NHL Conference Final Odds: Penguins, Predators Series Betting Favorites

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In the wake of their latest humbling of the Washington Capitals, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are seen by oddsmakers as capable of repeating as the Stanley Cup champions.

The Penguins are listed at +175 on the latest odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Anaheim Ducks (+250) and Nashville Predators (+300), the opponents in the Western Conference final, are second and third on the board, while the Ottawa Senators (+450) draw in as the darkhorse.

No team has repeated as champions since the NHL’s salary-cap era began in 2005. Pittsburgh is also allowing 35.3 shots per game in the playoffs, which seems a tad high for a championship team. A club with speed and an agile, mobile defense corps – such as Nashville with Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban – would match up well with the Penguins.

Nashville also hails from the Central Division, which has produced four of the NHL’s last nine champions.

Nashville (-125) is a slight favorite against Anaheim (+105) on the NHL series prices for the Western Conference final, which begins at Anaheim on Friday. Although the Predators are in their first conference final, they come in with one of the deepest lineups, with C Ryan Johansen and RW Viktor Arvidsson among the dangerous players on a team that does offense by committee.

Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Nashville G Pekka Rinne has also been much more consistent than Anaheim’s 24-year-old John Gibson.

Anaheim, as long as Ryan Getzlaf isn’t neutralized, is a strong veteran team. They did have a draining seven-game series in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers where the attrition included losing depth forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw.

The fact that the total has gone over in six of the Ducks’ last nine games isn’t encouraging. The total has gone over in seven of Nashville’s last 10 road games against Anaheim, with two pushes. The Ducks are listed as small -115 home favorites for Game 1 on Friday.

In the Eastern Conference series price, Pittsburgh (-300) is a massive favorite against Ottawa (+250). The combo of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin (who is the +500 favorite on the Conn Smythe Trophy odds) and Matt Cullen, man-for-man, surpasses Ottawa’s top centers, Kyle Turris, Derick Brassard and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Pittsburgh, which is 9-1 at home against Ottawa over the last five seasons according to the OddsShark NHL Database, will need a strong offense to cover up for its suspect defense.

It might be tempting to take Ottawa and its dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson in the series just because their price is so inviting. Ottawa has stymied two opponents by forcing teams to get through their 1-3-1 trap before testing steady goalie Craig Anderson, but frustrating a team with as much playoff experience as Pittsburgh is a tall task.

Golden Knights underdogs at Winnipeg for Game 1 of Western Conference Final

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Sparse though the track record might be in an NHL playoff series between two franchises which had never won a playoff game before this year, the Winnipeg Jets are carrying some pronounced home-ice trends into Game 1 of the Western Conference final on Saturday.

The Jets are a -145 betting favorite on the NHL odds for Game 1, with the Vegas Golden Knights coming back at +125 and a six-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The OddsShark NHL Database shows that the Jets are 10-2 in 12 home games against Pacific Division teams. Vegas is 5-6 this season in away games against Central Division foes. However, the Jets have had just one day of rest since their second-round series ended, compared to the Golden Knights’ five-day break.

The Golden Knights, who are the first NHL expansion team since 1968 to win two playoff series, are 8-5 in their last 13 games as an underdog with any moneyline. Vegas has estimable forward depth, with centers William Karlsson, Erik Haula and Cody Eakin leading lines that have the speed essential to being a threatening team.

That doesn’t mean their games are high-scoring, though, as three of the Golden Knights’ last four games have ended with a shutout by either side.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a 1.53 goals-against average and .951 save percentage so far in the playoffs. Fleury and the Knights’ defense corps are stepping up from two playoff series against opponents who were the NHL’s 12th-ranked and 17th-ranked offenses from the regular season, to facing second-ranked Winnipeg.

The Jets, a -142 betting favorite on the NHL playoff series prices, are 16-4 in their last 20 home games at the Bell MTS Centre. In terms of their play against good teams, they are 8-3 in their last 11 home games as a moneyline favorite of -120 to -150. Like Vegas, Winnipeg has the requisite forward depth to be a Stanley Cup contender as the Mark Scheifele-Kyle Connor-Blake Wheeler trio is one of the NHL’s best lines, while Paul Stastny and Bryan Little lead solid second and third lines.

Goalie Connor Hellebuyck has a 2.25 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in the playoffs. Winnipeg’s first two playoff opponents were seventh and 11th in goal scoring in the regular season, while Vegas was fifth. Winnipeg is probably the deeper defensive team, thanks to defensemen such as Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba.

The total has gone under in six of Vegas’ last eight road games. The total has gone under in seven of Winnipeg’s last eight home games, as well as nine of the last 12.

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.

Capitals, Predators Both Road Underdogs on Thursday NHL Odds

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The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin have a good underdog trend that goes hand-in-hand with the belief that something is different in their latest playoff matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins are the -160 betting favorite for Game 4 of their second-round series on Thursday night, with the Capitals coming back at +140 on the moneyline and a 6.0 total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Capitals will be without right wing Tom Wilson (three-game suspension for checking an opponent in the head), but the OddsShark NHL Database shows that they are a more than respectable 8-5 in their last 13 games as a moneyline underdog of +130 or more. Washington is also 5-0 in its last five road games.

The Capitals’ postseason history with the Penguins – all-time, they’ve lost nine out of 10 series against their Metropolitan Division rival – is so well-documented that it barely needs mentioning. However, Washington, which leads the series 2-1, comes in with the more reliable goalie.

Braden Holtby has a 2.08 goals-against average and .925 save percentage during eight playoff games. In contrast, Penguins goalie Matt Murray has a 2.48 goals-against average and .906 save percentage but has had four starts already in the playoffs where his save percentage was less than .900.

No team with Sidney Crosby should be written off and the parity-driven nature of the NHL might lead some bettors to believe Washington cannot win twice in a row in Pittsburgh. However, the Penguins are just 16-14 in their last 30 home games as a moneyline favorite of -150 or farther into minus money.

The total has gone over in five of the Penguins’ last eight home playoff games, with three pushes.

Elsewhere on Thursday night, the Winnipeg Jets (-145) are favored against the Nashville Predators (+125), also with a 6.0-goal total in Game 4 of their second-round series. Winnipeg leads the series 2-1.

The Jets, led by center Mark Scheifele, are 13-0 in their last 13 home games at MTS Centre, although the total has gone over in just six of those contests. Winnipeg is also 4-1 at home in its last five home games against Nashville. With the Jets having 15 goals in the series’ first three games, there has been little sign that Nashville can handle the Jets’ speed and tempo.

The Predators were the favorites on the Stanley Cup odds at the outset of the playoffs but have been consistently inconsistent as an away team, going 6-6 in their last 12 road games as the underdog. While Nashville has one of the NHL’s deepest defense corps with the likes of Ryan Ellis and P.K. Subban, it is also just 4-8 in its last 12 playoff road games.

The total has gone over in eight of Nashville’s last 10 road games against fellow Central Division teams. The total has gone over in seven of Minnesota’s last 11 home games against Central Division 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.