bias may provide a buy low under opportunity. Over the past decade, playoff unders in Games 6 and 7 have cashed at roughly a 58% clip. This is often due to tired legs, a greater emphasis on defense and the importance and pressure of an elimination game. Additionally, it seems like everyone is on the Bucks tonight to win the championship which makes me play contrarian and lean towards the Suns.  However, the play tonight will be on the total.

 

Take Under 222




Jacob Stallings's Walk-Off Grand Slam Propel Pirates Past Mets

Author: Joseph Salvador
Published: 2021-07-18

In the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded, Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings swung away at Mets closer Edwin Díaz's fastball and as soon as he made contact the crowd at PNC Park erupted.

Stallings homered to left field to complete the 6–0 comeback and win the game 9–7. 

The Mets kept the Pirates scoreless in the first seven frames until a red-hot eighth inning for the home team. Pittsburgh scored five runs in the eighth to make it just a one-run game in the ninth. 

Brandon Nimmo homered to center field to give the Mets some cushion going into the bottom of the ninth but it there was blood in the water.

Stallings walk-off grand slam brought home Ke'Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds and Jared Oliva for the storybook ending. 

The Pirates improve to 36–56 and the Mets fall to 47–42 on the season. 




Ronald Acuña Jr. Leaves Game With Knee Injury

Author: Nick Selbe
Published: 2021-07-10

Days before the All-Star break, the Braves' disappointing season took a cruel turn for the worse.

Right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. left the game after injuring his right knee while attempting to make a leaping grab near the wall. He immediately fell to the ground in pain and did not attempt to retrieve the ball.

The play resulted in an inside-the-park home run for Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. Acuña eventually needed to get carted off the field.

While the seriousness of the injury is not yet known, it's a devastating blow for one of the game's emerging superstars. Acuña was set to make his second career All-Star start after a stellar start to the season. Entering Saturday's game, the 23-year-old was batting .281/.392/.593 with 24 home runs and 16 stolen bases. He leads the majors with 71 runs scored.

Acuña has finished in the top 12 of MVP voting in each of his first three seasons, winning the 2019 National League Rookie of the Year award. He's a two-time Silver Slugger award winner, and became the ninth-youngest player to hit 100 career home runs in league history earlier this season.




Jeff's 2021 NBA Finals Preview

Author: Jeff Hochman
Published: 2021-07-05

Jeff's 2021 NBA Finals Preview 

 

By Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline

 

 

 

Why the Milwaukee Bucks will Win

 

The Bucks seem to have better spacing and ball movement when the "Greek Freak" is not on the floor. I would never say the Bucks are a better basketball team without Giannis. But, seeing is believing. After some huge performances early, the Bucks adjusted their pick-and-roll defense nicely against Trae Young, who was clearly not 100% in the ladder part of the Eastern Conf. finals. In 17 playoff games, the Bucks had a +6.1 point differential. They averaged 109.8 points per game (10th) while allowing 103.7 which ranks No. 2 against a much easier schedule than Phoenix. With or without Giannis, this is a deep and talented roster. A Bucks series win in six or seven games would not be shocking. The Bucks are 58-31 SU and 42-47 ATS this season in a weak conference.

 

 

 

Why the Phoenix Suns will Win 

 

The Suns have no weakness right now and having home-court advantage will help as well. This team is fast, long, hungry, and their team chemistry is off the charts. The Suns played in the very tougher Western Conference which is not breaking news. Phoenix is 63-25 SU and 53-33-2 ATS to date. That ATS number is ridiculously good and the Suns have exceeded expectations all season long. Are the odds-makers disrespecting the Suns? Time will tell. The Suns are ranked No. 2 in point differential (+7.0) this postseason in 16 games. They averaged 108.9 points per game (11th) while allowing 101.9 points per game which ranks No. 1 in the postseason. 

 

 

Head to Head

 

The Suns won both games by 1 point as four-point home dogs and three-point road underdogs respectively. Giannis had 80 points in the two games combined. If he's out/hobbled for this series, the Bucks are in serious trouble.  

 

Series Price: Phoenix Suns -190, Milwaukee Bucks +170

 

 

The Pick: Phoenix Suns -190

 

The Suns have the No. 1 defense, No. 1 ATS record in quite some time, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Bridges, Crowder. Add in ascending talent Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne.  Saric and Craig can hold their own too. This is a deep, talented, long team that comes in waves. Wings that can  shoot and defend. They can switch every pick-and-roll. To me, it seems like this team is on a mission. For Chris Paul or whatever, they are highly motivated, healthier, and the more talented team. Not sure how many games, but I'm taking the Suns to win the NBA Finals at -190. If Giannis is close to 100%, the series will be much closer but still lean to the Suns.

