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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.

 

 

Capitals betting favorites, hosting Blackhawks on Wednesday night

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With their star forwards skating together again, the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin are back to winning ways.

The Capitals are a -135 moneyline favorite with the Chicago Blackhawks coming back at -122 and a 5.5-goal total for Wednesday’s game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Washington is 5-1 in its last six games, and the total was 6.0 or more in four of those six contests. The Blackhawks have lost four in a row coming into this inter-conference matchup.

Chicago is 12-10-5 on the season, which includes a decent 4-3-3 record as an underdog and 6-5-3 on the road. Goalie Corey Crawford is on injured reserve, which means backup Anton Forsberg is expected to start, which is a dicey proposition for a team that is allowing 33.7 shots per game, third-highest in the NHL.

One reason to believe that the Blackhawks might have some spark is that coach Joel Quenneville is shaking up his lines, as most recently RW Patrick Kane and LW Artem Anisimov are flanking Brandon Saad, while captain Jonathan Toews has new linemates. Chicago’s hot hand is rookie Alex DeBrincat, who has 10 goals in 15 games in a role that shields him from facing opponents’ top defense pairing.

Washington is 16-11-1 on the season including an 11-8 record as a favorite and a 10-5 home record at Verizon Center. Ovechkin has six goals over his last five games since being reunited with C Nicklas Backstrom. Washington will not have RW T.J. Oshie (upper body injury) in the lineup, C Evgeny Kuznetsov also has a hot stick with three goals in four games.

A red flag in this matchup comes on special teams. Washington’s power play is a lethal 37.5 percent over its last 10 games, and the Chicago penalty kill is a below-standard 62.5%. Everything evens out in hockey, but that sample would seem to favor the Capitals.

It is too early in the long haul of the 82-game NHL regular season to read too much into statistics, but defensively the Capitals and G Braden Holtby have one of the biggest home/road splits in their goals-against average – a tidy 2.27 at home when coach Barry Trotz has the last player change, and an unsightly 3.85 on the road.

The total has gone under in seven of Chicago’s last nine games as an underdog on the road, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has gone under in six of Washington’s last 10 games as a favorite at home.

 

Streaking Rangers Road Underdogs Against Blackhawks for Wednesday

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Patrick Kane and Chicago Blackhawks have some trends which bode well for them cooling off the New York Rangers when the teams meet on Wednesday night.

The Blackhawks are a -130 home-ice favorite with the Rangers coming back at +118 in their matchup on Wednesday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The total is at 6.0 goals. The Rangers are 6-0 in their last six games while the Blackhawks are 1-4 in their last five home outings. However, Chicago is a dominant 8-2 in their 10 most recent games against Metropolitan Division opponents.

The Rangers, who are 9-7-2 this season, have been scoring goals on the regular thanks in large part to a fast-paced style of play. Games with a total of 6.0 have gone over the majority of the time so far this season in the NHL. New York is averaging 4.25 goals over its last eight games, and its power play, quarterbacked by defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, is on a hot streak at 8-for-19 in the last six games.

Having skilled forwards such as Mika Zibanejad, J.T. Miller and Pavel Buchnevich means the Rangers should not be starved for quality scoring chances. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist typically plays well against Chicago, with a 6-2-2 record, 2.19 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

The Rangers are 2-5 in their last seven road games as the underdog.

The Blackhawks, 8-8-2 on the season, had an ugly 7-5 loss against the New Jersey Devils in their most recent game. But Kane broke a goal drought in that game and rookie Alex DeBrincat is also on a hot streak with three in the past two contests. Chicago is also a strong bounce-back team that is 12-4 in its last 16 games after a game where it scored five goals.

The upshot of that aforementioned loss is that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will likely shake up his lines, and those adjustments often create a short-term gain for teams.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford did not complete the game against New Jersey, but he has a good track record against the Rangers with a .921 save percentage in six career games.

The total has gone under in six of the Rangers’ last 10 games, with one push, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has also gone under in six of the Blackhawks’ last 10 games, with one push. The total has gone under in five of the Blackhawks’ last seven home games as the favorite.