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Capitals Among NHL Betting Favorites on Saturday Playoff Slate

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The law of averages would suggest the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin are bound to see success at home in the playoffs eventually.

The Capitals are the -165 consensus favorite with the Columbus Blue Jackets coming back at +145 and a 5.5-goal total for their playoff matchup on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Each team has won twice in the other team’s arena to forge a 2-2 tie in the best-of-seven series, and Washington is just 3-6 in its last nine playoff games at home.

Washington has had the stronger offensive performance in the series, led by the Evgeny Kuznetsov-Ovechkin-Tom Wilson line, and it is 5-1 in its last six home games as a moneyline favorite of -150 to -500. The other development with Washington is that goalie Braden Holtby has retaken the job, after Philipp Grubauer struggled during their two home losses.

Columbus, which is 4-6 in its last 10 away games against Washington, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, may still be without injured forward Alexander Wennberg. The Blue Jackets power play is struggling, so its path to victory likely rests heavily on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stealing the win.

The total has gone over in seven of Columbus’ last 10 away games against the Metropolitan Division. The total has gone over in six of Washington’s last eight home games against the Metropolitan Division.

Elsewhere, the Boston Bruins (-190) have a chance to bounce the Toronto Maple Leafs (+165) in a primetime matchup that has a 5.5-goal total.

The Bruins, who won without No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron on Thursday, are an excellent 8-2 in their last 10 home games when they were a -175 to -500 moneyline favorite. Riley Nash has drawn in between left wing Brad Marchand and right wing David Pastrnak.

Toronto gets key forward Nazem Kadri back from a three-game suspension, but it is only 2-8 in its last 10 games as a +150 moneyline underdog or greater. Six of those losses were by exactly one goal, a sample that might interest puckline bettors.

And the Tampa Bay Lightning (-235) are heavily favored against the New Jersey Devils (+210), with a 6-goal total in the potential closeout game of their series.

The main storyline is that Devils No. 1 defenseman Sami Vatanen (upper body injury) likely won’t play after taking a borderline illegal check from Tampa Bay first-line right wing Nikita Kucherov, who’s been exonerated by the league.

That plays heavily in favor of the Lightning, who are 10-4 in their last 14 home games against Metropolitan Division teams.

The total has gone over in 14 of Tampa Bay’s last 15 home games against Metropolitan teams, so the 6.0 total shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. The total has also gone over in five of the last seven New Jersey-Tampa Bay matchups.

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.

 

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.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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.