Red-hot Kane, Blackhawks carry strong trends into game against Penguins

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Not only will Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks get the Pittsburgh Penguins on the second night of a back-to-back, but they also take some strong trends into their home game against the defending Stanley Cup champions on Wednesday night.

The Blackhawks are the -130 favorite against the +120 underdog Penguins with a 5.5-goal total in their NHL betting matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Blackhawks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL with a 9-1 straight-up record over their last 10 games; the OddsShark NHL Database also shows an identical 9-1 record in their last 10 home games and an 8-2 record in their last 10 home games against Eastern Conference teams.

The Penguins, who lost to the lowly Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, are 5-5 in their last 10 games where they played the previous day.

Led by the indefatigable Sidney Crosby, the Penguins are 38-15-8 this season, although a spate of injuries to several defensemen has contributed to them going 5-5 over their last 10 home games. Kris Letang (upper body) is among the defensemen out of the lineup and his absence affects the Penguins, who are 4-6 in their last 10 road games against Western Conference teams.

However, with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as their top two centers, the Penguins are almost always able to generate offense. Recently-acquired veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey is also getting more comfortable with his new team.

Chicago is 39-18-5 on the year as it tries to chase down the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Central Division. Starting goalie Corey Crawford (illness) will be held out on Wednesday night with backup Scott Darling getting the call. Chicago is 11-5 in Darling’s last 16 starts. One notable absence for the Blackhawks is that of defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body), who is out until at least next week. Chicago did swing a trade on Tuesday for veteran Johnny Oduya to plug that hole.

The Blackhawks were hot in February, with Kane scoring nine goals in 10 games while captain Jonathan Toews has seven in his last 10. With fresher legs than Pittsburgh, they stand a good chance of having the run of the play.

The total has gone under in five of Pittsburgh’s last six road games on the NHL betting lines. The total has gone under eight of the last 10 games where Pittsburgh was playing the second of back-to-back games. The total has gone over in nine of Chicago’s last 10 games, as well as seven of the Blackhawks’ last nine home games.

Golden Knights betting favorites for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final

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Being up three games to one has often been a dangerous series lead for the Washington Capitals, which might be why the Vegas Golden Knights are favored to stave off elimination in the Stanley Cup final on Thursday night.

 

While Washington is one win away from its first Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights are a -145 moneyline favorite and the Capitals come back as a +125 underdog with a 5.5-goal total for Game 5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

 

In the league’s history, teams that have been up 3-1 in the Stanley Cup final have gone on to win the championship 32 of 33 times, including 31 in a row.

 

More in the here and now, Washington is 9-3 in 12 away games during the playoffs. Three of the four teams that had 10 road wins in a single postseason have won the Stanley Cup. Vegas is 7-3 in its last 10 home games as moneyline favorite of -135 to -200, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

 

The Capitals franchise has the dubious distinction of having lost five playoff series after leading 3-1, which is an NHL record. However, Washington’s top three centers, Evgeny Kuznetsov (playoff-leading 31 points), Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller, have generally outplayed their Vegas counterparts in this series.

 

Washington goalie Braden Holtby has a 2.13 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in the playoffs, with two shutouts.

 

The basis for backing the Golden Knights is that they have lacked puck luck, never more so than when left wing James Neal hit the post with a wide-open net when Game 4 was still scoreless on Monday. Top-line center William Karlsson, who did not practice on Wednesday, has been struggling, with only five recorded shots in four games during the Stanley Cup final and only three points in Vegas’ last seven games, well below his averages for the full season.

 

Vegas’ second and third lines, centered by Erik Haula and Cody Eakin, haven’t been able to cover for the dip in production from the Karlsson line.

 

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a 2.15 goals-against average and .929 save percentage with four shutouts in the playoffs. Fleury’s average has risen by almost half a goal during the last four games.

 

While it’s a small sample, the Capitals have had the special teams edge, as their power play is 4-for-12 (33.3 per cent) in the series. The Golden Knights are 2-for-12 (16.7 per cent).

 

The total has gone under in 14 of the Capitals’ last 18 games against Pacific Division teams. The total has also gone under in seven of the Golden Knights’ last seven games against Eastern Conference teams.

 

If Vegas wins and avoids elimination, the Capitals will host Game 6 on Sunday.

 

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.

 

Stanley Cup Final heads to Washington with Capitals Game 3 betting favorites

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The Vegas Golden Knights have produced value for bettors by playing the perfect road game, while the Washington Capitals are dealing with an injury to first-line center Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The Capitals are a -125 moneyline favorite while the Golden Knights are a +105 underdog and the total is at 5.5 for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The teams head into the matchup at Capital One Arena on Saturday with a two-day respite since splitting two games on Vegas’ home ice, reducing the NHL championship series to a best-of-5.

The OddsShark NHL Database notes that the Golden Knights, a first-year expansion team, are 6-2 in their last eight games as an away underdog. The under has hit in five of those contests, with two pushes. The Capitals are 2-4 in their last six home games as a favorite of -100 to -130. Overall, Washington is 4-5 at home during the playoffs, which suggests there is a strong chance of the series being tied again after Game 4.

The Golden Knights were only 8-8 during their 16 road games against Eastern Conference teams and bettors must decide whether their road record in the playoffs reflects more on their talent or how Vegas matched up with early-rounds opponents who had less team speed.

Vegas has a 73-54 edge in recorded shots on goal so far in the series, but its William Karlsson-Jonathan Marchessault-Reilly Smith first line will need to be creative to get loose from the Capitals’ mobile defense unit.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a 1.88 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage in the playoffs after allowing seven goals on 54 shots in the past two games. Fleury has not gone three games in a row all season with save percentages of less than .900.

For the Capitals, their foremost concern is whether Kuznetsov, who practiced on Friday after coming out of Game 2 early holding his left arm, will be able to take his No. 1 center spot between left wing Alex Ovechkin and right wing Tom Wilson. The Capitals’ adjustment during Game 2 was to put Nicklas Backstrom up on the Ovechkin line, with rookie left wing Jakub Vrana helping the second line generate more shot attempts than their Vegas counterparts.

Washington goalie Braden Holtby has a 2.19 goals-against average and .921 save percentage during the playoffs. Holtby is coming off a 37-save performance during Washington’s win in Game 2 and also had a shutout in the Capitals’ previous home game.

The total has gone under in Vegas’ last five road games against Eastern Conference teams, although the most recent contest in the sample was on March 12. The total has gone over in six of Washington’s last nine home games against Western Conference teams

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.