Getty Images

Capitals Favored Over Penguins as NHL Playoffs Reach Second Round

Leave a comment

Two of the NHL’s biggest stars will face each other in the postseason for the first time since 2009 when Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals play host to Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday in Game 1 of their second-round set as -130 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The red-hot Penguins have emerged as Stanley Cup contenders following their first-round victory over New York, outscoring the Rangers by a 21-10 margin in their 4-1 series win.

Pittsburgh has now won 18 of their past 21 games heading into Thursday night’s Penguins vs. Capitals betting matchup at Verizon Center, and have clawed their way to the top of the Stanley Cup odds, joining Washington as +375 favorites to raise the hardware in mid-June.

Crosby played a key role in Pittsburgh’s first-round success, tallying eight points in five games. Crosby and Ovechkin last went head-to-head in the second round of the 2009 playoffs; the Penguins took the series in seven en route to a Stanley Cup championship.

This year, however, the Capitals hold the edge in NHL series prices with -130 odds. Washington has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs during Ovechkin’s decade in the nation’s capital. Pittsburgh sports +110 odds on the series prices to return to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2013.

In other Stanley Cup playoff action, it’s a dead heat on the series prices between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues, who each sport -110 odds ahead of Game 1 of their second-round series at American Airlines Center on Friday night.

The Blues needed seven games to eliminate the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks in their first-round series, and are 6-1 in their past seven dates with Dallas, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

However, the Stars’ 5-4 loss to Minnesota in Game 5 of their first-round series marked their only defeat in their past nine home dates, and Dallas trailed only Washington during the regular season with 28 victories on home ice.

Elsewhere, the New York Islanders continue to surprise, taking a 1-0 lead in their second-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 5-3 victory on Wednesday night.

The Islanders entered Game 1 as +123 underdogs on the NHL series prices at the sportsbooks, but should be sporting much more favorable odds when they hit the ice at Amalie Arena for Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Favored Rangers seek end to home-ice hex against the rival Islanders

Getty Images
Leave a comment

While the teams’ records can be thrown out when the NHL’s two city rivals meet, the New York Rangers do take a strong record in back-to-back games into their clash against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

The Rangers, who are relying on goalie Antti Raanta to hold the fort with superstar Henrik Lundqvist (lower body injury) sidelined, are only 2-7 straight-up in their last nine home games against the Islanders, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

However, the Rangers should have some motivation after an overtime defeat on Tuesday against the also-ran New Jersey Devils. In fact, the Rangers, home favorites for Wednesday’s game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, are 7-3 in their last 10 games when they were playing the second of back-to-back contests.

The Islanders, who are 33-26-12 on the season, should be ready to play desperate hockey since they have had a three-day break and are only 1-4 in their last five games. Coach Doug Weight has shuffled his lines to stimulate some offense, reuniting captain John Tavares (nine points over his last 10 games) with his regular left wing, Andrew Ladd.

The Islanders, who should have fresh legs, could also get a spark in the offensive zone from recent rookie call-up Josh Ho-Sang.

The break might also be a boon for Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, who has an unsightly 3.46 goals-against average and .893 save percentage so far this month. Some of that can be put down to the recent play by the Islanders, who are also 3-7 in their last 10 divisional road games.

The Rangers are 45-24-4 on the season, but just 5-7 across their last 12 games, which has dropped them into fourth in the Metropolitan Division. Veteran winger Rick Nash ended a nine-game goal drought against the Devils, but has been shut out so far this season against the Islanders. The Rangers also finished the New Jersey game strongly, leveling 16 shots on goal in the third period.

Raanta is having a strong month with a 2.13 GAA and .924 save percentage. The Rangers are 1-4 in their last five divisional home games.

The total has gone under in three consecutive Islanders’ games for bettors on the NHL odds. The total has gone over in six of the last nine games where the Rangers were favored at home against the Islanders.

Ovechkin, Capitals Road Favorites Against Flyers on Wednesday Night

Leave a comment

The law of averages and both teams’ recent play would suggest Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are due for a better fate in Philadelphia.

The Capitals are a -165 betting favorite against the +135 underdog Philadelphia Flyers with a 5.5-goal total in their NHL betting matchup on Wednesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Washington won 5-0 on January 15 when the Metropolitan Division rivals last met, but that was at the Verizon Center and the Flyers are 8-2 straight-up in their last 10 home games against the Capitals with any moneyline, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Presumptive starting goaltender Michal Neuvirth has often fared well against Washington, particularly during the 2016 playoffs.

The Flyers are also 7-3 in their last 10 games at home as an underdog of +135 to +500 on the moneyline. Their price on the moneyline offers much more value than the Capitals’ does.

Washington, which is 39-12-7 this season, will be aiming to avoid its first three-loss skid of the season. Ovechkin has traditionally had the Flyers’ number over his career, as the future Hall of Famer has 31 goals and 18 assists for 49 points in 43 career games against Philly.

Washington is one of the NHL’s deepest teams offensively and, in Braden Holtby, are well spoken for in goal.

The Capitals are 7-3 in their last 10 games on the road as a favorite of -135 to -500 moneyline.

Philadelphia, which is 28-24-7, is at a point of the season where it needs to play desperate to stay in the hunt for a wild card playoff spot. The Flyers, who are only 3-7 in their last 10 home games against their division, have several key players itching to bust out offensively. Captain and No. 1 center Claude Giroux has only two points in his last 10 games and offensive defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has only six over his last 15, three of which came last Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.

If Neuvirth is sharp, the Flyers have a chance.

The total has gone over in six of the Capitals’ last 10 divisional road games, but has gone under in four of their past six away contests (with one push). The total has gone under in six of the Flyers’ last 10 home games overall.