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Edmonton Oilers close gap on Pittsburgh Penguins on Stanley Cup odds

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The Stanley Cup futures board might appear to be based on the “don’t bet against Sidney Crosby” principle, but it also reflects the disparity between the NHL’s two conferences.

With the regular season beginning next week, Sid the Kid and the two-time reigning champion Penguins remain the +750 betting favorite to lift the silver chalice in 2017/18, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

But since the board opened in June, the price on the Edmonton Oilers and Connor McDavid have come down to +800. Of course, the Oilers would have to get through the tough Pacific Division in the playoffs, and likely a tough Central Division club in the conference final.

The Penguins have freed up salary-cap space by seeing off G Marc-Andre Fleury. Being in the Eastern Conference, which isn’t as deep as the West, also means a better chance of getting through three series to make the Stanley Cup final. The Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks (+1200) might not have the depth to skate through such a gauntlet.

No fewer than six teams – the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, 2017 runner-up Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals – are being offered at +1400. Losing two-way C Ryan Kesler to hip surgery makes it best to take a wait-and-see approach with Anaheim.

From among that group, Nashville, due to its defense and goaltending, and Tampa Bay, due to having stars such as D Victor Hedman and C Nikita Kucherov as well as a clean bill of health for C Steven Stamkos, are justifiable plays.

McDavid (+150) is the favorite to win the Hart Trophy as most valuable player, followed by Crosby and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 20-year-old phenom Auston Matthews (+850). Being in the league’s largest media market could goose Matthews’ chances, although the Leafs aren’t quite a contender yet.

The playoffs and regular season are practically two different sports in the NHL, so laying chalk in division props is not a must. Pittsburgh (+225) is favored on the odds to win the Metropolitan Division, but the lower-profile Columbus Blue Jackets (+450) with their all-American defense pairing of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, could make it interesting. Washington (+300) is probably due to take a step back.

Tampa Bay (+275) is favored to win the Atlantic Division. The Montreal Canadiens (+350) might be too reliant on goalie Carey Price, while Toronto (+375) had almost everything go right last season on the goaltending and injury fronts while squeaking into the playoffs.

There could also be some big-star bias inherent in Dallas (+275) and Chicago (+300) topping the Central Division board. Nashville (+350) is deeper defensively and in goal than both of those teams.

Edmonton (+225) has the low price in the Pacific Division, and as a younger team are more likely than the Anaheim Ducks (+275) to go all out for first place. Their rivals, the Calgary Flames (+600), might actually be Edmonton’s biggest barrier to regular-season supremacy, with both the Los Angeles Kings (+500) and San Jose Sharks (+450) being aging teams.

 

 

Jason Kelce wins the Eagles Super Bowl Parade with amazing speech

NFL Network
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The Eagles paraded down Broad Street in Philadelphia on Thursday to celebrate the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory. With over two million listening, center Jason Kelce stole the show during speech time.

Dressed as a mummer, similar to those in Philly’s annual New Year’s Day parade, Kelce delivered a rant too profane to be uncensored on television. He described what it was like to be an underdog and did not hesitate to call out analysts that wrote the Eagles off. After listing over a dozen players and coaches singled out by the media, he saluted the fans that have been hungry for a Lombardi Trophy for 52 years.

The entire city was fired up during the speech, but it’s hard not to be even if you aren’t an Eagles fan. Check out Kelce’s must-watch speech here:

Blackhawks betting favorites hosting Wild on Wednesday Night

AP
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Some recent line juggling has ignited a surge for the Chicago Blackhawks and Patrick Kane, as they head into a matchup against the Minnesota Wild, who have struggled on the road.

The Blackhawks, who have scored at least four goals in each of their last four games, are a -130 home-ice betting favorite with the Wild coming back at +110 on the moneyline for their matchup on Wednesday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total is set at 5.5 goals.

It’s the second leg of a back-to-back for each team. Chicago is only 2-6 this season in that scenario and Minnesota is 2-4, but a sample from the OddsShark NHL Database that is more favorable to the Blackhawks is their 5-1 record in their last six home games. The Wild, in contrast, are just 1-5 in their last six road games.

Minnesota is 22-17-4 overall, but that includes a poor 8-13-1 road record, as well as a 6-10-1 mark as an underdog. The Wild, who are in their final game before a bye week, could have a little momentum after rallying Tuesday to grab a valuable point in the standings during an eventual 3-2 OT loss against the Calgary Flames. The line of Mikko Koivu, Jason Zucker – the Wild’s resident speedster – and Mikael Granlund was on the ice for both Wild goals.

Minnesota has had to adjust its lines since RW Nino Niederreiter (lower body) is out of the lineup. Due to the nature of the game against Calgary, the Wild’s top defense pair, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon, each had a nearly 30-minute workload.

The Wild power play was 0-for-5 against Calgary and it is just 4-for-24 since the end of the NHL’s holiday break. Devan Dubnyk is sure to start in goal after backup Alex Stalock played against Calgary.

Chicago is 21-15-6 overall this season, including an 11-6-2 mark at home. Captain Jonathan Toews’ line with wingers Brandon Saad and Vinnie Hinostroza has combined for 17 points over the last four games. Kane had a career-most five points during an 8-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, and his line with C Nick Schmaltz and LW Ryan Hartman has also been prolific of late.

The Blackhawks power play broke out with a 4-for-6 night against Ottawa after failing to convert in their previous four games. In goal, Chicago might rely on temporary starter Anton Forsberg, who has won his past two starts.

One unflattering betting trend for the Blackhawks is their 2-5 record in their last seven home games against their Central Division counterparts. However, they have won in two of their last three meetings against Minnesota.

The total has gone under in four of the Wild’s last six games for totals bettors when they were playing for the second consecutive day. The total has also gone under in six of the Blackhawks’ last seven home games.