Canada the clear favorite on World Cup of Hockey odds, USA trails

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Team Canada is the chalk pick on the World Cup of Hockey futures board, but the field has been shuffled ahead of the tournament’s first games in Toronto on Saturday.

Canada, which produces roughly half of all NHL players, has won eight of the 12 Olympic and major international best-on-best tournaments that have been held since 1976. No other nation has won more than once. With stars such as Sidney Crosby and Drew Doughty, Canada is listed at -105 to win the World Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Among a Group A that also consists of Russia (+500), the United States (+600) and the Czech Republic (+2500), Canada should be able to get the top-two finish that ensures a semifinal berth; website PredictionMachine.com has Canada winning the tournament in just under 40 percent of its simulations.

Among the teams in Group A with Canada, Russia and the Washington Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin is a mysterious second favorite. The nation’s focus in international hockey is usually on the world championship, which conflicts with the Stanley Cup playoffs. Russia has not medalled in the last three Olympic hockey tournaments.

Team USA is counting on two-way players such as Ryan Kesler to dominate possession and shut down opponents. Reigning NHL MVP and scoring champion Patrick Kane is on hand as the marquee player, but the Americans will need Stanley Cup-winning goalie Jonathan Quick to be great.

The Czech Republic always seems to come into international tournaments – be it the Olympics, worlds, or the Christmastime world junior championship – overshadowed. If goalie Michal Neuvirth is in peak form, they have a chance to surprise a few teams.

The movement on the board is in Group B. Team North America is listed at +1200, down from +2000 in July. The team of under-23 talents such as Auston Matthews, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Aaron Ekblad and Nathan MacKinnon scored 13 goals in three pre-competition games, even though McDavid was not on the scoresheet.

Sweden, which typically contends thanks to having New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, is listed at +600. Finland’s prop has come down to +1100, from +1400 in July. Nashville Predators G Pekka Rinne has the potential to steal games. Finland was the bronze medallist in the last two Olympics. The group also includes Team Europe at +3300.

The top two teams in each group advance to the cross-over semifinals on September 24 and 25. The best-of-three final begins September 27.

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.