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Rangers betting favorites against Penguins in spite of home-ice woes

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With star goalie Henrik Lundqvist due for his first home start in three weeks, the New York Rangers stand an excellent chance of breaking two negative trends when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

The Rangers are listed as the -130 favorite against the +100 underdog Penguins with a total of 5.5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Rangers are 0-7 straight-up in their last seven home games at Madison Square Garden, but much of that trend occurred while Lundqvist was sidelined with a hip injury. The Sidney Crosby-led Pittsburgh Penguins are also scuffling due to a plethora of injuries, having lost four games in a row.

The Penguins are 46-19-11 this season, including 4-6 across their last 10 games. Crosby may be reunited with each of his linemates, since LW Conor Sheary is back and RW Jake Guentzel (concussion) is a game-time decision. Veteran D Ron Hainsey (upper body) may also return.

Injuries throughout the second half have contributed to the Penguins having to adopt a simplified system, which might be a contributing factor to why the total in their last three road games against Metropolitan Division counterparts has gone under.

Matt Murray, who has a 2.86 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in March, will likely start in goal for the Penguins. Backup Marc-Andre Fleury got the call on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Rangers are 46-26-5 this season, including 3-7 across their last 10 games. Lundqvist will be trying to find his form before the playoffs; he allowed five goals apiece in each of his first two starts since returning.

New York, which relies on scoring by committee through Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan, has already clinched a playoff berth but will likely finish fourth in the Metropolitan. With their recent struggles, though, it’s doubtful they will go on auto-pilot before the playoffs. Stepan goes into the game on a four-game point streak.

Defencemen Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Klein did not practice on Thursday, but are likely to play. The Rangers are 1-5 in their last six home games against fellow Metropolitan teams.

The total has gone under in eight of the Penguins’ last 10 road games and has also gone under in four of their last six games as a road underdog, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Penguins home favorites against Predators for Game 5 of Stanley Cup final

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In what’s been a strictly home-ice Stanley Cup final, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been bet up into a heavy favorite against the Nashville Predators for the likely series-turning Game 5.

The Penguins are a -155 moneyline favorite against the +135 underdog Predators with a 5.5-goal total for Thursday’s matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Penguins opened at -139 on the moneyline, but they are also riding a trend of being 9-3 in their last 12 home playoff games.

That means there is betting value in taking the Predators, who are a respectable 5-5 SU on the road during the postseason. Nashville has topped Pittsburgh in five-on-five shot attempts in all four games of the series. The main pregame question revolving around the Predators involves the health of D P.K. Subban (ankle), who is part of the shutdown pair that has held Penguins C Evgeni Malkin without a goal for three consecutive games.

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne also allowed eight goals on 36 shots during the two previous games at Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.

The Predators have had the run of play during the series, largely by virtue of a blueline led by Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Subban. They also managed to win Game 5 on the road in the third round against Anaheim, although that came in a rink where they were 4-4 in their most recent eight games, which tops a 1-6 record in their last seven road games against the Penguins.

The Penguins are 8-3 at home in these playoffs heading into Thursday’s Game 5 matchup, but have been increasingly reliant on C Sidney Crosby as the final has unfolded. Reliable sources of offense such as RW Phil Kessel and RW Bryan Rust are on six-game goal droughts, while Pittsburgh’s power play has been powerless through the first five games.

However, any physical limitations with Subban could be a boon to Malkin. Left wing Jake Guentzel (playoff-most 13 goals, including four in as many games versus Nashville) will also be looking for a bounce-back after missing some top scoring chances during Game 4.

Pittsburgh’s defense is mostly a patchwork outfit; Crosby actually led the Penguins in ice time in Game 4, which is rare for a forward. While there’s been speculation about a goalie switch, Matt Murray is most likely to start.

The total has gone OVER in five of Nashville’s last seven games against Pittsburgh for totals bettors, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The Predators will host Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final on Sunday night.

 

Penguins betting favorites to repeat as Stanley Cup champions

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will have to keep being opportunistic – against probably the best defense and goalie combo they have seen in the playoffs – in order to repeat as the Stanley Cup champion.

In series prices for the Stanley Cup final the Penguins are the -155 favorite against the +135 underdog Nashville Predators at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Penguins, who are 7-0 in playoff series since Mike Sullivan became their coach midway through last season, are attempting to become the first team in the salary cap era to win back-to-back Cups.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh at Monday. For Game 1, Pittsburgh is a -165 moneyline favorite against the +145 underdog Predators with a 5.5-goal total.

The Predators, who are 16-13-2 as an underdog, have been the stingiest team during the playoffs (1.81 goals per game). Goalie Pekka Rinne has raised his level of play while being supported by a defense with a top four of Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban, who help Nashville control possession and set the pace. Rinne is remarkably resilient; he has allowed exactly one goal in each of Nashville’s last four games after a defeat.

Nashville comes in trailing some significant injuries, with C Ryan Johansen (compartment syndrome) done for the year. However, C Mike Fisher (undisclosed) is expected back for Game 1 and young C Colton Sissons has done a fine job covering for Johansen. Winger Filip Forsberg comes into this series on a seven-game point streak.

The Penguins, who are 52-17-11 as a favorite this season, will be facing a major adjustment in going from the Ottawa Senators’ conservative defensive style in their previous round to Nashville’s high-paced game. However, with offensive linchpins such as Crosby and C Evgeni Malkin and their supporting cast that includes LW Conor Sheary, RW Jake Guentzel and RW Phil Kessel, the Penguins are very efficient offensively.

The Penguins have the highest team shooting percentage (9.6%) during the playoffs. Granted, they’re less likely to outshoot the Predators than the Senators. Crosby’s line will also have to outwork Subban and Ekholm, who have shut down a string of elite centers during the playoffs.

Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray has been solid since getting the No. 1 job back four games ago. The Penguins aren’t as deep defensively as the Predators, allowing 2.21 goals per game in the playoffs, but D Justin Schultz has provided a boost since getting healthy.

The total has gone over in just six of Nashville’s last 20 playoff games with seven pushes, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has gone over in eight of Pittsburgh’s last 20 playoff games, with two pushes.