Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.
NHL: Tampa Bay vs Montreal Pick
LAS VEGAS — Like Yankee Stadium, the old Montreal Forum, the TEMPLE of hockey, was and is considered hallowed ground in Canada. My first major assignment was covering the 1979 Stanley Cup when the Canadiens hosted the New York Rangers. Just walking into Le Forum de Montreal was breathtaking.
In New York, we had the Babe, Mickey, Joe D, Lou Gehrig and Yogi. When you looked down on the Forum ice, you saw the ghosts of Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur, Lemaire and Boom Boom Geoffrion. Quite a jolt for a kid from NYC. Even got to share a table at the buffet with the GREAT voice of the Canadiens, Roger Doucet.
When he belted out O Canada before the game, I was ready to change my citizenship. Totally Top 10 in my career sports highlights.
Wanna know my No. 1 highlight? Email me, email@example.com, and I’ll hit you back.
OK, now that story time is over, you’re expecting a winner. Obviously, the Lightning are the superior team, by a bunch. But back home, with the coach, Dominique Ducharme, finally back behind the bench and 3,500 crazies in the building, gotta take a look at Les Canadiens.
They dominated Game 2 with 43 shots on goal (Tampa had 23) and if it wasn’t for Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy basically standing on his head, this series would be tied at a game apiece.
So, now, Montreal has to bring that same heat, because as you all know, an 0-3 hole in hockey is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to climb out of. There have been 192 times that a team was up 3-0 in a series, and those teams have won 188 times. Yeah, 188-4!
So, this is Game 7 for the Canadiens, and even though it is not at the old Forum, we’re still expecting some ghosts to skate alongside the current group, and post a W.
MLB: Atlanta vs Miami Pick
Back on the bases, gonna rock the Braves with Drew Smyly over the Marlins and Pablo Lopez. Smyly has been throwing very well the last month, allowing just three earned runs over 16 innings and knocking down three wins.
Miami’s Lopez is sitting at 4-4, with a sweet 2.87 ERA. However, for some reason, he just does NOT match up well with Atlanta. In two starts against the Braves, Pablo has been CRUSHED for 15 hits and 10 earned runs in ONLY seven innings of work.
Got out the calculator and found out that translates to a 12.86 ERA. Yeah, I said, TWELVE POINT EIGHT SIX! Unless he has found a new pitch, gotta throw all my chips at the ATL, and you can BOOK IT!!!
NBA: Atlanta vs Milwaukee
On the NBA hardwood tomorrow, IMPOSSIBLE to make a strong call on the Bucks-Hawks game since we’re not really sure about the status of Giannis and Trae Young. So, gotta take a pass.
Euro 2020: Czech Republic vs Denmark Pick
Not gonna open the wallet for England vs Ukraine because my HEART is with the Three Lions in Rome. And I never bet with my heart.
Will take a small taste of Denmark in the early game against the Czech Republic in Baku, Azerbaijan. After the horrific Christian Eriksen collapse on the field in the opening game against Finland, the Danes have bounced back strong.
They blasted Russia 4-1, then fed a 4-0 bagel to Wales in the last match. Expecting the Red & Whites to continue to find the net and advance to the semifinal at Wembley.
And if you’re looking for winners over the weekend, PLZ hit me on Instagram. I will be doing quick 15-second picks at www.instagram.com/vegasvigoris
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America's Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...firstname.lastname@example.org.
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