Penguins heavy home betting favorites against Blues as NHL season begins

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Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who typically take care of business as a big moneyline favorite on home ice, face an already banged-up team in their season opener.

The Penguins are a -200 moneyline favorite against the St. Louis Blues (+165) at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in one of the featured betting matchups on the NHL’s opening night on Wednesday.

The Penguins, who are also the favorite on the odds to win the Stanley Cup, are 7-3 in their last 10 regular-season home games as a moneyline favorite of at least -175. They are also 14-6 in their last 20 home games in October.

St. Louis went 12-5 in its final 17 road games last season but is missing several regulars due to injuries, including D Jay Bouwmeester (ankle), C Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and LW Alexander Steen (hand). That could make it easier for the Penguins, whose only reported injury is to LW Patric Hornqvist (hand), to focus on stopping Blues RW Vladimir Tarasenko, the offensive leader for St. Louis.

The total has gone under in five of the Blues’ last six road games.

Elsewhere on Wednesday night, the San Jose Sharks (-160) are favored against the Philadelphia Flyers (+130). The Sharks finished last season as a shaky play at 3-6 on the puckline in their final nine home games, but C Joe Thornton and C Logan Couture were hampered by injuries at that time.

The Flyers, who are 2-7 in their last nine road games against the Pacific Division, are hoping to have D Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body) on the ice on Wednesday night.

The total has gone under in the Sharks’ last five home games in October.

The Winnipeg Jets (-120) are a slight home favorite against the Toronto Maple Leafs (-110). The Leafs, with a cadre of young stars led by C Auston Matthews, are overdue for a turn in fortune against Winnipeg. They are 2-8 in their last 10 games against Winnipeg, including an 0-5 streak in their last five road games.

The total has gone over in Toronto’s last five road games against Winnipeg. Last season the Jets, led by RW Patrik Laine, were seventh in the NHL in goals scored but allowed the fourth-most, so that trend might continue.

And the Edmonton Oilers (-160), led by Connor McDavid, are favored against the Calgary Flames (+130). While the Flames are more about offense by committee than star power with LW Johnny Gaudreau, C Sean Monahan and C Mikael Backlund leading the way, they are 8-3 in their last 11 road games against the Oilers.

Calgary’s Achilles heel was goaltending last season, but it has added veteran G Mike Smith. The total has gone under in nine of Edmonton’s last 13 home games against Calgary, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

 

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.

 

 

Pittsburgh Penguins only team below 10/1 on 2018 Stanley Cup odds

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Anyone confident that the Pittsburgh Penguins can three-peat as Stanley Cup champions should probably wait until their price increases. With NHL free agency beginning this weekend, Sidney Crosby and the two-time defending champion Penguins are listed as +750 favorites on the 2018 Stanley Cup futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Penguins have the luxury of almost $20 million in salary cap space to work with as they seek to upgrade the supporting cast around Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, so there’s a chance they could be in a position to make another Cup run. That being said, their price against the 31-team field is actually lower than it was at the outset of the recently completed playoffs.

Given the parity of hockey, it’s best to see if the Penguins’ price swells back up into the 10/1 range once the season is underway in October.

The Chicago Blackhawks (+1200) and Edmonton Oilers (+1200) share second spot on the board. Chicago’s price seems like a red herring, given that the Blackhawks have gone out in the first round of the playoffs two seasons in a row and still have salary-cap issues that forced them to jettison one of their best forwards, Artemi Panarin.

The Oilers, of course, are getting reigning MVP Connor McDavid locked down on an eight-year contract, but their rabid fanbase could be in for some nervous times amid rumors that teams might try to sign star center Leon Draisaitl, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet.

Five teams draw in at +1400: the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. The Ducks are a bit on the old side, but the defending Western Conference champion Predators came within just two victories of a Stanley Cup despite losing two dangerous forwards, Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen.

The Rangers could be an interesting play if, indeed, they end up signing Kevin Shattenkirk, who is the only impact defenceman set to hit free agency.

The Lightning, provided they get a full season out of C Steven Stamkos, who’s complemented down the middle by Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point, could be in line for a bounce-back season. They missed the playoffs in 2017 after winning five playoff series over the previous two years. As for Washington, Alex Ovechkin and company had their best opportunity to win the Cup this past spring, and got shut out in Game 7 at home against Pittsburgh.

The Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs are each listed at +1600 on the Stanley Cup betting lines for 2018.

Some darkhorses at online gambling sites include the St. Louis Blues (+2800), who reached the second round last season before being ousted by Nashville and will have a new 1-2 punch next season with Vladimir Tarasenko being complemented by Brayden Schenn. While Edmonton is the highest Canadian team on the board, the Calgary Flames (+3000) look good on paper after dealing for veteran goalie Mike Smith and also adding D Travis Hamonic to support an impressive group of young forwards that includes Johnny Gaudreau.