 

 

 

Good Luck,

Jeff Hochman




Lightning Coach Jon Cooper on Verge of a Familiar Feeling

Author: Stephen Whyno
Published: 2021-07-05

Jon Cooper was a fresh-faced rising star when he coached the Norfolk Admirals to the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup championship in 2012 after going on a 28-game winning streak during the season.

Now, he is one Tampa Bay Lightning victory away from becoming just the second coach in the NHL’s salary-cap era to hoist the Stanley Cup in back-to-back seasons. Cooper is one of many parallels between Norfolk nine years ago and Tampa Bay now, although the former lawyer acknowledges he is better at his job thanks to almost a decade behind the bench in the top hockey league in the world.

“I’m a much more experienced, seasoned, better coach than I was then,” Cooper said. “I’ve learned a ton from other coaches, watching other coaches and then from the game. The longer you’re around and you see tendencies in the game and things that you think you can improve upon, it just takes time. I guess that’s why it’s called experience.”

The experience in 2012 was a building block to this moment. Along with Cooper, Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn were key pieces for the Admirals.

Only three Norfolk players had more points during that playoff run than Johnson. After playing in a reduced role in the 2020 bubble playoffs and even getting put on waivers twice for cap reasons, Johnson got the call to move up in the lineup when Killorn was injured early in the final and delivered.
It was little surprise to Cooper when Johnson scored twice in Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens to put Tampa Bay up 3-0 in the series.

“There’s a reason Tyler Johnson’s trophy case is fairly full, and it’s because he’s an ultimate team player,” Cooper said. “We never lost faith in Tyler Johnson and he never lost faith in himself. Roles change, you have to adapt and nobody has done it better than Tyler.”
Johnson, like Cooper, Killorn, Palat and a few others, is also a link to Tampa Bay’s 2015 run to the final before losing to Chicago. That made Lightning players realize how tough it was to win and fueled them last year and now.

“Don’t know how many chances you’re going to get,” Johnson said. “I know how fun it was last year when we won, so you want to do that again. Anytime you get this close, you really feel it.”
Cooper feels like there are many similarities between the 2012 Admirals and 2021 Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy tending goal like Dustin Tokarski, Steven Stamkos is leading like Norfolk captain Mike Angelidis, and the mentality of each team is the same.

“You have to have an ability to win games that are semi-high scoring and you have to be able to win games 1-0,” said Cooper, who was a finalist for Washington’s head job in the summer of 2012 and promoted to coach Tampa Bay in March 2013. “Both teams had goaltending, both teams had big strong D and both teams had dynamic forwards. But I guess probably the biggest similarity was they were extremely mentally tough where you could go into games at the start of a game and feel like you had the lead already.”

It has looked like that so far against the Canadiens. The Lightning have never trailed, and now they have an opportunity to cap it off just like the Admirals — with a sweep in the final.
None of it would be possible without Cooper, who players enjoy for how he tries to explain hockey in simple terms. That is very un-lawyer-speak of the 53-year-old who quit his job in 1999 to coach full time.

“You can paint a picture black and white a lot of times and be pretty specific and analyze things, but he does a great job of keeping that message positive and keeping that message coming in different directions,” veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “For us, we know that he’s going to set ourselves up and set our team up for success when he is breaking things down.”

Stamkos, one of the handful of players who predated Cooper’s arrival with the Lightning, feels as if he and his teammates have taken on their confident coach’s demeanor. The way he approaches playoff games and series has certainly rubbed off on players and contributed to what’s is closing in on a potential second consecutive Cup win.

“He wants guys to go out there and do what they’re best at and be confident in doing that,” Stamkos said. “He’s obviously grown as a coach since he’s been here in Tampa, but he’s maintained that expectation: that guys go out there and play with what’s gotten them to this level.”
Cooper is now at a coaching level that has him as the leading candidate to be in charge of Canada’s 2022 Olympic team next winter, assuming the NHL reaches an agreement to send players to Beijing. He would then get the chance to coach Lightning star Brayden Point, Canadiens goalie Carey Price and defenseman Shea Weber and maybe Stamkos and against the likes of Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman.

