The month of September is ending – can you believe it?
Neither can I, but here we are enjoying a classic Stanley Cup Finals between two non-Original Six teams that are proving you don’t need to freeze your ass off all year long to play outstanding hockey.
We also have our second Major of the year in tennis, with the oddity of the French Open happening as the leaves change color in late September instead of its traditional late May slot, and the reigning Premier League champions looking to stay perfect in England.
But we start with hockey, and an upset pick in a really tight series.
STANLEY CUP FINALS - GAME 6 (LIGHTNING 3-2)
Upset Pick of the Day!
DALLAS STARS (Moneyline @ 2.45) vs TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Last week I called a Lightning win in Game 2, and I almost nailed the final score as well. Today, however, I’m putting on my cowboy hat and thanking my lucky Stars with a victory by Dallas that forces a Game 7 on Wednesday night.
Unfortunately, Tampa’s star center, and captain, Steven Stamkos is out for the rest of the series with an injury. Couple that blow with the mental and physical toll of going from being up 2-1 with 13 minutes to go in Game 5 to having played three overtimes in the past two contests, and I don’t see how they bounce back yet.
The do-or-die nature of a Game 7 in neutral ground could be a completely different story, but as far as Game 6 is concerned, I’m going with Dallas.
My pick: Stars 4 – 2 Lightning
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE – MATCHDAY 3
LIVERPOOL (1.50) vs. ARSENAL
I was tempted to make this my upset pick in this battle of 2-0-0 teams that have faced each other 230 times since 1893.
Liverpool is 89-61-80 all-time against its rival, but they have also lost twice in a row to the Gunners this year in both the Premier League and the FA Community Shield.
Keep in mind that the Community Shield loss came in the penalty kick shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation, and the 2-1 loss in Week 36 of last season saw the Reds go on the road having already clinched their first championship in three decades. The previous nine encounters since 2015 had gone 5-0-4 in Liverpool’s favor.
The Reds are the better overall squad and they play at home in Anfield, where they haven’t lost to Arsenal since 2012.
My pick: Liverpool 3-2 Arsenal
MEN’S DRAW – FIRST ROUND
DOMINIC THIEM (1.10) vs MARIN CILIC
US Open champion Dominic Thiem returns to action for the first time since he won his first career Grand Slam with that amazing comeback from two sets down against Zverev in New York.
Now he has his eyes set on Roland Garros and the number two spot in the ATP rankings, which currently belongs to none other than Rafael Nadal.
If Thiem wants to reach new heights, he won’t be taking the easy road there, that’s for sure.
His first round opponent is 2014 US Open champion and 2017 and 2018 French Open quarterfinalist Marin Cilic, who lost to Thiem 6-2, 6-2, 3-6 and 6-3 in the third round of this year’s US Open last month and is 0-3 all-time against the Austrian.
Some have voiced concern over Thiem skipping the clay surface tune-ups in Rome and Hamburg, essentially making today’s match his first on clay in 16 months.
Thiem is too good to be upset in his favorite surface, and the fresh legs will serve him well.
My pick: Thiem in 4 sets
-- by El Hombre