Maple Leafs Visit Blackhawks as Small Underdogs on Odds

Leave a comment

The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t visit the Chicago Blackhawks often enough to deduce any betting trends, but Auston Matthews and Co. are solid in the front end of back-to-back games.

The Blackhawks, led by right wing Patrick Kane, are a -110 moneyline favorite and the Maple Leafs are a small +100 underdog with a 6.0-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com on Wednesday night.

Each team has been in a rut for much of January and would like to pick up all four possible points from back-to-back games just before the NHL all-star break. The Maple Leafs are just 1-5 (with three losses in extra time) over their last six games, but coach Mike Babcock’s club is 9-1 in their last 10 games when they were also scheduled to play the following day.

The Blackhawks are 0-3 in their last three home games and are also 5-5 in their last 10 games when they were also scheduled to play the following day (Toronto visits the Dallas Stars on Thursday, while Chicago visits the Detroit Red Wings.)

The Leafs have not won at the United Center since February 12, 2003, but this is only their eighth game in the Windy City in the last 14 seasons.

The Maple Leafs are 26-18-5, but a 3-5-2 record over their last 10 games has led Babcock to shake up his forward lines. Two-way center Nazem Kadri will be flanked by left wing Patrick Marleau and right wing Mitchell Marner to complement the Matthews-Zach Hyman-William Nylander first line.

Toronto is a solid 13-10-3 on the road, but that’s balanced out by both a troubling trend – try a 3-7 record over their last 10 road games against Central Division teams – and an injury situation, since unpredictable Jake Gardiner has to replace reliable Morgan Rielly (arm) on the first defense pairing.

Defensive lapses cost Toronto during its 4-2 loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, but it had a practice day in between to work on operating without Rielly.

Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen is 2-2-3 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in seven career games against Chicago.

The Blackhawks are 22-19-6, but are sagging of late as evidenced by their 4-6 record in their last 10 games, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, which includes being outscored 13-3 in their last three defeats. Kane remains a point-per-game scorer despite a constant churn of linemates (for now, it’s center Nick Schmaltz and left wing Patrick Sharp).

Bettors will have to make a pick on whether the Blackhawks remain mired in their offensive slump (six goals in five games) or experience a breakout from the likes of the Jonathan Toews-Brandon Saad-Anthony Duclair line against Toronto’s defense.

Chicago, which is 2-5 in its last seven home games against Eastern Conference teams, has yet to give a timeline on when No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford (upper body injury) will return. The start in goal is likely to go to Jeff Glass, a long-time minor leaguer who has never faced Toronto. He is 3-3-1 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.

The total has gone over in both five of the Maple Leafs’ last seven road games and their last three road games against Western Conference teams. The total has gone under in eight of the Blackhawks’ last 10 home games.

NHL Playoffs Betting Preview: Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup Odds Favorites

Leave a comment

The Presidents’ Trophy hex hangs over the Nashville Predators, who have the top Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com at the outset of the NHL playoffs.

After finishing first overall, the Predators are the +375 favorite on the odds to win the Stanley Cup. However, only one top finisher in the last nine seasons – the Chicago Blackhawks in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign – has gone on to win the Cup. Also, not since the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins has the Cup winner also been the previous season’s runner-up.

That said, with a well-balanced lineup from the goal out, where Pekka Rinne looms, Nashville is a worthy favorite. There just might be more value lower on the board.

Two Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Bruins (+550) and Tampa Bay Lightning (+600), are high up, although no more than one of them will get past the second round. The Vegas Golden Knights (+750) have a tempting price, but they are, after all, a first-year team.

Three of the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners lost in the second round, where the dangerous Winnipeg Jets (+800) could face Nashville. The two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+1000) cannot be ruled out, thanks to the presence of Sidney Crosby, but whoever wins the Metropolitan Division will have a tough Eastern Conference final opponent from the Atlantic.

