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Bruins road favorites at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday

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The Boston Bruins, the hottest team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, are likely starting a backup goalie on Wednesday night and have a shaky record in the second leg of back-to-back games. Whether that comes into play depends on their opponent.

The Bruins are a -120 moneyline favorite against the struggling New York Rangers, who are coming back at +105. There is also a 5.5-goal total for their matchup on Wednesday night, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Boston comes into its first game with left wing Brad Marchand back from suspension with a 13-3 record over its last 16 away games, as well as a 10-0 mark in its last 10 games when they were favored on the road. However, Boston is 3-5 this season while playing for the second night in a row, as well as 0-5 in its last five road games against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

With that said, this is a matchup of first versus almost the worst in everyone’s NHL power rankings, as the Bruins are 32-11-8 on the season, including an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games. The return of Marchand to the top line with center Patrice Bergeron and right wing David Pastrnak is timely, since depth forwards Noel Acciari (lower-body), Anders Bjork (upper-body) and Jimmy Vatrano (lower-body) are all ailing.

Boston, which is an even 5-5 over its last 10 road games against Metropolitan Division teams, will likely start backup goalie Anton Khudobin. He is 0-2-2 lifetime against New York.

Understandably, the recent efforts of the Rangers, whose 25-23-5 record includes being 3-7 in their last 10 games, will give many bettors pause. Amid rumors of left wing Rick Nash being unloaded before the NHL trade deadline on February 26, the Rangers are scuffling offensively, having scored more than two goals only twice in their last seven games.

Center Mika Zibanejad has been a bright spot, but New York has been a dreadful possession team and having right wing Pavel Buchnevich (concussion) and left wing Jimmy Vesey (concussion) injured reduces their capacity to be a spread team.

While the Metropolitan Division is more highly regarded than the Atlantic Division, the Rangers are just 5-9 in their last 14 regular-season home games against Atlantic teams. However, longtime goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 27-12-2 in his career against Boston, so the low-percentage value play predicated on Lundqvist stonewalling the Bruins and stealing the win is available.

The total has gone over in three of the Bruins’ last four road games against the Metropolitan Division, with one push, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. The total has gone over in the Bruins’ last three road games against the Rangers. The total has also gone over in six of the Rangers’ last 10 games as an underdog at home.

For more odds info, 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 check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

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.

NHL Odds: Favored Predators host Golden Knights

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Inasmuch as everything evens out over the run of 82 games in the NHL, the Nashville Predators might have the law of averages on their side against the inconsistent Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.

The Predators are a -165 betting favorite on the Tuesday NHL odds with the Vegas Golden Knights coming back +135, while there is a 5.5-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

According to the OddsShark NHL Database, Nashville has lost its last three home games against Pacific Division teams but is 16-9 over its last 25 regular-season home games against the other division from the Western Conference. The Predators, paced in the scoring stats by Filip Forsberg, are also 6-4 in their last 10 regular-season home games as a -150 to -175 moneyline favorite, which seems lower than what one might anticipate from a team that finished first overall last season and also was a Stanley Cup finalist in 2016/17.

The Golden Knights are 5-5-1 on the season, including a 2-3 away record. The Vegas attack will likely be missing some of its forward depth with Cody Eakin (upper body injury) and Max Pacioretty (upper body injury) both listed as a day-to-day, and their top-end forwards such as William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault will be facing a deep Nashville defense corps led by Roman Josi and P.K. Subban.

While creating offensive chances at even strength might be a challenge, Vegas, which is 3-7 in its last 10 regular-season road games as the underdog, is also struggling with the extra skater. Their power play, at 10.8 percent, is 29th in the 31-team NHL.

Veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to get the start for Vegas. Fleury has a 2.50 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.

The Predators are 8-3 but have had more adverse results at the Bridgestone Arena, where they are 3-3 on the young season. The JOFA line of center Ryan Johansen, the aforementioned Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson have sustained Nashville offensively by scoring 19 of their 38 goals, including 10 from Forsberg alone.

That’s not really a recipe for long-term success, and until the Predators begin getting secondary scoring on a regular basis, some of their recent OVER trends might regress toward parity. To that end, Nashville is also languishing in the power-play rankings at 14.6 percent, 25th in the league.

In goal, Juuse Saros has a 2.73 goals-against average and .912 save percentage so far this season while filling in for Pekka Rinne, who is on injured reserve.

The total has gone OVER in five of Vegas’ last eight regular-season road games as an underdog of -130 to -150 on the moneyline. The total has gone OVER in six of Nashville’s last nine regular-season home games. The total has also gone OVER in six of Nashville’s last seven home games against Pacific 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 Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.