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Crosby, Penguins lead field on odds to win 2017 Stanley Cup

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No Stanley Cup champion has repeated since the National Hockey League became a cap league in 2005, but nevertheless the Pittsburgh Penguins have top opening odds to win the 2017 Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Sidney Crosby-led Penguins became the third NHL franchise to win multiple Cups during the cap era when they wrapped a six-game series win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. Pittsburgh, whose most recent win was in 2009, joined the Chicago Blackhawks (2010, ’13 and ’15) and Los Angeles Kings (2012, ’14) as teams that have won more than once since the cap’s creation.

The Penguins are listed at +800 to raise the silver chalice in 2017, although GM Jim Rutherford could have to move on from some players to get under the salary cap. The Penguins could address their salary-cap crunch by trading veteran C Evgeni Malkin, breaking up the long-running superstar tandem with Crosby.

Other teams with high odds are those with a central superstar. The Chicago Blackhawks, led by RW Patrick Kane and C Jonathan Toews, are listed at +1000 after a season where they bowed out of the playoffs early. The Washington Capitals and high-scoring LW Alex Ovechkin, who have a reputation for underachieving in the playoffs, are also listed at +1000.

The St. Louis Blues, who have never won the Cup but who went to the Western Conference final, are listed at +1200. The Blues have some salary cap room to play with and will have even more if they let free-agent C David Backes sign elsewhere.

Sticking in the Western Conference, the Sharks and their Pacific Division rival Los Angeles Kings each have +1400 Stanley Cup odds. On top of not having a draining playoffs this spring, the Kings are deep in quality forwards in C Anze Kopitar, as well as players such as RW Tyler Toffoli and LW Tanner Pearson who are each moving into their peak years.

The Kings also have cap space to add key pieces this season. The Anaheim Ducks, who are listed at  +1600, could also threaten to make it three finals in a row with a California-based team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who are pegged at +1400, have made it to at least the Eastern Conference final for two consecutive seasons. Tampa Bay’s franchise player, C Steven Stamkos, can become a free agent on July 1. Stamkos’ departure would alter the outlook for the Lightning, but they showed their impressive depth by going deep into the playoffs while he was receiving treatment for blood clots.

The Dallas Stars, who are at +1600, were the league’s most exciting offensive show for much of the season as they led the NHL with 267 goals. The playoffs pointed out that the Stars need to upgrade their defense and goaltending if they wish to win their first Cup since 1999.

Seven of the last 11 Stanley Cup champions have hailed from the Western Conference.

Blackhawks betting favorites hosting Wild on Wednesday Night

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Some recent line juggling has ignited a surge for the Chicago Blackhawks and Patrick Kane, as they head into a matchup against the Minnesota Wild, who have struggled on the road.

The Blackhawks, who have scored at least four goals in each of their last four games, are a -130 home-ice betting favorite with the Wild coming back at +110 on the moneyline for their matchup on Wednesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total is set at 5.5 goals.

It’s the second leg of a back-to-back for each team. Chicago is only 2-6 this season in that scenario and Minnesota is 2-4, but a sample from the OddsShark NHL Database that is more favorable to the Blackhawks is their 5-1 record in their last six home games. The Wild, in contrast, are just 1-5 in their last six road games.

Minnesota is 22-17-4 overall, but that includes a poor 8-13-1 road record, as well as a 6-10-1 mark as an underdog. The Wild, who are in their final game before a bye week, could have a little momentum after rallying Tuesday to grab a valuable point in the standings during an eventual 3-2 OT loss against the Calgary Flames. The line of Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker – the Wild’s resident speedster – and Mikael Granlund was on the ice for both Wild goals.

Minnesota has had to adjust its lines since RW Nino Niederreiter (lower body) is out of the lineup. Due to the nature of the game against Calgary, the Wild’s top defense pair, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon, each had a nearly 30-minute workload.

The Wild power play was 0-for-5 against Calgary and it is just 4-for-24 since the end of the NHL’s holiday break. Devan Dubnyk is sure to start in goal after backup Alex Stalock played against Calgary.

Chicago is 21-15-6 overall this season, including an 11-6-2 mark at home. Captain Jonathan Toews’ line with wingers Brandon Saad and Vinnie Hinostroza has combined for 17 points over the last four games. Kane had a career-most five points during an 8-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, and his line with C Nick Schmaltz and LW Ryan Hartman has also been prolific of late.

The Blackhawks power play broke out with a 4-for-6 night against Ottawa after failing to convert in their previous four games. In goal, Chicago might rely on temporary starter Anton Forsberg, who has won his past two starts.

One unflattering betting trend for the Blackhawks is their 2-5 record in their last seven home games against their Central Division counterparts. However, they have won in two of their last three meetings against Minnesota.

The total has gone under in four of the Wild’s last six games for totals bettors when they were playing for the second consecutive day. The total has also gone under in six of the Blackhawks’ last seven home games.

 

Flyers Heavy Betting Favorites Hosting Red Wings on Wednesday

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The Philadelphia Flyers have fared poorly as a huge moneyline favorite recently, but they are on a hot streak as they catch an unrested Detroit Red Wings team.

The Flyers are a -185 home favorite with the Red Wings coming back at +170 and the total at 5.5 goals at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in this matchup that takes place on Wednesday night.

Philadelphia is just 1-4 in its last five home games when it goes deeper into minus money than -160. However, the Flyers and captain Claude Giroux are 7-2-1 over their last 10 games overall. Detroit, dating to March, is 6-3 when it is in the second of back-to-back games.

The Red Wings are 12-13-7 overall, but only 3-5-5 in their 13 most recent games. They were outshot during their win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, though, and an attack that’s an amalgam of young forwards such as Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha and grizzled veterans such as Henrik Zetterberg has struggled to generate sustained offense.

Detroit is also just 3-7 in their last 10 road games as moneyline underdogs of +150 or more. Veteran goalie Jimmy Howard is probably in line to start after backup Petr Mrazek played against the Islanders

The Flyers are 14-12-7 on the season, thanks to their strong record over their last 10 games. Philadelphia lost against the Los Angeles Kings in their last game on Monday, but they are 4-1 in their last five games on one day’s rest. Giroux and C Sean Couturier, one of the NHL’s best defensive forwards, have also thrived since being put on a line together.

Philadelphia is 3-1 in its last four home games at Wells Fargo Center, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, since losing six home games in a row at one point.

Apart from Monday when he had a poor first period, Flyers goalie Brian Elliott has been hot, allowing two or fewer goals in six of his last seven starts.

If there is some early scoring, there’s a good chance the total will go over the pregame 5.5-goal total. The total has gone over in seven of the Red Wings’ last 10 road games against Metropolitan Division teams, with one push. The total has also gone over in eight of Detroit’s last 13 games when they played the previous day, with two pushes.