Last season, the Florida Panthers were outstanding. Until the postseason, anyway.
The Panthers had the best record in the NHL. They were a high-scoring machine that had a +94 goal differential and their 58-18-6 record should have been a sign of things to come in the playoffs.
Much like the Boston Bruins this season, it wasn't. The Panthers struggled in the first round against the Washington Capitals and then were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. This regular season they barely made the playoffs, getting a No. 8 seed. But they weren't going to repeat their playoff failure.
The Panthers are a win away from the Stanley Cup Final. They lead the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 in their Eastern Conference final. They're a small -115 home favorite at BetMGM as they go for the sweep in Game 4 on Wednesday night.
The key has been goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. He has been outstanding, especially in the conference finals. Bobrovsky has stopped 132 of 135 shots in the series and has been the biggest difference in three close wins. His shutout in a 1-0 win in Game 3 put the Panthers on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Bobrovsky's redemption from last postseason's failure matches the rest of the Panthers this postseason. Florida got embarrassed after a great regular season and while they likely didn't plan on all those losses this season, they were more ready for the playoffs this time around. That started with a historic comeback and upset of the Bruins in the first round and kept on going to a 3-0 lead against the Hurricanes.
The Panthers can also learn from the crosstown Miami Heat, who failed to put away their Eastern Conference final series in the NBA on Tuesday night and opened the door for the Boston Celtics. Florida's hockey team probably isn't letting this opportunity slip away.
Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
MLB has a full day
The NBA doesn't take the court Wednesday because the Denver Nuggets swept the Los Angeles Lakers, so there's no Game 5. But there's plenty of baseball.
There's a full 15-game schedule in MLB. That includes five afternoon games. The top game in the afternoon slate is the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers in the rubber match of a three-game series. Houston took the first game in a blowout and then the Brewers returned the favor with a 6-0 win on Tuesday. The odds for both teams are -110.
In the evening the best game is the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers' offense has been rolling in Atlanta, taking the first two games of the series. The Braves are -120 favorites in the third game.
What's the best bet?
Let's go with the Panthers. They have the hot goalie, are at home and have been impressive all postseason. They're also not a huge favorite, so you don't have to lay too much juice on a home favorite that has already taken the first three games of the series.