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NHL Playoffs Betting Preview: Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup Odds Favorites

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The Presidents’ Trophy hex hangs over the Nashville Predators, who have the top Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com at the outset of the NHL playoffs.

After finishing first overall, the Predators are the +375 favorite on the odds to win the Stanley Cup. However, only one top finisher in the last nine seasons – the Chicago Blackhawks in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign – has gone on to win the Cup. Also, not since the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins has the Cup winner also been the previous season’s runner-up.

That said, with a well-balanced lineup from the goal out, where Pekka Rinne looms, Nashville is a worthy favorite. There just might be more value lower on the board.

Two Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Bruins (+550) and Tampa Bay Lightning (+600), are high up, although no more than one of them will get past the second round. The Vegas Golden Knights (+750) have a tempting price, but they are, after all, a first-year team.

Three of the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners lost in the second round, where the dangerous Winnipeg Jets (+800) could face Nashville. The two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+1000) cannot be ruled out, thanks to the presence of Sidney Crosby, but whoever wins the Metropolitan Division will have a tough Eastern Conference final opponent from the Atlantic.

The Penguins (-225) are big favorites on the NHL series prices at the sportsbooks against the Philadelphia Flyers (+195) in their Metropolitan matchup. The Flyers have been a streaky team and that typically bodes poorly against the Penguins.

The Washington Capitals (-125) are not all that deep into minus money against the Columbus Blue Jackets (+105), but captain Alex Ovechkin had a bounce-back season at age 32. Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled in the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Boston Bruins (-160), counting on six rookie regulars, could have some patchy spots in their lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs (+140) in their Atlantic matchup. Toronto won the season series 3-1, while Boston had a string of slow starts to games in the regular season.

The Lightning (-300), who led the NHL in goals scored, should have sufficient firepower to wear down the wild-card New Jersey Devils (+250).

Thanks to the Jets’ shallow playoff history, Winnipeg (-190) carries value against the Minnesota Wild (+165) in a Central Division matchup. The Wild’s defense is in shambles with Ryan Suter (ankle) sidelined and Jared Spurgeon just back from a hamstring injury.

Nashville (-400) could make short work of the depleted Colorado Avalanche (+330). Colorado will not have No. 1 defenseman Erik Johnson or goalie Semyon Varlamov for the series.

The Anaheim Ducks (-120) and San Jose Sharks (even) meet in a Pacific Division matchup, where the main question is the status of Ducks goalie John Gibson. The outlook could shift quickly if Gibson is not 100 per cent. San Jose’s trade-deadline pickup of Evander Kane could also do wonders for its scoring depth.

And Vegas (-130) could find trouble translating its offense-oriented game into success against the Los Angeles Kings (+110). The Kings allowed the fewest goals in the NHL and also had the most efficient penalty kill.

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.

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.