The Penguins (-225) are big favorites on the NHL series prices at the sportsbooks against the Philadelphia Flyers (+195) in their Metropolitan matchup. The Flyers have been a streaky team and that typically bodes poorly against the Penguins.

The Washington Capitals (-125) are not all that deep into minus money against the Columbus Blue Jackets (+105), but captain Alex Ovechkin had a bounce-back season at age 32. Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled in the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Boston Bruins (-160), counting on six rookie regulars, could have some patchy spots in their lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs (+140) in their Atlantic matchup. Toronto won the season series 3-1, while Boston had a string of slow starts to games in the regular season.

The Lightning (-300), who led the NHL in goals scored, should have sufficient firepower to wear down the wild-card New Jersey Devils (+250).

Thanks to the Jets’ shallow playoff history, Winnipeg (-190) carries value against the Minnesota Wild (+165) in a Central Division matchup. The Wild’s defense is in shambles with Ryan Suter (ankle) sidelined and Jared Spurgeon just back from a hamstring injury.

Nashville (-400) could make short work of the depleted Colorado Avalanche (+330). Colorado will not have No. 1 defenseman Erik Johnson or goalie Semyon Varlamov for the series.

The Anaheim Ducks (-120) and San Jose Sharks (even) meet in a Pacific Division matchup, where the main question is the status of Ducks goalie John Gibson. The outlook could shift quickly if Gibson is not 100 per cent. San Jose’s trade-deadline pickup of Evander Kane could also do wonders for its scoring depth.

And Vegas (-130) could find trouble translating its offense-oriented game into success against the Los Angeles Kings (+110). The Kings allowed the fewest goals in the NHL and also had the most efficient penalty kill.

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.

Predators, Capitals tight on NHL betting lines for Thursday matchup

Leave a comment

The Nashville Predators take motivation – their playoff positioning isn’t secure – and a strong bounce-back trend into a Thursday night matchup of NHL division leaders against the Washington Capitals, who are expected to have top goal scorer Alex Ovechkin on the ice.

Washington is priced at -110 on the moneyline with a 5.5-goal total for Thursday on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Predators, who need to win only one of their two remaining games to clinch the Central Division and top overall seed in the Western Conference, are coming off a disappointing road defeat against the Florida Panthers, where they lost 2-1 despite a 36-27 edge on the shot counter.

The Predators are 8-1 in their last nine games after a loss where they outshot their opponent.

The OddsShark NHL Database shows that the Predators are only 3-7 in their last 10 regular-season away games in April. That might be canceled out by the Capitals’ identical 3-7 mark in their last 10 regular-season home matchups during the month.

The Predators are 51-18-11 but only 8-7 in away games against Eastern Conference teams. Nashville, with a solid offense by committee built around the likes of left wing Viktor Arvidsson, left wing Filip Forsberg and defenseman P.K. Subban, is only 5-5 in its last 10 games, but eight were against teams batting for playoff spots.

Nashville will likely start goalie Pekka Rinne, who will be aiming to fine-tune his game after posting an .880 save percentage in his five most recent starts.

The Capitals are 48-25-7, which includes being 11-3 at home against Western Conference teams. Ovechkin did not practice on Tuesday, leading to speculation that the Washington captain could sit out to get some rest before the playoffs start next week. However, he participated in the morning skate on Thursday.

Still, summoning center Travis Boyd and defenseman Madison Bowey from their Hershey Bears minor-league team could indicate that the Capitals might be as interested in evaluating players as they are in winning the game.

Washington has been rotating goaltenders Braden Holtby (.916 save percentage in his last five games) and Philipp Grubauer (.925 in his last five) over the last few weeks. Grubauer is expected to be between the pipes for the Capitals on Thursday night.

The total has gone under in seven of the Predators’ last 10 road games against the Eastern Conference, including the five most recent. The total has also gone under in seven of the Capitals’ last 10 regular-season home games in April.

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.