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#385716 - 04/09/18 12:52 AM 4/16 Previews & Predictions
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Welcome to Preview & Predictions at Freaks Forum

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#386706 - 04/16/18 01:25 AM Re: 4/16 Previews & Predictions [Re: FREAK]
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Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

the toronto maple leafs are making back-to-back appearances in the postseason for the first time in 14 years but they appear headed for a second straight first-round exit barring a stunning turnaround. toronto has been manhandled in its eastern conference first-round series against the boston bruins and hopes a return home to air canada centre will get it back on track in monday night's game 3.

the maple leafs set franchise records for wins (49) and points (105) in a season but they have been completely overmatched by original six rival boston, which breezed to a 5-1 win in the series opener before scoring four times in the opening period in a 7-3 demolition in game 2. "obviously, they're dominating us," toronto coach mike babcock said. "it obviously hasn't gone the way we want it, we've given up 12 goals in two games, so we've got to go get some home cooking tomorrow, and come back and pull like we can, because we're a way better team than what we showed." boston's no. 1 line was expected to be a difficult test for the maple leafs and the least heralded member of the unit has turned it into a complete mismatch. david pastrnak eclipsed a record held by wayne gretzky by becoming the youngest player to register a six-point game in the postseason after a three-goal, three-assist masterpiece in game 2.

tv: 7 p.m. et, nbc sports network, nesn (boston), cbc, tvas (toronto)

about the bruins: center patrice bergeron and brad marchand form the other two-thirds of boston's top line and each collected four assists in saturday's romp, but pastrnak has been the driving force in helping the unit amass a staggering 20 points in the first two games. "a lot of people in boston already know how good he is," bergeron said of pastrnak, who scored 35 goals in the regular season. "i think people on the outside are getting to know." defenseman torey krug collected all three of his assists in the first-period outburst saturday to give him five for the series.

about the maple leafs: toronto has concerns from one end of the ice to the other, but the biggest are the lack of productivity of its own no. 1 line and the suddenly shaky play of netminder frederik andersen, who was yanked in game 2 after surrendering three goals on five shots. "you've got to give your goalie a chance to be good and we haven't done that," babcock said sunday. "freddy's our guy and he'll be back tomorrow." with nazem kadri serving a three-game suspension, the pressure is even greater on auston matthews and the top line, which has yet to score a point.

prediction: bruins 4, maple leafs 3
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#386707 - 04/16/18 01:26 AM Re: 4/16 Previews & Predictions [Re: FREAK]
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Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils

the tampa bay lightning look to continue their offensive production and take a stranglehold of the eastern conference first-round series when they visit the new jersey devils for game 3 on monday night. the lightning scored 10 times while winning the first two games of the series, going 3-for-4 on the power-play and getting multiple goals from three players.

"we've got to play a desperate game," tampa bay defenseman victor hedman said of the next challenge after saturday's 5-3 victory. "we know they are going to come out flying in front of their fans. we've just got to stay calm and stay within our structure and play our game. that's the bottom line." the devils made a big push in the second period of game 1 and finished with a 44-25 advantage in shots after posting 19 in the final 20 minutes of game 2, but gave up three goals in a span of 2:47 in the middle session of that contest. "that's the playoffs, right?" new jersey captain andy greene told reporters. "that's what good teams do. they take opportunities and take advantage of them. that's what we got to realize, that every little play, every big thing, every detail matters." hart trophy candidate taylor hall had a goal and an assist in the first game of the series for the devils, but was shut out saturday despite six shots on net while logging 20:43 of ice time.

tv: 7:30 p.m. et, cnbc, sportsnet, tva2, fs florida (tampa bay), msg plus (new jersey)

about the lightning: alex killorn has often saved his best hockey for the postseason and he is off to another strong start with three goals in the first two games of the series after scoring twice saturday. "you play all season for this," killorn, who has 18 goals and 36 points in 49 career playoff games, told reporters. "playoff hockey is great. there are a few more cameras around, a couple more people watching, but i think we like that pressure." forwards nikita kucherov and tyler johnson have also scored twice in the first two games while defenseman ryan mcdonagh and left wing ondrej palat each boast three assists.

about the devils: cory schneider, who has not won a game since dec. 27 while struggling with injuries and an .863 save percentage since, stopped all 10 shots he faced in relief of keith kinkaid on saturday and could get the start monday. "it was good to give him an opportunity to get in there," coach john hynes told reporters, "and i thought he came in and made huge saves, looked solid, so that's a positive for us moving forward." hynes went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen saturday while inserting blue liner damon severson (three shots, 16:41 of ice time) into the lineup and hinted there could be more changes for game 3.

prediction: lightning 4, devils 3
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#386708 - 04/16/18 01:26 AM Re: 4/16 Previews & Predictions [Re: FREAK]
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Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche

the colorado avalanche are banking that the rocky mountain air will breathe new life into their western conference first-round series with the nashville predators. the avalanche, who matched franchise records for consecutive home wins (10) and total victories on the season (28), have dropped 12 straight to the predators -- including the first two heading into monday's game 3.