That’s a short tournament and a different kind of test. Cooper has already aced the exam of handling the long NHL season and playoffs.
“He’s one of the best guys at getting us adjustments within a series or adjusting to things in the season ... and handling adversity in different fashions, whether it’s a guy getting hurt or a slump in our play,” McDonagh said. “Just has a great sense of where the room’s at at all times and when to step back and let the players handle it or when he needs to step up and let his voice be heard.”




Betting the NFL Preseason in 2021

Author: Jeff Hochman
Published: 2021-07-01

Betting the NFL Preseason in 2021

 

 

by Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline 

 

 

The Hall of Fame Game is the first NFL preseason game of the year, which closes the annual Hall of Fame enshrinement festivities. On August 5th, 2021, the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers will kick-off the preseason at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. The game marks the seventh appearance by each squad in the annual preseason classic which is tied for the most by any team. Both clubs own 3-3 straight-up record. The game starts at 8:00 PM E and can be viewed on Fox. 

 

You will hear people say "Don't bet on NFL Preseason Football". Big Mistake! It's actually easier than capping the regular season. In most cases you can read ahead of time the exact game plan for each team. I feel the NFL preseason is a great opportunity to start and build a nice bankroll for the upcoming regular season. Many handicappers have the opinion that the preseason games should be left alone and not bet on. I feel just the opposite. If you do your homework--the preseason offers sharps and squares a tremendous opportunity to make a lot of money. Here are my personal keys, stats, systems, angles, reasons, and teams to consider when betting NFL Preseason football in 2021. 

 

 

 

 

1) Depth 

 

 

This one is obvious. Jo public gets so worked up about the starters and skill position players on certain teams during the regular season. But they're the same in the preseason. Teams that can go two-and three-deep (sometimes four-deep) at the skill positions have a decided advantage over a club that has a few stars that will be sitting after the first or second series. A perfect example of a team like that this season, is none other than the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen, Mitchell Trubisky, and Jake Fromm are a solid top three. They signed Davis Webb who has a big arm. Even if Josh Allen plays very little, the next three should give teams fits in August. Don't forget, the Bills have been running Sean McDermott's system for 4 years. The Bills went 4-0 ATS when we last saw the NFL preseason (2019). On the flip side, the Detroit Lions will break in a brand new head coach (see below), new offensive coordinator, and new defensive coordinator. Jared Goff, Tim Boyle, and David Blough will be learning a brand new offense. The Lions' defense will be learning a new scheme as well. I think this team is heading for a rough preseason! 

 

 

Quarterbacks and continuity are key. NFL preseason wagers, just like those during the regular Season, often come down to the last eight minutes of a game. So find teams that have solid depth at QB and/or has some experience or success in the league. They'll have a tremendous advantage in the closing moments of a game against a third and/or fourth-string defense. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Experience 

 

 

I don't necessarily mean which team has the most grizzled veterans on it. In fact, experience can be a detriment. Most older players hate preseason games. And teams that have established players in certain positions or roles will often see those guys "mail it in" during the preseason because they know the games are "meaningless" and already have their "jobs" locked up. 

 

 

However, experience is a key factor when it comes to handicapping coaches/systems. Organizations that haven't experienced much turnaround have a significant advantage over those that are easing in a new brain trust. For example, the Seattle Seahawks have been running Pete Carroll's system since 2010. The Seahawks are going to be much sharper than a team that is going through drastic changes. Take the Philadelphia Eagles for example. They are breaking in a brand new head coach (Nick Sirianni), new offensive coordinator (Shane Steichen), and new defensive coordinator (Johnathan Gannon). Keying on clubs that have familiarity & continuity, and finding teams that are much less comfortable with their new system is a big key when wagering on preseason games. I can't stress this enough!  

 

 

 

 

 

3) First-Year Head Coaches with new team (Full Season)

 

 

We have seven for the 2021-22 season in alphabetical order by team. First year head coaches can be tricky, but generally perform very well in their first August home game.They went 6-1 ATS in their first home game five years ago, 5-2 ATS four years ago, 4-1 ATS three seasons ago and 6-2 ATS in 2019. That adds up to a a bankrolling 21-6 ATS mark the last four preseasons combined! A lot of expectations are put on these guys coming in. They all want to show the Owner, General Manager, players, and fans that he is the right man for the job. Setting the tone early means playing to win in the preseason. With just three games this preseason, it's even more important to win early.

