Golden Knights betting favorites against Capitals in Stanley Cup Final

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Oddsmakers are leaning toward the Vegas Golden Knights and star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury making history, even though the track record for first-time Stanley Cup finalists is not overly rosy.

The Golden Knights, who have made the final as an expansion team, are -135 favorites with the Washington Capitals and superstar Alex Ovechkin coming back at +115 on the latest odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Vegas has home-ice advantage for the best-of-seven series, which begins with Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena on Monday. For what it might be worth, the last three first-time finalists to represent the Western Conference – 2017 Nashville Predators, 2016 San Jose Sharks and 2003 Anaheim Mighty Ducks – each lost.

Washington will not have home-ice advantage, but they are 8-2 on the road in the playoffs. A four-day layoff might also help negate any energy advantage Vegas has from playing four fewer games during the first three rounds.

Along with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Capitals have re-integrated center Nicklas Backstrom into their lineup to diversify their offense. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has a 2.04 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in the playoffs after posting shutouts in each of the final two games of Washington’s series win against Tampa Bay.

The main question with the Golden Knights is whether Fleury, the favorite on the Conn Smythe Trophy odds, and their top-six forwards, including the William Karlsson-Jonathan Marchessault-Reilly Smith top line, can sustain their efficiency from the first three rounds. Picking against them would mean picking against Fleury and the 1.68 goals-against average and .947 save percentage he has in the playoffs.

The Golden Knights top forwards also have a 12.7 percent shooting percentage in the playoffs, and anything well above 10% is usually unsustainable. That said, coach Gerard Gallant has developed a fast, tenacious team. That assertiveness comes out the most on the road, where the total has gone under in five of the Golden Knights’ eight away games in the playoffs, with two pushes.

Vegas is 6-1 at home in the playoffs, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, although puck-line bettors have probably noticed four wins were by a single goal.

The total has gone over in nine of the Capitals’ last 15 road games against Western teams. The total has gone over in nine of the Golden Knights’ last 16 home games against Eastern 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.

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.

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