"we have been good there all season, we used our energy to our advantage," hart trophy candidate nathan mackinnon said. "we have won some big games at home. everyone feels good coming to the pepsi center, and hopefully we can get some offense there." the 22-year-old mackinnon recorded his fourth multi-point performance of his postseason career with a goal and an assist in a 5-4 win in saturday's game 2, giving him six points (three goals, three assists) in six contests versus nashville since the start of the 2017-18 season. the presidents' trophy-winning predators may lead the series but they have plenty of areas in which to improve, including sluggish starts that have seen the team outscored 2-0 in the first period. "we're going to be desperate too," nashville captain roman josi said. "it's a huge game for both teams. game 3 is always a big game. i think (coach peter laviolette) is right; desperation trumps momentum, and we have to make sure we match their desperation."

tv: 10 p.m. et, nbcsn, sportsnet, tvas, fs tennessee (nashville), altitude (colorado)

about the predators: nashville has spread its offense around in the first two games of the series, with eight players responsible for the team's 10 goals. filip forsberg and austin watson have each scored twice, with the former netting five goals in his last three contests while latter has tallied in three straight. ryan johansen scored in game 2 to extend his point streak to four contests while defenseman p.k. subban set up two goals on saturday to boost his point total to seven (one goal, six assists) in his last eight outings.

about the avalanche: while mackinnon has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last seven games, captain gabriel landeskog has seven (two goals, five assists) in that stretch after scoring and setting up a goal in game 2. while the statistics are piling up, the wins are not -- but landeskog told reporters that a victory in game 3 would eliminate any lingering doubts on his club and generate some for the opponent. "i think it's win game 3 and all of a sudden you are feeling good and they start second-guessing themselves," the 25-year-old swede said. "we just got to make sure we take care of these two at home, that's the bottom line. especially game 3, we can't look too much further ahead than that, but make sure we win game 3 and then after that get rolling."

prediction: avalanche 3, predators 2
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#386709 - 04/16/18 01:27 AM Re: 4/16 Previews & Predictions [Re: FREAK]
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Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks

the anaheim ducks are in a familiar -- albeit uncomfortable -- position, having lost the opening two games at home for the third time in their last five postseason appearances. the ducks will have to find a way to claw back into their western conference first-round series on the road against a pacific division rival when they head north to face the san jose sharks on monday night.

anaheim closed the season with five consecutive wins to overtake the sharks by one point for second place in the division, but san jose quickly stole home-ice advantage with a 3-0 win in the series opener before putting the ducks on the ropes with a 3-2 victory in saturday's game 2. "we've been down (0-2) before. they have to win four. the series isn't over," anaheim defenseman brandon montour said. "it's tough to lose two at home, but we'll come back and play hard in the next game." the sharks are 5-0-1 against the ducks this season and have limited them to two regulation goals or fewer in eight consecutive meetings, but they are not taking anything for granted. "we've all been around this league a long time and know that team over there has been in this position before and they have been able to claw their way back into a series," san jose forward logan couture said. "we know how important the next game is."

tv: 10:30 p.m. et, cnbc, sportsnet1, tvas2, prime ticket (anaheim), nbcs california (san jose)

about the ducks: anaheim, which entered the postseason with the fewest goals of any of the 16 teams, now must attempt to duplicate last season's series against edmonton, when it dropped the first two at home before rally to prevail in seven games. "sure, we can draw on that," said ducks defenseman hampus lindholm, who scored one goal and set up another saturday. "people have not been believing in us all year but we know what we're capable of." rickard rakell, the team's leading goal (34) and overall scorer, has been limited to two shots on goal through the first two games.

about the sharks: goaltender martin jones won only once in his final five starts of the regulation season but he has turned away 53 of 55 shots in the series and has surrendered only seven goals in five matchups against the ducks this season. captain joe pavelski, who has collected three assists in the first two games, said a key factor for san jose was to not get rattled by the relentless physical play of anaheim. "nothing we haven't taken before," pavelski said. "maybe they are coming a little bit harder. be poised. make some plays. stick to what we are trying to do."


prediction: sharks 3, ducks 2
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#386710 - 04/16/18 01:28 AM Re: 4/16 Previews & Predictions [Re: FREAK]
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Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers' phenomenal 17-game winning streak now includes one playoff victory, the franchise's first in six years. The Sixers will try to make it two straight over the Miami Heat in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series when the teams meet in Game 2 on Monday in Philadelphia.

