Getty Images

Penguins host Flyers as favorites at Heinz Field on Saturday night

Leave a comment

With a depleted defense corps, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins could be vulnerable against the Philadelphia Flyers when they take their cross-state rivalry outside on Saturday night.

The Penguins are a -206 betting favorite against the +185 Flyers with a 5.5-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in their NHL Stadium Series matchup, which will take place at Heinz Field on Saturday night.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are dealing with injuries to a quartet of defensemen, with Kris Letang (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Trevor Daley (knee) and Justin Schultz (concussion) all banged up.

But as one would expect of a team led by Crosby, the Penguins don’t squander opportunities when they’re a big favorite. The OddsShark NHL Database shows the Penguins are 9-1 straight up in their last 10 home games as a favorite with a moneyline of -200 to -500.

Philadelphia is 28-25-7 on the season, including a 2-6 mark in their last eight games. The Flyers need to start winning soon in order to stay in the Eastern Conference wild card race, and need the likes of C Claude Giroux and C Brayden Schenn to pick up the pace offensively.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth will make his sixth consecutive start for the Flyers, but has a 2.38 goals-against average and just an .894 save percentage since the all-star break.

The Flyers are overdue for an upset win on the road. They are 1-11 in their last dozen games as the road underdog. Their track record when the odds are really against them is closer to respectability; they are 3-7 in their last 10 road games as an underdog with a moneyline of -150 to -500.

Pittsburgh is 37-14-8 on the season, but injuries on the back end have led to a modest 6-4 record over their last 10 games. With Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cullen, the Penguins are one of the strongest teams in the NHL down the middle.

Veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey, who was picked up by the Penguins on Thursday in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, and will make his Pittsburgh debut. But the Penguins are going to be a shaky pick as long as they are relying on replacement-level rearguards such as Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy.

In spite of the instability on the blue line – and the NHL’s midseason mandating of more form-fitting goalie pants – Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray has a 1.82 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage since the all-star break. The Penguins are also 16-4 in their last 20 home games as the favorite.

For whatever it is worth, the Penguins are 1-2 all-time in outdoor games. The Flyers are 0-2.

The total has gone over in eight of Pittsburgh’s last 11 home games as the favorite. The total has also gone over in seven of Pittsburgh’s last 10 home games against its division.

Capitals Among NHL Betting Favorites on Saturday Playoff Slate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The law of averages would suggest the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin are bound to see success at home in the playoffs eventually.

The Capitals are the -165 consensus favorite with the Columbus Blue Jackets coming back at +145 and a 5.5-goal total for their playoff matchup on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Each team has won twice in the other team’s arena to forge a 2-2 tie in the best-of-seven series, and Washington is just 3-6 in its last nine playoff games at home.

Washington has had the stronger offensive performance in the series, led by the Evgeny Kuznetsov-Ovechkin-Tom Wilson line, and it is 5-1 in its last six home games as a moneyline favorite of -150 to -500. The other development with Washington is that goalie Braden Holtby has retaken the job, after Philipp Grubauer struggled during their two home losses.

Columbus, which is 4-6 in its last 10 away games against Washington, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, may still be without injured forward Alexander Wennberg. The Blue Jackets power play is struggling, so its path to victory likely rests heavily on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stealing the win.

The total has gone over in seven of Columbus’ last 10 away games against the Metropolitan Division. The total has gone over in six of Washington’s last eight home games against the Metropolitan Division.

Elsewhere, the Boston Bruins (-190) have a chance to bounce the Toronto Maple Leafs (+165) in a primetime matchup that has a 5.5-goal total.

The Bruins, who won without No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron on Thursday, are an excellent 8-2 in their last 10 home games when they were a -175 to -500 moneyline favorite. Riley Nash has drawn in between left wing Brad Marchand and right wing David Pastrnak.

Toronto gets key forward Nazem Kadri back from a three-game suspension, but it is only 2-8 in its last 10 games as a +150 moneyline underdog or greater. Six of those losses were by exactly one goal, a sample that might interest puckline bettors.

And the Tampa Bay Lightning (-235) are heavily favored against the New Jersey Devils (+210), with a 6-goal total in the potential closeout game of their series.

The main storyline is that Devils No. 1 defenseman Sami Vatanen (upper body injury) likely won’t play after taking a borderline illegal check from Tampa Bay first-line right wing Nikita Kucherov, who’s been exonerated by the league.

That plays heavily in favor of the Lightning, who are 10-4 in their last 14 home games against Metropolitan Division teams.

The total has gone over in 14 of Tampa Bay’s last 15 home games against Metropolitan teams, so the 6.0 total shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. The total has also gone over in five of the last seven New Jersey-Tampa Bay matchups.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

 

NHL Playoffs Betting Preview: Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup Odds Favorites

GETTY
Leave a comment

The Presidents’ Trophy hex hangs over the Nashville Predators, who have the top Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com at the outset of the NHL playoffs.

After finishing first overall, the Predators are the +375 favorite on the odds to win the Stanley Cup. However, only one top finisher in the last nine seasons – the Chicago Blackhawks in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign – has gone on to win the Cup. Also, not since the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins has the Cup winner also been the previous season’s runner-up.

That said, with a well-balanced lineup from the goal out, where Pekka Rinne looms, Nashville is a worthy favorite. There just might be more value lower on the board.

Two Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Bruins (+550) and Tampa Bay Lightning (+600), are high up, although no more than one of them will get past the second round. The Vegas Golden Knights (+750) have a tempting price, but they are, after all, a first-year team.

Three of the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners lost in the second round, where the dangerous Winnipeg Jets (+800) could face Nashville. The two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+1000) cannot be ruled out, thanks to the presence of Sidney Crosby, but whoever wins the Metropolitan Division will have a tough Eastern Conference final opponent from the Atlantic.

The Penguins (-225) are big favorites on the NHL series prices at the sportsbooks against the Philadelphia Flyers (+195) in their Metropolitan matchup. The Flyers have been a streaky team and that typically bodes poorly against the Penguins.

The Washington Capitals (-125) are not all that deep into minus money against the Columbus Blue Jackets (+105), but captain Alex Ovechkin had a bounce-back season at age 32. Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled in the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Boston Bruins (-160), counting on six rookie regulars, could have some patchy spots in their lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs (+140) in their Atlantic matchup. Toronto won the season series 3-1, while Boston had a string of slow starts to games in the regular season.

The Lightning (-300), who led the NHL in goals scored, should have sufficient firepower to wear down the wild-card New Jersey Devils (+250).

Thanks to the Jets’ shallow playoff history, Winnipeg (-190) carries value against the Minnesota Wild (+165) in a Central Division matchup. The Wild’s defense is in shambles with Ryan Suter (ankle) sidelined and Jared Spurgeon just back from a hamstring injury.

Nashville (-400) could make short work of the depleted Colorado Avalanche (+330). Colorado will not have No. 1 defenseman Erik Johnson or goalie Semyon Varlamov for the series.

The Anaheim Ducks (-120) and San Jose Sharks (even) meet in a Pacific Division matchup, where the main question is the status of Ducks goalie John Gibson. The outlook could shift quickly if Gibson is not 100 per cent. San Jose’s trade-deadline pickup of Evander Kane could also do wonders for its scoring depth.

And Vegas (-130) could find trouble translating its offense-oriented game into success against the Los Angeles Kings (+110). The Kings allowed the fewest goals in the NHL and also had the most efficient penalty kill.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.