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Rangers Solid Favorites Hosting Blackhawks on Wednesday

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While it will be tough for the New York Rangers to keep winning at home at their current rate, they are catching a sagging Chicago Blackhawks team on Wednesday.

The Rangers are -150 home-ice betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com with the Blackhawks coming back at +120 in a matchup that takes place on Wednesday night. The total is 5.5. The Rangers, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, are 12-3 in their last 15 games as a home favorite. In contrast, the Blackhawks are 2-6 in their last eight road games as the underdog and have also lost four of their last five games.

Chicago is 18-14-6 overall this season, including an 8-9-4 mark away from home, but the Blackhawks have scored only seven goals in their last five games. Star forward Patrick Kane is scoring at a point-per-game pace. However, other key attackers such as as Jonathan Toews (one goal in six games) and Brandon Saad (one in seven) are struggling, and the Rangers’ defense is in the top 10 of the 31-team NHL.

Bettors probably shouldn’t put great stock in Chicago being 5-1 in its last six games after a two-day break, since their previous game on Sunday was two time zones away in Calgary.

The Blackhawks are just 2-10 in their last 12 road games against teams with a point percentage above .600 (The Rangers’ is .603). Neither of their available goalies, Jeff Glass and Anton Forsberg, has ever started a game against the Rangers.

New York is 21-13-5 overall, including a 15-6-3 record at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers, in hockey parlance, have been playing “hit the logo” lately, having scored only eight goals in their last four games despite averaging 37.5 shots in those games.

The total has gone over in five of the Rangers’ last seven home games against Western Conference teams, and a road-weary opponent without its top goalie seems conducive for team scoring leaders such as Pavel Buchnevich (six games without a goal) and Mats Zuccarello (five) to break out.

Two of the Rangers’ other scoring threats, Michael Grabner and J.T. Miller, scored goals during New York’s most recent outing, a 3-2 overtime win outdoors in the Winter Classic against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

Should the Rangers give the starting nod to veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist, know that he is 6-3-2 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .921 save percentage lifetime against Chicago.

The total has gone over in the Blackhawks’ last three road games. The total has gone over in seven of the Rangers’ last 10 home games against Central Division teams.

Ewan wins Stage 11; Conti keeps pink jersey in Giro

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NOVI LIGURE, Italy (AP) Caleb Ewan of Australia sprinted to victory on the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, while Italian cyclist Valerio Conti remained the overall leader.

Ewan, who rides for Lotto-Soudal, edged out Arnaud Demare and Pascal Ackermann in a bunch sprint at the end of the entirely flat 221-kilometer (137-mile) route from Carpi to Novi Ligure.

Conti remained 1 minute, 50 seconds ahead of Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, who is one of the favorites, and 2:21 ahead of Nans Peters of France.

It was the second victory at this year’s Giro for the 24-year-old Ewan, who also won the sprint at the end of the eighth and longest stage on Saturday.

The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.

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Lightning heavy favorites on Stanley Cup odds at all-star break

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The NHL has a team far out in front in the overall standings as it heads into its all-star break – and that might serve to goose the value of other Stanley Cup contenders.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who have been first overall for most of the season, are the +260 favorite on the latest Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Lightning, with a deep offense led by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos and a premiere defenseman in Victor Hedman leading their back end, lead the NHL in points, wins, goals scored and goal differential.

The top of the futures board also includes the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames (+550), San Jose Sharks (+750), Toronto Maple Leafs (+800) and Winnipeg Jets (+800).

As loaded as the Lightning are, the top team in the regular season rarely lifts the Stanley Cup in the spring. The 2008 Detroit Red Wings are the most recent team to finish first overall and go on to win the whole thing in a full 82-game season. Only eight of 33 Presidents’ Trophy winners have also won the Stanley Cup.

Calgary is a solid second favorite, with left wing Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Mark Giordano being among the NHL’s best at their positions. As a western Canada-based team, the Flames are also likely to fly under the radar of public bettors. Their question mark revolves around goalies David Rittich and Mike Smith having almost no Stanley Cup playoff experience.

Sticking in the Pacific Division, San Jose is a springtime-seasoned team, having made the final in 2016, and their current standing has come with dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson working his way back to peak form after adapting to a new team.

At this stage of the game, bettors looking for value in a league that prides itself on parity should consider teams with greater than 10/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The cluster of teams that includes the Nashville Predators (+1400), Vegas Golden Knights (+1500), New York Islanders (+1600), Pittsburgh Penguins (+1600) and defending champion Washington Capitals (+2000) includes plenty of playoff experience.

The Penguins are always a threat with Sidney Crosby and have weathered injuries, including one to No. 1 goalie Matt Murray, during the first four months of the regular season. The Predators and Golden Knights are the two most recent Western Conference finalists and are both strong puck-possession teams, while the Islanders are under the command of head coach Barry Trotz, who steered Washington to its first Stanley Cup in 2018.

It might be best to fade the Capitals, though, until such time that No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby shows he can recover his past form.

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 Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.