Golden Knights underdogs at Winnipeg for Game 1 of Western Conference Final

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Sparse though the track record might be in an NHL playoff series between two franchises which had never won a playoff game before this year, the Winnipeg Jets are carrying some pronounced home-ice trends into Game 1 of the Western Conference final on Saturday.

The Jets are a -145 betting favorite on the NHL odds for Game 1, with the Vegas Golden Knights coming back at +125 and a six-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The OddsShark NHL Database shows that the Jets are 10-2 in 12 home games against Pacific Division teams. Vegas is 5-6 this season in away games against Central Division foes. However, the Jets have had just one day of rest since their second-round series ended, compared to the Golden Knights’ five-day break.

The Golden Knights, who are the first NHL expansion team since 1968 to win two playoff series, are 8-5 in their last 13 games as an underdog with any moneyline. Vegas has estimable forward depth, with centers William Karlsson, Erik Haula and Cody Eakin leading lines that have the speed essential to being a threatening team.

That doesn’t mean their games are high-scoring, though, as three of the Golden Knights’ last four games have ended with a shutout by either side.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a 1.53 goals-against average and .951 save percentage so far in the playoffs. Fleury and the Knights’ defense corps are stepping up from two playoff series against opponents who were the NHL’s 12th-ranked and 17th-ranked offenses from the regular season, to facing second-ranked Winnipeg.

The Jets, a -142 betting favorite on the NHL playoff series prices, are 16-4 in their last 20 home games at the Bell MTS Centre. In terms of their play against good teams, they are 8-3 in their last 11 home games as a moneyline favorite of -120 to -150. Like Vegas, Winnipeg has the requisite forward depth to be a Stanley Cup contender as the Mark Scheifele-Kyle Connor-Blake Wheeler trio is one of the NHL’s best lines, while Paul Stastny and Bryan Little lead solid second and third lines.

Goalie Connor Hellebuyck has a 2.25 goals-against average and .927 save percentage in the playoffs. Winnipeg’s first two playoff opponents were seventh and 11th in goal scoring in the regular season, while Vegas was fifth. Winnipeg is probably the deeper defensive team, thanks to defensemen such as Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba.

The total has gone under in six of Vegas’ last eight road games. The total has gone under in seven of Winnipeg’s last eight home games, as well as nine of the last 12.

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.

Capitals, Predators Both Road Underdogs on Thursday NHL Odds

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The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin have a good underdog trend that goes hand-in-hand with the belief that something is different in their latest playoff matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins are the -160 betting favorite for Game 4 of their second-round series on Thursday night, with the Capitals coming back at +140 on the moneyline and a 6.0 total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Capitals will be without right wing Tom Wilson (three-game suspension for checking an opponent in the head), but the OddsShark NHL Database shows that they are a more than respectable 8-5 in their last 13 games as a moneyline underdog of +130 or more. Washington is also 5-0 in its last five road games.

The Capitals’ postseason history with the Penguins – all-time, they’ve lost nine out of 10 series against their Metropolitan Division rival – is so well-documented that it barely needs mentioning. However, Washington, which leads the series 2-1, comes in with the more reliable goalie.

Braden Holtby has a 2.08 goals-against average and .925 save percentage during eight playoff games. In contrast, Penguins goalie Matt Murray has a 2.48 goals-against average and .906 save percentage but has had four starts already in the playoffs where his save percentage was less than .900.

No team with Sidney Crosby should be written off and the parity-driven nature of the NHL might lead some bettors to believe Washington cannot win twice in a row in Pittsburgh. However, the Penguins are just 16-14 in their last 30 home games as a moneyline favorite of -150 or farther into minus money.

The total has gone over in five of the Penguins’ last eight home playoff games, with three pushes.

Elsewhere on Thursday night, the Winnipeg Jets (-145) are favored against the Nashville Predators (+125), also with a 6.0-goal total in Game 4 of their second-round series. Winnipeg leads the series 2-1.

The Jets, led by center Mark Scheifele, are 13-0 in their last 13 home games at MTS Centre, although the total has gone over in just six of those contests. Winnipeg is also 4-1 at home in its last five home games against Nashville. With the Jets having 15 goals in the series’ first three games, there has been little sign that Nashville can handle the Jets’ speed and tempo.

The Predators were the favorites on the Stanley Cup odds at the outset of the playoffs but have been consistently inconsistent as an away team, going 6-6 in their last 12 road games as the underdog. While Nashville has one of the NHL’s deepest defense corps with the likes of Ryan Ellis and P.K. Subban, it is also just 4-8 in its last 12 playoff road games.

The total has gone over in eight of Nashville’s last 10 road games against fellow Central Division teams. The total has gone over in seven of Minnesota’s last 11 home games against Central 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 listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Pittsburgh Penguins among road betting favorites in Wednesday NHL action

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One reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have won the last two Stanley Cups is their killer instinct in the early stages.

With the NHL playoffs at the midpoint of the first round, the Penguins are a -140 moneyline favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the rival Philadelphia Flyers with a 6-goal total for Wednesday’s Game 4 matchup.

The OddsShark NHL Database shows that the Penguins are 8-4 in their last 12 road games during the playoffs in April. Pittsburgh, which is ahead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, has also scored exactly five goals in four of their last five road games against the Flyers.

Philadelphia, which is just 4-8 in its last 12 home games as a moneyline underdog of +120 to +150, has issues with two of its key forwards. Captain Claude Giroux has zero goals and one assist in the series’ three games, while center Sean Couturier (undisclosed) was injured after colliding with a teammate in practice on Tuesday.

The total has gone over in 11 of the Penguins’ last 13 road games. The total has also gone over in six of the Penguins’ last eight games against the Flyers.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (-144) are favored against the New Jersey Devils (+130) for their Game 4 matchup on Wednesday. However, Tampa Bay is only 5-5 in its last 10 games as a road favorite and two core players, right wing Ryan Callahan (shoulder) and left wing Tyler Johnson (held out of practice Tuesday) are question marks. The Devils are 8-4 in their last 12 games. The total has gone over in five of the Devils’ last six games.

Bettors have to weigh recency against sample sizes with the Nashville Predators (-165), who are deep into minus money against the Colorado Avalanche (+149), even though Colorado won in Game 3 of the series on Monday.

Nashville has lost three of the last four games when it was a road favorite and has given up the first goal in each game of this series. However, the Predators are 11-4 in their last 15 games as a road favorite. The Avalanche and center Nathan MacKinnon are 8-2 as a home underdog since Christmas. Each defeat was against Nashville, but only one of those 10 matchups was against a non-playoff team.

The total has gone over in eight of Nashville’s last 10 road games against fellow Central Division teams. The total has gone over in seven of Colorado’s last nine home games against Central teams.

And the San Jose Sharks (-169), the only home team which is favored on Wednesday, are trying to complete a sweep against the Anaheim Ducks (+152). The Sharks’ best defenseman, Brent Burns (undisclosed), has an injury situation to monitor, but they are 11-4 in their last 15 home games against Anaheim. The Ducks are 0-4 in their last four games as an underdog on the road.

The total has also gone over in seven of Anaheim’s last 10 playoff games when it was an underdog on the road.

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.