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Favored Rangers seek end to home-ice hex against the rival Islanders

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While the teams’ records can be thrown out when the NHL’s two city rivals meet, the New York Rangers do take a strong record in back-to-back games into their clash against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

The Rangers, who are relying on goalie Antti Raanta to hold the fort with superstar Henrik Lundqvist (lower body injury) sidelined, are only 2-7 straight-up in their last nine home games against the Islanders, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

However, the Rangers should have some motivation after an overtime defeat on Tuesday against the also-ran New Jersey Devils. In fact, the Rangers, home favorites for Wednesday’s game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, are 7-3 in their last 10 games when they were playing the second of back-to-back contests.

The Islanders, who are 33-26-12 on the season, should be ready to play desperate hockey since they have had a three-day break and are only 1-4 in their last five games. Coach Doug Weight has shuffled his lines to stimulate some offense, reuniting captain John Tavares (nine points over his last 10 games) with his regular left wing, Andrew Ladd.

The Islanders, who should have fresh legs, could also get a spark in the offensive zone from recent rookie call-up Josh Ho-Sang.

The break might also be a boon for Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, who has an unsightly 3.46 goals-against average and .893 save percentage so far this month. Some of that can be put down to the recent play by the Islanders, who are also 3-7 in their last 10 divisional road games.

The Rangers are 45-24-4 on the season, but just 5-7 across their last 12 games, which has dropped them into fourth in the Metropolitan Division. Veteran winger Rick Nash ended a nine-game goal drought against the Devils, but has been shut out so far this season against the Islanders. The Rangers also finished the New Jersey game strongly, leveling 16 shots on goal in the third period.

Raanta is having a strong month with a 2.13 GAA and .924 save percentage. The Rangers are 1-4 in their last five divisional home games.

The total has gone under in three consecutive Islanders’ games for bettors on the NHL odds. The total has gone over in six of the last nine games where the Rangers were favored at home against the Islanders.

Friday NHL playoff slate has Bruins, Capitals set as the betting favorites

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With Bobby Ryan and the Ottawa Senators having won three one-goal decisions in a row to put the Boston Bruins on the brink of elimination, oddsmakers’ lines seem to anticipate that a turnaround could be in the offing.

The Bruins are a slight -120 moneyline favorite against the -110 underdog Senators with a five-goal total for their Game 5 matchup on Friday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Ottawa, which is up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, is actually 8-2 straight-up in its last 10 home games against the Bruins.

While the Senators and standout defenseman Erik Karlsson are only 7-10 at home against fellow Atlantic Division teams this season, they have been able to frustrate Boston during this series. They are also 8-1 in the last nine games that goalie Craig Anderson has started against Boston.

The Bruins will once again not have a full lineup since defensemen Torey Krug (lower body), Adam McQuaid (upper body) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) are not expected to play. Up front, Boston is also floundering at drawing penalties, having earned just seven power plays in the last three games.

The total has gone OVER in four of the Bruins’ last six divisional road games, with one push, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has gone UNDER in seven of the Senators’ last 10 home games.

In the other Game 5 of an Eastern Conference series, the Washington Capitals (-210) are heavy favorites at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs (+170) with a 5.5-goal total. The moneyline is significantly lower from where it closed for the Capitals’ first two home games in the series, which was before Toronto banked a win.

The Capitals and their offensive leaders such as Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie were able to seize on some structural breakdowns by Toronto in a series-tying 5-4 win on Tuesday. The Leafs, particularly a fledgling defensive corps featuring the likes of Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev, will have to pare down their mistakes. It does appear that Toronto, with their young guns such as Auston Matthews, will keep getting their share of scoring chances.

Washington is 6-2 in its last eight home games as a favorite of -200 to -500 on the moneyline. However, Toronto is 4-1 in its last five games as a road underdog.

The total has gone UNDER in six of Toronto’s last nine road games as an underdog. The total has also gone UNDER in four of the Capitals’ last five home games in April.

Blackhawks Favored on Stanley Cup Odds Heading into NHL Playoffs

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The NHL is not a dynasty league, but having won a Stanley Cup can create an image with oddsmakers.

On the cusp of the playoffs, captain Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks are the +400 favorites on the 2017 Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Chicago has won the Cup in three of the last seven seasons and played well down the stretch to earn home-ice advantage through the first three rounds, at least.

However, it’s the Metropolitan Division that dominates the top of the futures board with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (+450), Sidney Crosby and the reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+800), the pesky Columbus Blue Jackets (+1000) and the New York Rangers (+1400), who are a cross-over team.

Playing out of the weaker Atlantic Division, the Montreal Canadiens (+1400) may stand a good chance of getting to the third round unscathed, and of course goalie Carey Price can steal games.

The Minnesota Wild (+800) faded badly in the last quarter of the regular season. The San Jose Sharks (+1400) were two wins from the Cup in 2016, but the lingering effect of a deep playoff run has been borne out with the injuries to centers Joe Thornton and Logan Couture.

The Capitals are listed at +225 on the odds to win the Eastern Conference, followed by the Penguins (+350). The rest of the field would need a lot of breaks and lights-out goaltending to win, which means Montreal (+650) has the most tangible value.

The Blackhawks are a +180 favorite to win the West. Minnesota (+400) has a lot of red flags. With Pacific Division teams, there’s always a question about travel lag, so perhaps the young Edmonton Oilers (+800) and Connor McDavid are worth a play. The St. Louis Blues (+1400) could pose a problem for the Blackhawks if each moves on to the Central Division final.

No No. 1 seed has been eliminated in the first round since the NHL re-introduced a division-based playoff format in 2013-14. In the first-round series prices, Montreal (-125) has the worst odds of any first-place team, but they dominated New York (+105) during the season and sit at a 57.2% chance to win the series according to the numbers at PredictionMachine.com.

The Anaheim Ducks (-165) face the up-and-coming Calgary Flames (+145). Calgary goes into the series with an 0-27 SU streak in their last 27 road games against Anaheim, and will have to win there at least once to take the series.

It’s probably better to focus on 2 vs. 3 matchups when trying to pick a betting underdog. In the Central bracket, St. Louis (+123) is a classic case of a team reborn after a coaching change and their bench boss, Mike Yeo, used to be employed by their opponent, Minnesota (-143).

And the Ottawa Senators (+155) are a much more consistent team than the Boston Bruins (-175) and won in all four regular-season matchups.