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Capitals betting favorites in Stanley Cup rematch with Golden Knights

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The Washington Capitals take two strong long-term trends into a Stanley Cup final rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night.

The Capitals, led by captain Alex Ovechkin, are a -167 betting favorite on the NHL odds with the Golden Knights offering +135 as the underdog while the total is at 5.5 goals at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Counting the championship series four months ago, the Capitals are 15-5 in their last 20 home games against Western Conference teams. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Capitals are also 15-4 in their last 19 regular-season home games as a -160 to -180 moneyline favorite. Vegas is 5-3 as a -125 to -145 moneyline underdog on the road in its short history.

The OddsShark NHL Database also notes that the Golden Knights, who are visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday as part of a five-game road trip, are 6-4 in the front end of back-to-back games.

The main question with the Golden Knights, who are 1-2-0 so far this season, is whether they will regress toward the mean after making a run to the Stanley Cup final as a first-year expansion team last season. Through three games, the Golden Knights and their top two lines led by William Karlssson and Paul Stastny have just five goals and have struggled to convert chances directly in front of the net, which is where most goals are scored in the NHL.

The Golden Knights will call on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a 3.93 goals-against average and .841 save percentage in two games.

On top of the strong home trends, the Capitals, who are 1-0-1 this season, may have greater continuity than the typical Stanley Cup-winning team, as 18 of the 20 players who dressed for the closeout game against Vegas in June remain on the roster.

Ovechkin and center Evgeny Kuznetsov have a new linemate with Brett Connolly at right wing with Tom Wilson (suspension) sidelined, but the Capitals’ second and third units centered by Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller are relatively strong. That third unit, with Eller between Chandler Stephenson and Andre Burakovsky, could be a deciding factor. On the back end, Michal Kempny has cleared concussion protocol and can rejoin John Carlson on the first defense pairing.

The Capitals, who have also had a four-day break since their last game, will likely start goalie Braden Holtby, who has a 3.46 goals-against average and .894 save percentage in two starts.

Early-season NHL games can occasionally become track meets on ice. The total has gone OVER in nine of Vegas’ last 14 games in October and the total has also gone OVER in 13 of Washington’s last 20 games in October.

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.

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.