Ovechkin, Capitals Wednesday favorites hosting the Rangers

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With goalie Henrik Lundqvist in need of fine-tuning his game before the Stanley Cup playoffs, the New York Rangers will carry a positive trend into their rivalry matchup against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

With little on the line standings-wise since both teams are locked into a playoff position, Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals are -190 betting favorites against the visiting +165 underdog Rangers, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Since November 2011, the Rangers are 7-3 straight-up in regular-season road games against the Capitals. Both teams are likely to hold out key players who have anything more serious than a hangnail. Washington has clinched the Presidents’ Trophy with the best overall record in the NHL, while the Rangers will be a cross-over wild-card team in the first round, facing the Montreal Canadiens in an Atlantic Division series.

The Rangers are 47-26-6 on the season, although they are just 3-7 across their last 10 games. Lundqvist, the franchise goalie, will be making his fifth start since missing three weeks due to hip injuries.

New York coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Tuesday that D Ryan McDonagh, RW Jesper Fast, RW Rick Nash and RW Mats Zuccarello will not play, along with possibly several other players. New York is very much a scoring-by-committee team, though, and fill-ins such as Pavel Buchnevich, Tanner Glass and Matt Puempel will be eager to show they deserve to be in the lineup, not the press box.

Lundqvist is 12-4-2 in his last 18 appearances against Washington.

Washington is 53-18-8 overall on the season, including 8-2 across its last 10 games. With home-ice advantage for the playoffs not in question, coach Barry Trotz might sit some of his key players, especially since Washington played the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

The Capitals are 4-6 in the last 10 contests when they were playing the second of back-to-back games, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Defenseman John Carlson, for one, was a game-time scratch for Washington against Toronto. However, goalie Braden Holtby is one key player who will surely start, since understudy Philipp Grubauer was between the pipes on Tuesday. Holtby is 7-9-1 in 17 career games against the Rangers.

The total has gone over in four consecutive Rangers’ games. The total has also gone over in six of New York’s eight most recent divisional road games, with one push. However, the total has gone over in just two of the Capitals’ 10 most recent divisional home games.

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.