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Penguins Favored Over Lightning in Game 7 on Thursday Night

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A berth in the Stanley Cup Final will be on the line on Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final as -200 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Pittsburgh avoided being ousted from the playoffs on Tuesday, posting a decisive 5-2 win to even the series at three games apiece heading into Thursday night’s Lightning vs. Penguins betting matchup at Consol Energy Centre.

The Penguins had entered the series as strong -180 favorites on the NHL series prices, but have had their hands full against a Tampa Bay squad that pushed them to the brink of elimination despite being outshot in all six games.

With each team posting a pair of road victories in the series having home-ice advantage in Game 7 may be of little comfort to the Penguins, who were 14-3 in their previous 17 home contests.

Pittsburgh must also reverse a worrisome three-game losing streak in Game 7’s since claiming their most recent Stanley Cup championship in 2009, with all three defeats coming at home including a 1-0 loss to the Lightning in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely get the call between the pipes once again for the Lightning on Thursday. The 21-year-old has filled in admirably for starter Ben Bishop, who remains sidelined by injury, giving the Lightning a chance to win despite seeing an average of over 38 shots per night in the series.

Overall, Tampa Bay is a respectable 7-4 in their past 11 meetings with the Penguins, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, including three wins in Pittsburgh, while Vasilevskiy’s strong performance has lifted his career record against the Penguins to 5-3.

Despite the Lightning’s recent success against Pittsburgh, and the Penguins’ struggle to close the deal in recent Game 7’s, Tampa Bay continues to trail on the Stanley Cup odds, sitting at +400, well back of the Penguins, who enjoy short +160 odds.

The San Jose Sharks patiently await the winner of Thursday night’s game after clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues, capturing the Western Conference crown in six games.

The Sharks entered the postseason well back of the favorites at +1600 on the Stanley Cup odds, and have now won two of their three playoff series after being pegged as early underdogs on the NHL series prices.

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

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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

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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.