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Sharks Underdogs Against Penguins Heading into Stanley Cup Final

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The San Jose Sharks are gunning for a third straight road win on Monday as they get set to make their first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 as +135 betting underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Crucial road victories in Games 2 and 5 powered San Jose to a six-game series win over the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Final, lifting their league-best road win total this season to 33 games heading into Monday’s Sharks vs. Penguins betting matchup at Consol Energy Center.

After posting 28 road victories during the regular season, the Sharks have continued their road warrior ways in the postseason, winning five of nine away from the SAP Center, and have surrendered just five total goals over their past three road contests.

Goaltending has played a crucial role in the Sharks’ march to the Stanley Cup Final, with Martin Jones rising to the occasion during his first NHL playoff run, leading the Sharks to underdog series wins over the Blues and the Los Angeles Kings.

With Jones holding opponents to just 13 total goals over his past seven outings, the Sharks’ skaters have been able to focus on offense, outshooting opponents in five of their past seven while racking up 27 total goals, pushing the total OVER in each of their past three games.

Game 1 marks Pittsburgh’s first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final since their last championship victory in 2009. It has been a tale of two seasons for the Penguins, who struggled to find the net during an early-season string of mediocrity which culminated in the firing of coach Mike Johnston.

The Penguins have been a different club under bench boss Mike Sullivan, finishing the regular season on a 27-10 run, including wins in 14 of their final 16 games according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Pittsburgh needed seven games to get past the wounded Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, but get the nod from oddsmakers as a solid -155 favorite to take Game 1, and is a slim -120 favorite on the NHL series prices.

Young goaltending has also played a crucial role in the Penguins’ playoff success, with 22-year-old Matt Murray taking over in place of injured veteran Marc-Andre Fleury to record 11 of the club’s 12 postseason wins, improving to 20-7 on the season.

The clubs split a pair of games this season, each posting road wins, but San Jose has dominated historically, winning 15 of 20 meetings with the Penguins dating back to 1999.

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.