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.

 

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.