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I'm Stanley Cup smart after gutful of 'Old Style'

May 27, 2008 7:00 PM

Power Plays by Kevin Stott |

PLAYOFFS
SEASON
PCT
26-23-1 157-97-9 61.8

When GamingToday Managing Editor David Stratton hired me in December, I had no idea what I’d be writing about. I knew I loved to bet and watched almost all sports seemingly 24/7, but to find a niche in a roster of handicapping talent like ours seemed more like wishful thinking.

On my first day of work, Sports Editor Mark Mayer (pronounced MAY-er) said, "We need a hockey guy." I thought, "That’s it. I know hockey. I’ve been following it for years, even pounded a hole in the old Chicago Stadium during a Blackhawks’ playoff game decades ago thanks to a Denis Savard goal and a gutful of Old Style."

I’ve basically been addicted to betting the sport since moving to Sin City in 1991. A year later the San Jose Sharks lost 17 straight games – much to my financial healthback when Palace Station acted as my second home.

And so it is. Power Plays. But I realize my 61.8 percent winning record doesn’t add up to a massive profit in the NHL. I bet hockey and am probably lucky to be even after what the money lines translate.

For the postseason, the best bet is to tone the amounts way down (66-75 percent) and try to just enjoy the games. Picking a Red Wings-Penguins winner (game or series) is like picking which state is more Dakota-ish, South or North?

GT’s horse handicapping maven Richard Saber said it best in last week’s issue when talking about trying to bet Big Brown at 1-5 at the Preakness Stakes: "So we will just sit back and handicap some of the races around the country and try to find a 10-1 shot to bet our hard-earned $2 on."

In hockey, that means waiting for the Lightning and Blues to play.

Enough jabberwocky. Let’s look at Games 3, 4 and 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals this week:

Wednesday, May 28

Red Wings at Penguins (G3) (Versus): Pittsburgh was used to scoring the first goal and coasting, but not so in Game 1 at Detroit, where the Wings posted a 4-0 win.Now the Penguins head back to the Igloo either down 2-0 or even at 1-1. What I do know is that Pittsburgh has won 16 straight at home and that’s a very powerful stat. The building must really be magical or something. PENGUINS.

Saturday, May 31

Red Wings at Penguins (G4) (NBC): Even if Detroit’s Johan Franzen is back, there are so many skilled players on both squads that he won’t be the surprise scorer he was in the Predators series. With Hossa and Staal finding ways to score for the Pens, stopping Malkin and Crosby becomes even harder. I’ll take the home team, knowing they need to sweep these games in Pittsburgh. PENGUINS.

Monday, June 2

Penguins at Red Wings (G5): This "if necessary" game will likely be needed with two such talented teams. I see defenses tightening up in this crucial game. Take the UNDER if the total is still set at 5½ and hope Osgood and Fleury are on.

Overtime

TV ratings are up 75 percent on Versus and 15 percent on NBC this year. Game 2 of the Pens-Flyers series drew the cable network’s highest hockey rating ever with 2,345,834 viewers.