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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.

Capitals betting favorites, hosting Blackhawks on Wednesday night

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With their star forwards skating together again, the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin are back to winning ways.

The Capitals are a -135 moneyline favorite with the Chicago Blackhawks coming back at -122 and a 5.5-goal total for Wednesday’s game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Washington is 5-1 in its last six games, and the total was 6.0 or more in four of those six contests. The Blackhawks have lost four in a row coming into this inter-conference matchup.

Chicago is 12-10-5 on the season, which includes a decent 4-3-3 record as an underdog and 6-5-3 on the road. Goalie Corey Crawford is on injured reserve, which means backup Anton Forsberg is expected to start, which is a dicey proposition for a team that is allowing 33.7 shots per game, third-highest in the NHL.

One reason to believe that the Blackhawks might have some spark is that coach Joel Quenneville is shaking up his lines, as most recently RW Patrick Kane and LW Artem Anisimov are flanking Brandon Saad, while captain Jonathan Toews has new linemates. Chicago’s hot hand is rookie Alex DeBrincat, who has 10 goals in 15 games in a role that shields him from facing opponents’ top defense pairing.

Washington is 16-11-1 on the season including an 11-8 record as a favorite and a 10-5 home record at Verizon Center. Ovechkin has six goals over his last five games since being reunited with C Nicklas Backstrom. Washington will not have RW T.J. Oshie (upper body injury) in the lineup, C Evgeny Kuznetsov also has a hot stick with three goals in four games.

A red flag in this matchup comes on special teams. Washington’s power play is a lethal 37.5 percent over its last 10 games, and the Chicago penalty kill is a below-standard 62.5%. Everything evens out in hockey, but that sample would seem to favor the Capitals.

It is too early in the long haul of the 82-game NHL regular season to read too much into statistics, but defensively the Capitals and G Braden Holtby have one of the biggest home/road splits in their goals-against average – a tidy 2.27 at home when coach Barry Trotz has the last player change, and an unsightly 3.85 on the road.

The total has gone under in seven of Chicago’s last nine games as an underdog on the road, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has gone under in six of Washington’s last 10 games as a favorite at home.

 

Streaking Rangers Road Underdogs Against Blackhawks for Wednesday

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Patrick Kane and Chicago Blackhawks have some trends which bode well for them cooling off the New York Rangers when the teams meet on Wednesday night.

The Blackhawks are a -130 home-ice favorite with the Rangers coming back at +118 in their matchup on Wednesday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total is at 6.0 goals. The Rangers are 6-0 in their last six games while the Blackhawks are 1-4 in their last five home outings. However, Chicago is a dominant 8-2 in their 10 most recent games against Metropolitan Division opponents.

The Rangers, who are 9-7-2 this season, have been scoring goals on the regular thanks in large part to a fast-paced style of play. Games with a total of 6.0 have gone over the majority of the time so far this season in the NHL. New York is averaging 4.25 goals over its last eight games, and its power play, quarterbacked by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, is on a hot streak at 8-for-19 in the last six games.

Having skilled forwards such as Mika Zibanejad, J.T. Miller and Pavel Buchnevich means the Rangers should not be starved for quality scoring chances. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist typically plays well against Chicago, with a 6-2-2 record, 2.19 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

The Rangers are 2-5 in their last seven road games as the underdog.

The Blackhawks, 8-8-2 on the season, had an ugly 7-5 loss against the New Jersey Devils in their most recent game. But Kane broke a goal drought in that game and rookie Alex DeBrincat is also on a hot streak with three in the past two contests. Chicago is also a strong bounce-back team that is 12-4 in its last 16 games after a game where it scored five goals.

The upshot of that aforementioned loss is that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will likely shake up his lines, and those adjustments often create a short-term gain for teams.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford did not complete the game against New Jersey, but he has a good track record against the Rangers with a .921 save percentage in six career games.

The total has gone under in six of the Rangers’ last 10 games, with one push, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has also gone under in six of the Blackhawks’ last 10 games, with one push. The total has gone under in five of the Blackhawks’ last seven home games as the favorite.