 

 

 Arthur Smith  (Atlanta Falcons)

 

 

Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions)

 

 

David Culley  (Houston Texans)

 

 

Urban Meyer  (Jacksonville Jaguars)

 

 

Brandon Staley (LA Chargers)

 

 

Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles)

 

 

Robert Saleh (NY Jets)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Competition/Philosophy

 

 

 If you know how head coaches were raised and what their philosophies are than you will have a big advantage this August. I will give you one HC that treats the preseason as the regular season. That would be John Harabaugh of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are 17-0 ATS over the past four preseasons. Who needs Bitcoin? His 37-12 ATS overall record in the preseason would have made you a small fortune. On the flip side, Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams clearly hates the preseason. He uses August to scout his younger guys while keeping his starters and key backups healthy. The Rams went 1-3 ATS last year. Sean McVay is 5-8 ATS in his career and it could be much worse. The odds-makers are going to inflate the Rams' opponent lines this August. Be careful! Keep an eye on the Seattle Seahawks this August. Pete Carroll has always played to win in the preseason, evident by a 36-18 (66.6%) ATS record. Seattle went 3-1 ATS in the 2019 preseason after going 0-4 ATS in 2018. That was the first time Pete Carroll and the Seahawks never cashed at least one preseason game. I would expect Seattle to make bettors money once again this August.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 5) Motivation

 

 

If you watched the NFL for any number of years you should know that not every Head Coach cares about winning in the NFL Preseason. Different HC's have different agendas when playing in August and they all pretty much stick to their beliefs. I gave you four very good examples above that should hold true once again this upcoming preseason. Each coach handles the preseason differently. Some put a premium on the second game. For some it's the third or even the fourth back in the day. Some coaches just mess around and tinker with their lineups during the preseason and use it to evaluate their younger guys. But here's the key - and this is a big difference between the regular season and preseason football - most coaches are forthright about what the game plan will be. All you have to do is a little research from the local beat writers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6) Scheduling 

 

 

 

The NFL preseason schedule generally isn't too taxing on the teams and players. But there are quirks. The two teams that play the Hall of Fame Game are a good bet to fade in their next game. If some key players are a bit banged up then you can expect those guys to be watching in street clothes. Keep a close eye on how players from the Cowboys and Steelers come out of the Hall of Fame game. Also, NFL teams who play on the West Coast (with little to no humidity), and than travel to play a high humidity East Coast game. It would be wise to fade those West Coast teams, especially if installed as a favorite. This has worked extremely well over the past few years with the new OTA rules in place.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff's NFL Preseason system to consider in 2021

 

 

If you are looking for a very profitable system/angle in the NFL preseason here is one to consider this year. Teams that get crushed by 28+ points in their first preseason game are a great bet in their very next game (week two). Mostly because the public overreacts and the lines get super inflated. NFL teams in this role are cashing 62% over the past decade. Choose wisely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff's #1 NFL Preseason Team to "Play On" in 2021

 

 

 

Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings went 7-9 SU in 2020. Mike Zimmer is 18-8 ATS (69%) in the preseason and has always played to win August games, especially following a losing regular season. Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Jake Browning, and Nate Stanley seem capable to execute a veteran system. I especially like the Vikings -3 at home against the Colts in week two (August 21st). The Colts play 

Jeff went 16-6-1 ATS (including postseason) last year documented at The Sports Monitor of OK. Look for more articles in the coming weeks. Jeff was ranked No. 3 in the NFL two seasons ago, No. 3 in the 2017-18 NFL regular season, and No. 1 (tied) in the postseason at The Sports Monitor of OK, cashing just under 70%. Jeff has shown a profit in 8 straight football seasons, fully documented. Jeff is a 7x NFL Top 10 Handicapper. Early Bird Football season packages are now available.

 

 

Good Luck this Football Season!

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @jhsportsline




MLB Announces All-Star Game Finalists, Second Phase of Voting Ends July 1

Author: Andrew Gastelum
Published: 2021-06-28

Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. were among the stars to be named finalists to start the MLB All-Star Game. 

Major League Baseball announced the top-three vote-getters at each position (nine in the outfield) from each league. The players will advance to the second round of voting, which ends on July 1 at 2 p.m. ET. The All-Star starters will be announced later that night, while the rest of the MLB All-Stars will be named on July 4. Pitchers and reserves for each team will be determined by a process that considers selections made by the Commissioner’s Office and the player ballot choices.

Notable absentees from the finalists include Cleveland third baseman José Ramírez, Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, Nationals shortstop Trea Turner and Rockies shortstop Trevor Story—although the latter two are widely expected to be named to the NL All-Star team as reserves. Those who are not finalists to start the game can still make the All-Star team, being a finalist doesn't guarantee a spot.

