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Stars Favored Over Blues in Deciding Game 7 on Wednesday Night

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A berth in the Western Conference Final will be on the line on Wednesday when the Dallas Stars play host to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of their second-round series as -120 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Stars forced a decisive seventh game with a 3-2 victory in St. Louis on Monday, fending off the Blues’ comeback efforts after jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, hanging on to claim their second straight victory as road underdogs.

Dallas now enters Wednesday night’s Blues vs. Stars betting matchup at American Airlines Center gunning for their first victory in a Game 7 since 2000, when they last advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Stars have been getting it done against St. Louis despite their struggles to find the back of the net. The club has tallied just 13 total goals through the first six games of the series, marking a steep decrease in offensive production after averaging just under 3.5 goals per game over their previous 17 outings.

Despite the dip in production, those loyal to the UNDER in totals betting have been frustrated by pushes in the past three games of this series, with the UNDER paying out just once, in the Stars’ 2-1 victory in Game 1.

The Blues, meanwhile, will look to maintain their strong record on the road of late, with nine wins in their past 11 away from Scottrade Center, including victories in Games 2 and 5 of this series, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

A lot is on the line for St. Louis, which has not clinched a berth in the conference finals since 2001, and is looking to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970.

The Blues are also a disappointing 3-7 in their past 10 Game 7 matchups, but remain deadlocked with the Stars at +450 odds to win the Stanley Cup for the first time.

The winner of Wednesday night’s contest will await the winner of Thursday night’s Game 7 matchup between the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks. The Predators forced Game 7 with a second straight overtime victory on home ice on Monday, but travel to San Jose as  +145 underdogs at the sportsbooks to post a fourth straight victory while facing elimination.

Blackhawks, Penguins leading the way on updated Stanley Cup odds

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When poring over the latest 2017 Stanley Cup futures, it’s important to remember that only four franchises – all in major U.S. markets – have raised the NHL championship trophy over the last eight seasons.

As a parity-driven league, the NHL would probably prefer that to change, but it’s not surprising that the Chicago Blackhawks at +700 and the Pittsburgh Penguins at +800 have the top odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Six months out from the Stanley Cup final in June, they might be the safest, if lowest-reward picks available.

The Blackhawks, led by reigning Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane and center Jonathan Toews, are leading the Central Division. One red flag with Chicago is that their penalty killing is nearly the worst in the league, which could be an Achilles heel in the playoffs. Sidney Crosby, of course, is scoring at a practically career-high rate for the Penguins, who are also pushing for top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Beyond that big two, though, several other teams possess value. Now that star goalie Henrik Lundqvist can take more nights off thanks to the emergence of understudy Antti Raanta, the New York Rangers (+1000) might be better equipped for the long haul of a two-month playoff run. The Rangers have made the third round three times during the Lundqvist era.

The Montreal Canadiens, with franchise goalie Carey Price, are now listed at +1100 on those NHL betting lines by virtue of a strong start. No franchise from Canada has won the Cup since Montreal did in 1993, but that trend is overdue to end. The defending Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks are also finding their form with defenseman Brent Burns leading the team in scoring,

The presence of 19-year-old wunderkind Connor McDavid has pulled the Edmonton Oilers (+1200) up the board, but it might be too soon to tell whether Edmonton’s endless rebuild has finally come to fruition.

Some of the longer shots worth monitoring include the Minnesota Wild (+1800), Columbus Blue Jackets (+2500, after opening at +10000 in preseason) and Boston Bruins (+2800). The Wild boast the best goal differential in the Western Conference and have been fortified by the goaltending of Devan Dubnyk and the leadership of center Eric Staal.

While playoff success is alien to Columbus, a breakout from center Sam Gagner and a balanced attack have them high up on most experts’ playoff rankings. Boston has also managed to stay competitive in the tough Atlantic Division despite having one of the NHL’s lowest shooting percentages. When those bounces start to go the Bruins’ way, they could be very dangerous.

Quartet of teams tied atop updated odds to win Stanley Cup

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Four weeks into the season, there has been major movement on the 2017 Stanley Cup odds.

Four teams – the Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadiens, reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals – share the top odds at +900 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

And the teams trending the most in each direction are the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings. Edmonton, which is on the upswing thanks to generational talent Connor McDavid, has seen its odds come down from +7500 to +1000. The Kings, who did not record a win in regulation time until their 12th game, have seen their odds rise from +850 at the outset of the season to +2500 on those NHL betting lines.

The Oilers have not made the playoffs since 2006, but one only need look at the recent success of the Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane) and Penguins (Sidney Crosby) to know a team which spends years amassing high draft picks can hit its stride very quickly. The Oilers have one of the NHL’s most productive offenses, which is going to keep them in a lot of games. Their odds still carry a lot of value.

Results in hockey are much more random than in other team sports. It is not surprising that most of the teams at the top of the board have a PDO – a team’s shooting percentage combined with the save percentage of its goalies – well above 100. Teams tend to regress or rise toward the mean over time. According to the PDO tables at SportingCharts.com, the New York Rangers (+1000), Blackhawks and Canadiens are all having a high degree of puck luck early in the season.

In Montreal’s case, one couldn’t be faulted for betting on a team which now has franchise goalie Carey Price fully healthy. Washington, led by captain Alex Ovechkin and bolstered by goalie Braden Holtby, is off to a strong start that is sustainable. Each seems to have the most solid case among the leaders.

The teams which currently possess value include the Dallas Stars (+2000) and the aforementioned Kings (+2500). Dallas has started slowly, but if the Stars get an upgrade in goal to back up their skilled attack, they could be poised for a run in the Western Conference.

The fact that the Kings have been snakebit scoring-wise during a small sample of games does not mean a team with premier defenseman such as Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin could not be a dangerous playoff team. The Kings were the No. 8 seed when they won their first Cup in 2012. At this juncture, they have a lot of value.