Penguins are home moneyline favorites in Stanley Cup Final Game 5

Leave a comment

Having yet to trail during any game so far in the Stanley Cup final, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are in position to clinch the championship when they host the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 on Thursday.

The Penguins’ depth, along with money goaltending from the 22-year-old rookie Matt Murray, has helped them take a 3-1 lead in the NHL championship series. For Game 5, the Penguins are listed as a -160 moneyline favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with the Sharks installed as a +144 underdog.

The total is set at five goals. The total has gone UNDER in nine of the Sharks’ last 20 playoff road games, with three pushes. It has also gone UNDER in nine of the Penguins’ last 20 playoff home games, with four pushes.

The Penguins, dating to mid-November this season, are 13-7 in their last 20 games at the Consol Energy Center where they were a moneyline favorite of -150 or more according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

As many experts anticipated going into the series, the Penguins’ speed and luxury of having four lines that can contribute offensively has helped them have the run of play against San Jose. They have gone 435 minutes 46 seconds – the equivalent of more than seven regulation games – without playing with a deficit, since San Jose’s only win in the series was a come-from-behind overtime decision.

Crosby has lived up to his reputation as one of the game’s top all-around centers. Right wing Phil Kessel, who assisted on the first two Penguins goals in their 3-1 win in Game 4 on Monday, is considered the frontrunner to be selected NHL playoff MVP if the Penguins win the Cup. Pittsburgh has also had timely goals from depth forwards such as Conor Sheary and  Eric Fehr.

The Sharks, who are in their first Stanley Cup final, are hopeful that the two-day break since their Game 4 loss will help them regain some energy. San Jose has not been blown out in a game, but its most reliable attackers such as C Logan Couture, C Joe Thornton and RW Joe Pavelski are all goal-less against the Penguins.

The Sharks’ offensive punch has also taken a hit with the loss of LW Tomas Hertl (lower body injury). San Jose is 5-6 on the road in the playoffs, with an even 5-5-1 over/under split.

Thirty-one of the 32 teams that have fallen behind 3-1 in the Stanley Cup final have been eliminated. The only exception was in 1942.

Penguins heavy favorites against Senators for Thursday’s Game 7 matchup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Betting against Sidney Crosby in a do-or-done game takes some guts, since the Pittsburgh Penguins’ history shows they find a way when their backs are against the wall.

With a spot in the Stanley Cup final at stake, the Penguins are a -200 moneyline favorite against the +170 underdog Ottawa Senators with a five-goal total for Thursday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The winner moves on to the Stanley Cup final against the Nashville Predators.

This season, Pittsburgh is 14-1 in 15 games when it was a favorite of -200 to -500 on the moneyline, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. They are also 14-3 in their last 17 home games against Ottawa, but one big reason this series has required Game 7 is that the Penguins are 1-7 on the puckline in their last eight games against the Senators.

It’s no secret that Ottawa, which is 27-21-2 on the road this season and 35-28-5 as the underdog, will rely on goalie Craig Anderson (45 saves in Game 6) and their execution of a 1-3-1 neutral zone trap. The Senators have a strong defense with Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci, who have helped Ottawa stay in most games..

Ottawa will try to be opportunistic and hope that the likes of RW Bobby Ryan or C Kyle Turris can produce timely goals. Ottawa has been a moneyline underdog of +150 or more nine times since the NHL all-star break. They are 4-5 in those matchups.

Pittsburgh is 37-7-6 at home this season, as well as 51-17-11 as a favorite. They are 2-0 in Game 7s under head coach Mike Sullivan (both on the road), and have outplayed Ottawa over each of the last three games.

The presence and talent of Crosby and C Evgeni Malkin might be the hole cards that give the Penguins the ability to offset several key injuries. Defenseman Justin Schultz (upper body), defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (upper body), RW Patrik Hornqvist (upper body) and RW Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body) could all miss the game on Thursday.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray has allowed only three even-strength goals in three games since taking over as the starter. The total has gone under in six of Ottawa’s last nine road games against Pittsburgh.

If Pittsburgh wins, it will be the first time the franchise has won Game 7 of a series at home after losing Game 6 on the road. Ottawa is also out to buck a historical trend as it is 0-5 all-time in Game 7s, home and away. The last was in 2012.

NHL Conference Final Odds: Penguins, Predators Series Betting Favorites

Leave a comment

In the wake of their latest humbling of the Washington Capitals, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are seen by oddsmakers as capable of repeating as the Stanley Cup champions.

The Penguins are listed at +175 on the latest odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Anaheim Ducks (+250) and Nashville Predators (+300), the opponents in the Western Conference final, are second and third on the board, while the Ottawa Senators (+450) draw in as the darkhorse.

No team has repeated as champions since the NHL’s salary-cap era began in 2005. Pittsburgh is also allowing 35.3 shots per game in the playoffs, which seems a tad high for a championship team. A club with speed and an agile, mobile defense corps – such as Nashville with Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban – would match up well with the Penguins.

Nashville also hails from the Central Division, which has produced four of the NHL’s last nine champions.

Nashville (-125) is a slight favorite against Anaheim (+105) on the NHL series prices for the Western Conference final, which begins at Anaheim on Friday. Although the Predators are in their first conference final, they come in with one of the deepest lineups, with C Ryan Johansen and RW Viktor Arvidsson among the dangerous players on a team that does offense by committee.

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Nashville G Pekka Rinne has also been much more consistent than Anaheim’s 24-year-old John Gibson.

Anaheim, as long as Ryan Getzlaf isn’t neutralized, is a strong veteran team. They did have a draining seven-game series in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers where the attrition included losing depth forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw.

The fact that the total has gone over in six of the Ducks’ last nine games isn’t encouraging. The total has gone over in seven of Nashville’s last 10 road games against Anaheim, with two pushes. The Ducks are listed as small -115 home favorites for Game 1 on Friday.

In the Eastern Conference series price, Pittsburgh (-300) is a massive favorite against Ottawa (+250). The combo of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin (who is the +500 favorite on the Conn Smythe Trophy odds) and Matt Cullen, man-for-man, surpasses Ottawa’s top centers, Kyle Turris, Derick Brassard and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Pittsburgh, which is 9-1 at home against Ottawa over the last five seasons according to the OddsShark NHL Database, will need a strong offense to cover up for its suspect defense.

It might be tempting to take Ottawa and its dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson in the series just because their price is so inviting. Ottawa has stymied two opponents by forcing teams to get through their 1-3-1 trap before testing steady goalie Craig Anderson, but frustrating a team with as much playoff experience as Pittsburgh is a tall task.