Brittany Burke

Getty Images

Bruins Small Betting Favorites at Blues for Wednesday NHL Matchup

Leave a comment

Some great offensive talents will be spectators for an interconference NHL matchup that was already imbued with some strong under trends.

The Boston Bruins and star left wing Brad Marchand are slim -115 favorites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by, while the St. Louis Blues come back as -105 underdogs for Wednesday’s matchup. There is a 5.5-goal total for the contest.

Boston is likely to be minus center Patrice Bergeron (foot), left wing David Backes (leg laceration) and defenseman Zdeno Chara (upper body), while left wing Rick Nash (upper body) might be a game-time decision. St. Louis is expected to be without leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body).

The depleted lineups could lead to a defensive affair. Coincidentally, the OddsShark NHL Database shows the total has gone under in six of the Bruins’ last nine road games against the Western Conference. The total has gone under in eight of the Blues’ last 10 home games against Eastern Conference teams.

Injury woes notwithstanding, Boston is 45-17-9 on the season, including a solid 20-10-4 road record. That said, the Bruins have lost all three of their road games against Central Division teams this season (two as the favorite) and improving that small sample might rest on having young right wings David Pastrnak and Ryan Donato (just signed from Harvard University) cover the absence of proven scoring if Nash is a no-go on Wednesday.

The Bruins are on the first leg of a five-game road swing as they try to chase down the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is aiming for a bounce-back game after allowing five goals in a game for the first time in more than two months during Boston’s defeat against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

While their organization appeared to cut bait on this season when it traded Paul Stastny within the division (to Winnipeg) at the trade deadline, the Blues are 39-28-5 and are hanging around the Western Conference wild-card playoff race. St. Louis has won two games in a row and the re-jigged Brayden Schenn-Jaden Schwartz-Alex Steen first line has helped cover for not having Tarasenko.

The Blues are 6-3 in their last nine home games against the Atlantic Division, but that includes three recent wins against teams that are far out of playoff contention.

St. Louis, which is a home underdog for only the second time all season, is providing better support to goalie Jake Allen. Allen has allowed only 15 goals across his last six starts with a decent save percentage, as Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues defense corps has thrived at limiting the volume of shots their goaltender faces. That’s another reason why this shapes up as a low-scoring game.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at


Naomi Osaka on her way up with first pro tennis title

AP Photo
Leave a comment

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Naomi Osaka had just won the first title of her career and was waiting to be introduced for her post-match comments.

The 20-year-old from Japan had prepared, knowing what she was going to say and in what order.

But then her name was called.

“I freaked out,” she said. “I just started saying whatever came into my mind first, which is why I think I kept stopping halfway through my sentences, because I just remembered something else I had to say. That was pretty embarrassing.”

The crowd of 18,347 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday seemed to sense Osaka’s nervousness, something she worked hard to hide during a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Daria Kasatkina of Russia in the BNP Paribas Open final.

“I was extremely stressed and extremely nervous,” Osaka said. “But my plan was to, like, fake that I’m very calm.”

As hesitant as she was behind the mic, Osaka was polished and professional in dismantling Kasatkina, a fellow 20-year-old who also enjoyed a surprising run to the final.

Osaka dropped just one set in seven matches, knocking off two-time winner Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Karolina Pliskova and top-ranked Simona Halep against whom she won the last nine games of the match.

She arrived at Indian Wells unseeded because of her No. 44 ranking. She left ranked No. 22 and with a $1.3 million check, nearly double her career earnings.

“I really wanted to win this, but also I just tried to think it was a first-round match and just not psych myself out too much,” Osaka said.

She had made it past the quarterfinals at a WTA event just once before, losing in the final at Tokyo 18 months ago. Now, she’s 15-4 this year.

“I feel like I have made it my goal to be more focused every match this year, so I think it’s paid off,” she said.

Born in Osaka, Japan, to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, she moved to the U.S. as a 3-year-old. She holds dual citizenship, living for a time in New York and now in South Florida while representing Japan in Fed Cup.

“I play now for myself,” she said, “but when I was little, I just played because I wanted to make my mom happy, mainly my mom, and also my dad, for him to be proud.”

Her parents and sister Mari, a tennis player, too, weren’t on hand in California.

Osaka and Kasatkina shared a private jet – their first such ride – to South Florida, where they will play in the Miami Open this week. Osaka faces a first-round match against Serena Williams, her idol growing up.

“I feel like I just started winning,” Osaka said. “It’s a new feeling for me to be this consistent, so I’m just trying to be happy about that.”


Federer edges Coric in 3 sets in Indian Wells semifinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Roger Federer rallied to beat Borna Coric 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday, extending his career-best start to 17-0 and putting him in the final with a chance to win his record sixth title.

Federer overcame a slow start in front of a partisan crowd that included Rod Laver and Pete Sampras. He rallied from a 5-7, 2-4 deficit to win the final four games of the second set, breaking Coric twice for the first time in the match.

There were five breaks in the third. Federer trailed 4-3 and then broke after two deuces on his way to winning the last three games of the two-hour, 20-minute struggle.

Coric’s crosscourt forehand was called out on match point. He challenged the call and the line system showed it was just wide of the sideline.

Federer hasn’t started a season so well since 2006, when he won his first 16 matches en route to a 92-5 record.

The Swiss superstar was playing a rare 11 a.m. match. According to the ATP Tour, Federer hadn’t played that early since 2006. And it showed as he sprayed errors all over the court and didn’t break Coric for the first time until late in the second set.

“Really I just woke up,” Federer said in an on-court interview. “It was early today. I had pasta at 9:15. It was yummy.”

Trailing a set and 0-2 in the second, the crowd seemingly tried to will better shots out of Federer with loud applause and shouts of encouragement.

“I needed to fight a little bit to keep the ball in play,” he said. “Borna was incredibly steady and was playing deep and hard shots.”

Coric, a 21-year-old from Croatia, was in his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinal. Federer, atop the world rankings again at 36, owns 27 career Masters 1000 titles.

Coric is part of a trio of 20-somethings that have dominated the desert tournament. Daria Kasatkina of Russia and Naomi Osaka of Japan, both 20, will meet in the women’s final on Sunday after knocking out several higher-ranked players along the way.