Penguins favored against the Capitals for remainder of series

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will be attempting to push the Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination in their second-round playoff series when they host the Presidents’ Cup winners in Game 4 on Wednesday as small -120 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Pittsburgh handed Washington their eighth loss in the past 14 games in Game 3, getting past the Capitals by a 3-2 score on the strength of a 47-save performance by rookie goaltender Matt Murray, who has been tagged with just one loss in his past 13 starts heading into Wednesday night’s Capitals vs. Penguins betting matchup at Consol Energy Center.

The loss adds to existing frustration for the Capitals, who dropped to 3-6 in their past nine games when outshooting opponents, including their past two in which they have tallied 40 or more shots on goal.

The Capitals’ recent swoon also adds to the growing pressure they face to fulfill their promise in the postseason after coming up short in each of their past four second-round appearances, and failing to reach the Eastern Conference Final since making their sole Stanley Cup Final appearance back in 1999.

For the Penguins, their win in Game 3 extends a hot streak that has seen them claim victory in 20 of their past 24 contests, lifting them past Washington to -130 favorites on the NHL series prices, and to +260 chalk on the odds to win the Stanley Cup.

While the Capitals finished a full 16 points ahead of Pittsburgh during the regular season, the Penguins have held the edge in head-to-head meetings, going 6-3 over their past nine matchups despite outscoring their Metropolitan Division rivals by a slim 28-24 margin.

Five of the last six meetings between these two clubs have been settled by a single goal, however the total has played UNDER just twice over their past nine clashes, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Suspensions and injuries have also taken their toll on both clubs, with Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta sidelined indefinitely as a result of an illegal hit by Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik, who continues to miss time after being suspended for three games.

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang will also miss Game 4 after being handed a one-game suspension for a hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3.

Elsewhere, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed overtime but grabbed a 2-1 lead in their second-round series with the New York Islanders with a 5-4 overtime win on Tuesday night. That ended a three-game road losing streak against the Islanders for Tampa Bay, and will strengthen their odds on the NHL series prices which had sat at -130.

The Lightning and the Islanders will next meet in Game 4 of their series in Brooklyn on Friday.

Penguins heavy home betting favorites against Blues as NHL season begins

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who typically take care of business as a big moneyline favorite on home ice, face an already banged-up team in their season opener.

The Penguins are a -200 moneyline favorite against the St. Louis Blues (+165) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in one of the featured betting matchups on the NHL’s opening night on Wednesday.

The Penguins, who are also the favorite on the odds to win the Stanley Cup, are 7-3 in their last 10 regular-season home games as a moneyline favorite of at least -175. They are also 14-6 in their last 20 home games in October.

St. Louis went 12-5 in its final 17 road games last season but is missing several regulars due to injuries, including D Jay Bouwmeester (ankle), C Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and LW Alexander Steen (hand). That could make it easier for the Penguins, whose only reported injury is to LW Patric Hornqvist (hand), to focus on stopping Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko, the offensive leader for St. Louis.

The total has gone under in five of the Blues’ last six road games.

Elsewhere on Wednesday night, the San Jose Sharks (-160) are favored against the Philadelphia Flyers (+130). The Sharks finished last season as a shaky play at 3-6 on the puckline in their final nine home games, but C Joe Thornton and C Logan Couture were hampered by injuries at that time.

The Flyers, who are 2-7 in their last nine road games against the Pacific Division, are hoping to have D Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body) on the ice on Wednesday night.

The total has gone under in the Sharks’ last five home games in October.

The Winnipeg Jets (-120) are a slight home favorite against the Toronto Maple Leafs (-110). The Leafs, with a cadre of young stars led by C Auston Matthews, are overdue for a turn in fortune against Winnipeg. They are 2-8 in their last 10 games against Winnipeg, including an 0-5 streak in their last five road games.

The total has gone over in Toronto’s last five road games against Winnipeg. Last season the Jets, led by RW Patrik Laine, were seventh in the NHL in goals scored but allowed the fourth-most, so that trend might continue.

And the Edmonton Oilers (-160), led by Connor McDavid, are favored against the Calgary Flames (+130). While the Flames are more about offense by committee than star power with LW Johnny Gaudreau, C Sean Monahan and C Mikael Backlund leading the way, they are 8-3 in their last 11 road games against the Oilers.

Calgary’s Achilles heel was goaltending last season, but it has added veteran G Mike Smith. The total has gone under in nine of Edmonton’s last 13 home games against Calgary, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

 

Edmonton Oilers close gap on Pittsburgh Penguins on Stanley Cup odds

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The Stanley Cup futures board might appear to be based on the “don’t bet against Sidney Crosby” principle, but it also reflects the disparity between the NHL’s two conferences.

With the regular season beginning next week, Sid the Kid and the two-time reigning champion Penguins remain the +750 betting favorite to lift the silver chalice in 2017/18, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

But since the board opened in June, the price on the Edmonton Oilers and Connor McDavid have come down to +800. Of course, the Oilers would have to get through the tough Pacific Division in the playoffs, and likely a tough Central Division club in the conference final.

The Penguins have freed up salary-cap space by seeing off G Marc-Andre Fleury. Being in the Eastern Conference, which isn’t as deep as the West, also means a better chance of getting through three series to make the Stanley Cup final. The Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks (+1200) might not have the depth to skate through such a gauntlet.

No fewer than six teams – the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, 2017 runner-up Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals – are being offered at +1400. Losing two-way C Ryan Kesler to hip surgery makes it best to take a wait-and-see approach with Anaheim.

From among that group, Nashville, due to its defense and goaltending, and Tampa Bay, due to having stars such as D Victor Hedman and C Nikita Kucherov as well as a clean bill of health for C Steven Stamkos, are justifiable plays.

McDavid (+150) is the favorite to win the Hart Trophy as most valuable player, followed by Crosby and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 20-year-old phenom Auston Matthews (+850). Being in the league’s largest media market could goose Matthews’ chances, although the Leafs aren’t quite a contender yet.

The playoffs and regular season are practically two different sports in the NHL, so laying chalk in division props is not a must. Pittsburgh (+225) is favored on the odds to win the Metropolitan Division, but the lower-profile Columbus Blue Jackets (+450) with their all-American defense pairing of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, could make it interesting. Washington (+300) is probably due to take a step back.

Tampa Bay (+275) is favored to win the Atlantic Division. The Montreal Canadiens (+350) might be too reliant on goalie Carey Price, while Toronto (+375) had almost everything go right last season on the goaltending and injury fronts while squeaking into the playoffs.

There could also be some big-star bias inherent in Dallas (+275) and Chicago (+300) topping the Central Division board. Nashville (+350) is deeper defensively and in goal than both of those teams.

Edmonton (+225) has the low price in the Pacific Division, and as a younger team are more likely than the Anaheim Ducks (+275) to go all out for first place. Their rivals, the Calgary Flames (+600), might actually be Edmonton’s biggest barrier to regular-season supremacy, with both the Los Angeles Kings (+500) and San Jose Sharks (+450) being aging teams.