The Daily Sweat: NHL playoffs get to take center stage as NBA takes Thursday off

·3-min read

Somehow, there are no NBA playoff games scheduled for Thursday. That seems like a strange decision.

It does give the NHL playoffs a time to shine.

Playoff hockey is fantastic and it has a bigger platform this year and moving forward. ESPN carried the first three days of the NHL playoffs and on Thursday the TNT/TBS combination take over for the four games. There has already been plenty of intrigue.

The Thursday games include a series that had three overtimes in Game 1, a Presidents' Trophy winner who had a shocking loss to start the playoffs, a team that solidified its status as the Stanley Cup favorites and another under-the-radar team out west that could make a run.

Let's break them all down, with all the odds from BetMGM:

Penguins at Rangers (-160): The Penguins got a huge triple-overtime win in Game 1 despite losing goalie Casey DeSmith to an injury in the second overtime. DeSmith is labeled as day-to-day. It's playoff time, so getting injury information is tough. Either way, the Rangers should bounce back and even the series.

Capitals at Panthers (-250): The Panthers had the NHL's best record, then promptly lost 4-2 in Game 1. Uh oh. The Capitals have experience and maybe that's a factor in this series. NHL first-round upsets happen way more often than they do in the NHL. Still, I can't imagine Florida goes down 0-2. Another zig-zag theory pick, and taking the puck line at Panthers -1.5 with +100 odds might be more palatable than laying that big -250 number.

Predators at Avalanche (-400): The Avs were up 5-0 in the first period of Game 1. They're scary. If you are thinking of taking the Preds, remember this quote from Calgary coach Darryl Sutter:

Stars at Flames (-250): Speaking of Calgary, the Flames are up 1-0 in the series after a 1-0 Game 1 win. The Flames have been playing well for a while and I won't rely on the zig zag theory here. The price is steep so if you want to parlay them with the Avalanche or Panthers it makes sense.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the NHL playoff series. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning goal against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the NHL playoff series. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Here's the first look at the betting slate for Thursday:

MLB has a 10-game slate

A few MLB teams have the day off, but there are still 10 games on the docket. That includes three afternoon games (four if you count an early-ish 6:10 p.m. start between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Guardians).

The first game is a good one, as the Los Angeles Angels face the Boston Red Sox. Shohei Ohtani is expected to start for the Angels despite a groin injury. It will be his first start at Fenway Park. The Angels are -155 favorites.

Another game that will get plenty of attention is the New York Mets, off to a great start despite a rough loss on Wednesday, travel to start a series with the Philadelphia Phillies. Aaron Nola is on the mound for the Phillies, but it might be worth taking the Mets as a +145 underdog.

Golf gets going in Charlotte

The Wells Fargo Championship starts Thursday. Yahoo Sportsbook's Pamela Maldonado has the preview here:

What's the best bet?

I trust the Rangers to bounce back and even the series. Going to Pittsburgh down 0-2 in the series would be an enormous hole to dig out of and the Rangers know it. Regardless of who plays goalie for the Penguins on Thursday night, the Rangers will rally after a close loss.

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