Lightning, Golden Knights co-favorites on updated Stanley Cup odds

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A season that is nothing short of historic for an expansion team has put the Vegas Golden Knights at the top of the odds to win the Stanley Cup, but bettors will no doubt look past that since the playoffs are practically a different sport.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and the aforementioned Golden Knights are +600 co-favorites on the latest Stanley Cup futures at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

With just less than a third of the regular season to go and the NHL’s February 26 trade deadline less than two weeks away, the top of the board also includes the surging Boston Bruins (+800), Nashville Predators (+850), two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+900) and Winnipeg Jets (+1200), as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs (+1500) and Washington Capitals (+1500).

The Golden Knights, out of the four division leaders, have the highest chance of staying in first place and securing home-ice advantage. It remains to be seen if a team put together last summer can stick together in the playoffs; right wing James Neal is the only one of the Golden Knights’ top six scorers who has played in a Stanley Cup final.

Thanks to the division-based playoff format, only one team between the Lightning and the Bruins can advance past the second round. The Atlantic Division race will be worth monitoring as Tampa Bay, led by right wing Nikita Kucherov, and Boston, led by the likes of left wing Brad Marchand, are both near the top of the NHL in points percentage and goal differential. Each of the last 10 Stanley Cup winners has had a goal differential of at least +25, meaning that yes, the regular season does count to some extent.

The Maple Leafs have a Vezina Trophy candidate in Frederik Andersen, but only twice in the last 20 years has the league’s top goalie led his team to the Cup.

The Penguins and captain extraordinaire Sidney Crosby are coming on strongly in the Metropolitan Division and, of course, seem to have the Capitals’ number in the playoffs. No team has won three Cups in a row since the 1976-79 Montreal Canadiens won four straight in a league that was barely half the size of the current 31-team circuit.

While Nashville and Winnipeg are separated by 1,300 miles and an international border, their playoff roads could also go through each other in the Central Division. The price on the Predators and defenseman P.K. Subban probably reflects the track record they built while coming within two games of hoisting the Stanley Cup a season ago.

Winnipeg is an intriguing dark horse that has stayed near the top of the division and Western Conference even though No. 1 center Mark Scheifele has missed about a quarter of the schedule due to injury.

Teams that can be probably be crossed off include the sagging Chicago Blackhawks (+5000), Carolina Hurricanes (+5000) and New York Rangers (+5000). All three will probably be cashing in some trade chips this month as they try to retool.

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.

How to watch Boston Bruins vs NY Rangers: Live stream, TV channel, puck drop time for tonight’s game

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It’s the Bruins vs Rangers tonight on NBCSN. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. ET. Live coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. with NHL Live. See below for additional information on how to watch the game. Click here for the latest stats, scores, and division standings.

The Boston Bruins (8-1-2) currently lead the East division after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers last week (Feb. 3 and Feb. 5). David Pastrnak has helped the Bruins climb to the top spot since returning to the lineup on January 30, after undergoing a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16. The Bruins’ forward already has 5 goals and 3 assists in the 4 games he’s played in this season, making him third on the team in goals scored behind Brad Marchand (7 goals) and Patrice Bergeron (6 goals).

The New York Rangers (4-5-2) are coming off a 2-0 loss to the Islanders on Monday night. The Rangers made 30 shots on goal but just could not get past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov. Artemi Panarin currently leads the team in goals (5), points (15), and assists (10). Mika Zibanejad, who led the team with 41 goals last season, is still struggling to find the back of the net. The Rangers forward has just one goal on the season and one assist in his last eight games.

                                 RELATED: Rangers’ rebuild — Good, bad, and the Lafreniere

Tonight will be the first of eight meetings between the Bruins and Rangers this season and will mark the 700th all-time meeting since these Original Six rivals first played against each other in 1926. Watch live online or with the NBC Sports App.

How to watch Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers:

              RELATED: 2021 NHL Season: How to watch, new format, key dates, and schedule

Be sure to check out ProHockeyTalk for more on the 2021 NHL season including game previews, recaps, news, rumors and more. Click here for the 2020-2021 NHL on NBC regular season schedule.

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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