NHL Conference Final Odds: Penguins, Predators Series Betting Favorites

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In the wake of their latest humbling of the Washington Capitals, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are seen by oddsmakers as capable of repeating as the Stanley Cup champions.

The Penguins are listed at +175 on the latest odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Anaheim Ducks (+250) and Nashville Predators (+300), the opponents in the Western Conference final, are second and third on the board, while the Ottawa Senators (+450) draw in as the darkhorse.

No team has repeated as champions since the NHL’s salary-cap era began in 2005. Pittsburgh is also allowing 35.3 shots per game in the playoffs, which seems a tad high for a championship team. A club with speed and an agile, mobile defense corps – such as Nashville with Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban – would match up well with the Penguins.

Nashville also hails from the Central Division, which has produced four of the NHL’s last nine champions.

Nashville (-125) is a slight favorite against Anaheim (+105) on the NHL series prices for the Western Conference final, which begins at Anaheim on Friday. Although the Predators are in their first conference final, they come in with one of the deepest lineups, with C Ryan Johansen and RW Viktor Arvidsson among the dangerous players on a team that does offense by committee.

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Nashville G Pekka Rinne has also been much more consistent than Anaheim’s 24-year-old John Gibson.

Anaheim, as long as Ryan Getzlaf isn’t neutralized, is a strong veteran team. They did have a draining seven-game series in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers where the attrition included losing depth forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw.

The fact that the total has gone over in six of the Ducks’ last nine games isn’t encouraging. The total has gone over in seven of Nashville’s last 10 road games against Anaheim, with two pushes. The Ducks are listed as small -115 home favorites for Game 1 on Friday.

In the Eastern Conference series price, Pittsburgh (-300) is a massive favorite against Ottawa (+250). The combo of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin (who is the +500 favorite on the Conn Smythe Trophy odds) and Matt Cullen, man-for-man, surpasses Ottawa’s top centers, Kyle Turris, Derick Brassard and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Pittsburgh, which is 9-1 at home against Ottawa over the last five seasons according to the OddsShark NHL Database, will need a strong offense to cover up for its suspect defense.

It might be tempting to take Ottawa and its dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson in the series just because their price is so inviting. Ottawa has stymied two opponents by forcing teams to get through their 1-3-1 trap before testing steady goalie Craig Anderson, but frustrating a team with as much playoff experience as Pittsburgh is a tall task.

Bruins Small Betting Favorites at Blues for Wednesday NHL Matchup

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Some great offensive talents will be spectators for an interconference NHL matchup that was already imbued with some strong under trends.

The Boston Bruins and star left wing Brad Marchand are slim -115 favorites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, while the St. Louis Blues come back as -105 underdogs for Wednesday’s matchup. There is a 5.5-goal total for the contest.

Boston is likely to be minus center Patrice Bergeron (foot), left wing David Backes (leg laceration) and defenseman Zdeno Chara (upper body), while left wing Rick Nash (upper body) might be a game-time decision. St. Louis is expected to be without leading scorer Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body).

The depleted lineups could lead to a defensive affair. Coincidentally, the OddsShark NHL Database shows the total has gone under in six of the Bruins’ last nine road games against the Western Conference. The total has gone under in eight of the Blues’ last 10 home games against Eastern Conference teams.

Injury woes notwithstanding, Boston is 45-17-9 on the season, including a solid 20-10-4 road record. That said, the Bruins have lost all three of their road games against Central Division teams this season (two as the favorite) and improving that small sample might rest on having young right wings David Pastrnak and Ryan Donato (just signed from Harvard University) cover the absence of proven scoring if Nash is a no-go on Wednesday.

The Bruins are on the first leg of a five-game road swing as they try to chase down the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is aiming for a bounce-back game after allowing five goals in a game for the first time in more than two months during Boston’s defeat against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

While their organization appeared to cut bait on this season when it traded Paul Stastny within the division (to Winnipeg) at the trade deadline, the Blues are 39-28-5 and are hanging around the Western Conference wild-card playoff race. St. Louis has won two games in a row and the re-jigged Brayden Schenn-Jaden Schwartz-Alex Steen first line has helped cover for not having Tarasenko.

The Blues are 6-3 in their last nine home games against the Atlantic Division, but that includes three recent wins against teams that are far out of playoff contention.

St. Louis, which is a home underdog for only the second time all season, is providing better support to goalie Jake Allen. Allen has allowed only 15 goals across his last six starts with a decent save percentage, as Alex Pietrangelo and the Blues defense corps has thrived at limiting the volume of shots their goaltender faces. That’s another reason why this shapes up as a low-scoring game.

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.


Flyers, Penguins Set for Pick’em Matchup on Wednesday NHL Odds

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The Philadelphia Flyers are expected to have Wayne Simmonds back to help their attack for a big Metropolitan Division matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. The Flyers and the Penguins are both pegged at odds of -110 in this pick’em matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, with the game’s total set at 6 goals.

The teams are dead-even at 5-5 in their last 10 meetings at the Wells Fargo Center, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The Flyers are just 4-6 in their last 10 games when they also play the following day, while the Penguins are 4-6 in their last 10 road games.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are 38-25-4 overall, including a 7-3-0 mark over their last 10 games. With Crosby, fellow center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Phil Kessel aboard, the Penguins are seldom an underdog on the NHL odds. The main concern with the Penguins, though, is their defending.

With goalie Matt Murray (concussion) sidelined, Pittsburgh has been counting on backup Tristan Jarry and has wound up in some scorefests of late. Pittsburgh is 2-0 against Philadelphia this season, even though the starting goalie left each game due to an injury.

The Flyers are 34-21-11 in the Metropolitan Division standings but have sagged of late with a 3-6-1 mark over the last 10 games. Adding Simmonds is expected to give Philadelphia, which is 4-4 in divisional home games this season, a more bona fide three-line attack, as he’ll play on Valtteri Filppula’s line. Center Sean Couturier is also emerging as one of the NHL’s most complete forwards.

Goalie Petr Mrazek, who can be inconsistent from period to period, never mind game to game, will likely start for the Flyers since Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are both on injured reserve. Backup Alex Lyon has not played in more than two weeks.

The total has gone over in five of the Penguins’ last six road games. The total has gone over in eight of the Flyers’ last 10 matchups when they were also playing the next day.

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.