Center fielders Mike Trout (Angels) and Byron Buxton (Twins) were among the AL outfield finalists, but neither are expected to return from injury in time for the All-Star Game on July 13 at Coors Field.

The National League team will be coached for the third consecutive year by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, while Rays manager Kevin Cash will lead the American League side.

Here are the All-Star Game finalists, listed in order of most votes:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Catcher: Salvador Pérez (KC), Martín Maldonado (HOU), Yasmani Grandal (CWS)

First Baseman: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR), Yuli Gurriel (HOU), José Abreu, (CWS)

Second Baseman: Marcus Semien (TOR), José Altuve (HOU), DJ LeMahieu (NYY)

Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (BOS), Bo Bichette (TOR), Carlos Correa (HOU)

Third Baseman: Rafael Devers (BOS), Alex Bregman (HOU), Yoán Moncada (CWS)

Outfielders: Mike Trout (LAA), Aaron Judge (NYY), Byron Buxton (MIN), Michael Brantley (HOU), Adolis García (TEX), Teoscar Hernández (TOR), Cedric Mullins (BAL), Alex Verdugo (BOS), Randal Grichuk (TOR)

Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani (LAA), J.D. Martinez (BOS), Yordan Álvarez, (HOU)


NATIONAL LEAGUE 

Catcher: Buster Posey (SF), Yadier Molina (STL), Willson Contreras (CHC)

First Baseman: Max Muncy (LAD), Freddie Freeman (ATL), Anthony Rizzo (CHC)

Second Baseman: Ozzie Albies (ATL), Adam Frazier (PIT), Gavin Lux (LAD)

Shortstop: Fernando Tatís Jr. (SD), Javier Báez (CHC), Brandon Crawford (SF)

Third Baseman: Kris Bryant (CHC), Nolan Arenado (STL), Justin Turner (LAD)

Outfielders: Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL), Nick Castellanos (CIN), Jesse Winker (CIN), Mookie Betts (LAD), Chris Taylor (LAD), Juan Soto (WSH), Bryce Harper (PHI), Joc Pederson (CHC), Mike Yastrzemski (SF)




Cubs Use Four Pitchers to Throw 2021's Seventh No-Hitter Against Dodgers

Author: Nick Selbe
Published: 2021-06-25

Did you really think we'd get through June without another no-hitter?

Hours after the Red Sox lost a combined no-hit bid against the Rays in the eighth inning, the Cubs went the distance, using four pitchers to no-hit the Dodgers in Thursday's 4-0 win.
Right-hander Zach Davies started the game and went six innings, walking five batters with four strikeouts. Ryan Tepera pitched the seventh, while Andrew Chafin tossed a hitless eighth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel came on for the ninth and walked Chris Taylor to lead off the inning before striking out the next three hitters.

The combined no-hitter was the seventh of the 2021 season and first since Corey Kluber's on May 19. That ties the modern record, joining the 1990, 1991 and 2012 seasons. The most all-time is eight, which happened in 1884.
Of the seven no-hitters in 2021, this is the first utilizing multiple pitchers. The Red Sox took a combined no-hit bid into the eighth inning on Thursday but eventually lost, 1-0, to the Rays on a walk-off wild pitch.

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This is the 17th no-hitter in Cubs history and fourth in the last seven years. It's also the first combined no-hitter in team history. The last Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Alec Mills on Sept. 13, 2020. The last time the Dodgers were no-hit at home was also against the Cubs on Aug. 30, 2015.




Islanders on the Brink of Elimination After Massive Loss

Author: Fred Goodall
Published: 2021-06-22

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — There was no panic in the Tampa Bay Lightning — just another determined performance against the New York Islanders.

Steven Stamkos had two goals and an assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy notched his fourth career playoff shutout, helping the defending Stanley Cup champions rout the Islanders 8-0 in Game 5 of their semifinal playoff series on Monday night.

“I like to think we play determined all the time, not just tonight,” coach Jon Cooper said after his team moved within one victory of a return to the Stanley Cup Final.

“It’s certainly a response and a mindset and it starts with our goalie,” Stamkos said.

“Vasy just has an amazing ability to bounce back whether he plays great or he doesn’t play great. But when we lose, he takes that personally,” the Lightning captain added. “He was outstanding, made some big saves early, settles us down, we get some goals and get some confidence.”
The Lightning improved to 13-0 in games following a postseason loss since launching their 2020 title run and will take a 3-2 series lead over the Islanders into Game 6 of their best-of-seven matchup Wednesday night in Uniondale, New York.
Game 7, if necessary, would be back in Florida on Friday.