After a slow start in Saturday's opener, Philadelphia outscored the Heat by a whopping 74-43 margin in the second half en route to a convincing 130-103 Game 1 victory. "I feel this group has something special in it," coach Brett Brown told reporters after his team made 18-of-28 3-pointers and recorded 34 assists against just 10 turnovers in a dominant effort. The last nine of the Sixers' 17 straight wins have come without All-Star center Joel Embiid (orbital fracture), who could return as soon as Game 2 or 3. The Heat will need to get more out of their own big man, as Hassan Whiteside provided just two points on 1-of-4 shooting in 12 lackluster minutes.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, FS Sun (Miami), NBCS Philadelphia

ABOUT THE HEAT: Whiteside has expressed displeasure at times with head coach Erik Spoelstra and the center seemed to display frustration over his limited minutes in Game 1. "It's not about him," Spoelstra told the media. "This series and this game, it's going to move quickly. It's not necessarily an indictment to his (play)." The play of another 7-footer, Kelly Olynyk, was perhaps another reason for Whiteside's limited contributions, as Olynyk scored a team-high 26 points on 9-of-13 shooting - including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc - off the bench.

ABOUT THE 76ERS: With Embiid sidelined, Philadelphia has been thriving on its many quality outside shooters, and the quartet of JJ Redick, Dario Saric, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova combined to hit 15-of-23 long-range attempts in Game 1. "Whether Ersan comes in or Marco comes in, that's who we are," Brown told reporters. "That's what we're trying to coach here. And the guys have bought in. We play fast, we look for each other. The 3-point shot, without Joel, has become a real big part of our identity. We'll continue to do that. You have to do that or you won't win games when it matters." Rookie Ben Simmons was the one finding most of those shooters and he finished his playoff debut with 17 points and 14 assists.

PREDICTION: 76ers 117, Heat 106
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#386711 - 04/16/18 01:29 AM Re: 4/16 Previews & Predictions [Re: FREAK]
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San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors

the golden state warriors came into the postseason injured and slumping but quickly proved they can flip the switch to playoff mode with a dominating game 1 win over the san antonio spurs on saturday. the warriors will try to keep the pressure on and get off to another hot start to make it a 2-0 cushion when they host the spurs in game 2 on monday.

golden state dropped 10 of its last 17 games in the regular season and struggled on defense but tightened things up that end and held the spurs to 17 first-quarter points to establish a lead it wouldn't relinquish in game 1. "just wanted to put our best defensive lineup on the floor from the beginning," warriors coach steve kerr, who inserted small forward andre iguodala into the starting lineup, told reporters. "i think the whole point of these games here early in this series is to re-establish our defense. i think you guys know, over the last month or so, our defense has been subpar. can't win in this league in the playoffs unless you defend, and they defended tonight, and we went with our best defensive group." san antonio's starting unit wasn't up to the task and only lamarcus aldridge (14 points) scored in double figures among the starting five. "i thought we were very prepared physically and mentally," spurs coach gregg popovich told reporters. "but i was mistaken. as i said, we looked like deer in the headlights. the defense was really poor as far as following game plan of the first quarter, and it's a bad combination to play defense like that and not shoot at the other end."

tv: 10:30 p.m. et, tnt, fs southwest (san antonio), nbcs bay area (golden state)

about the spurs: san antonio shot 40 percent from the floor in game 1 and managed only three offensive rebounds in the 113-92 setback. "we've got to regroup, feel hurt, upset, kind of desperate," guard manu ginobili told reporters. "we don't want to go home (down) 0-2. but at the same time, we've got to be smarter. offensively, we're going to have to move the ball better, sharper, be more aggressive and see what happens. we are underdogs. we've talked about it. to get a win here, we've got to overachieve." popovich started rudy gay in the second half over kyle anderson to generate more offense and could insert gay into the starting lineup for game 2.

about the warriors: starting iguodala over quinn cook left golden state without a true point guard, leading to all-star forward kevin durant running the offense. "it's not just one guy who has the ball all the time and making all the plays," durant, who finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, told reporters. "i think that's the beauty of our team, that all of us can go off and score 30 or get eight, nine assists or grab 11 rebounds. that's just the beauty of our team, and all of us chip in when it comes to facilitating and orchestrating." the warriors recorded 32 assists on 44 made field goals in the win, led by forward draymond green's 11.

prediction: warriors 110, spurs 103
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