“We’re going to have to have our best game, the best effort from every player on our team. And if we do that, we’ll be back here for Game 7,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.

“This result, how we played, if that doesn’t motivate us then I’m not too sure what will,” Trotz added. “We put ourselves in a tough bind.”

Stamkos ignited a three-goal opening period — the first against the Islanders all season — by scoring just 45 seconds into the game. His power-play goal at 5:42 of the second began another three-goal period that made it 6-0.
Alex Killorn finished with two goals, Brayden Point delivered his 13th of the playoffs, and postseason scoring leader Nikita Kucherov extended his career-best playoff points streak to eight games with three assists for Tampa Bay, which hasn’t lost consecutive playoff games since being swept by Columbus in the first round in 2019.
Point has scored a goal in eight straight games, the second-longest stretch within a single postseason in NHL history.

“It’s playoff time. It’s not about personal stats. Wins are what matter,” said Point, whose power-play goal made it 7-0.

Vasilevskiy, meanwhile, stopped all 21 shots he faced for his third playoff shutout this year. The Vezina Trophy finalist also blanked Florida and Carolina in series-clinchers in the first two rounds.
Essentially taking up where the Lightning left off in a furious third-period rally that just fell short in a 3-2 loss in Game 4, Stamkos, Yanni Gourde and Killorn scored in the first 15:27 to make quick work of Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who was replaced by Ilya Sorokin after yielding three goals on just 16 shots.

“This group has a lot of pride. ... I thought our response (in third period Saturday) carried over to tonight,” Cooper said. “I loved the effort. But in the end, it’s one win. It’s a clean slate in two nights.”
The Islanders held on to win Game 4, evening the series at two games apiece, when defenseman Ryan Pulock’s diving stop in the closing seconds prevented the Lightning from forcing overtime. But since using a three-goal period of its own to take command Saturday night, New York has been outscored 10-0 over the last four periods of the series.

“A loss is a loss this time of year. Whether it’s in double overtime or how it was tonight,” New York forward Kyle Palmieri said.
“We’re going to wake up down 3-2, heading home with our backs against the wall,” Palmieri added. “But we have a chance to win a game at home and that’s all we’re focused on now.”

UNMATCHED RESILIENCE

Tampa Bay’s sparkling record in games following a playoff loss comes on the heels of being swept by Columbus in the first round two years ago. It’s the longest such streak in NHL history, and Vasilevskiy has been the goaltender in each of the victories. Kucherov has a team-leading 26 points (5 goals, 21 assists) in the 13 games.

POINT’S STREAK

Point, who leads the league with 13 goals this postseason, is the second player in NHL history to score a goal in at least eight consecutive playoff games in a single year. Reggie Leach had a 10-game goal streak for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.

COSTLY PENALTY

Islanders center Mathew Barzel sat out the third period after drawing a major penalty for crosschecking Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta as the second period came to a close. Barzel was also drew a game misconduct penalty.

QUICK STARTERS

The Lightning are 11-1 when scoring the first goal this postseason, 0-4 when they haven’t.




Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes Featured as 'Madden 22' Cover Athletes

Author: Michael Shapiro
Published: 2021-06-17

A pair of future Hall of Famers will serve as the faces of EA Sports' Madden NFL 22 as Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes were announced as the franchise's latest cover athletes on Thursday.

Brady and Mahomes squared off on the gridiron in February, a 31–9 Buccaneers win in Super Bowl LV. Nowadays, though, there doesn't seem to be many hard feelings from Mahomes as he now shares the Madden stage with his Super Bowl rival. 
Madden NFL 22 marks the second time in three years that Mahomes has been featured on the game's cover. Kansas City's quarterback was also the cover athlete for Madden NFL 20, two years after Brady was featured on the cover of Madden NFL 18. Brady and Mahomes are the first athletes to be featured on the Madden cover twice.

Let's hope neither Brady nor Mahomes falls prey to the Madden curse during the 2021–22 season. Michael Vick suffered a season-ending injury after being featured in the Madden NFL 04 cover, and former Browns running back Peyton Hillis never ran for more than 600 yards in a season after starring in Madden NFL 12.
Madden NFL 22 will mark the franchise's 34th installment dating back to 1988, when it was called John Madden Football. An offensive player has graced 10 of the last 11 covers dating back to 2011, with Richard Sherman serving as the lone defensive cover athlete.