Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Penguins heavy favorites against Senators for Thursday’s Game 7 matchup

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Betting against Sidney Crosby in a do-or-done game takes some guts, since the Pittsburgh Penguins’ history shows they find a way when their backs are against the wall.

With a spot in the Stanley Cup final at stake, the Penguins are a -200 moneyline favorite against the +170 underdog Ottawa Senators with a five-goal total for Thursday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The winner moves on to the Stanley Cup final against the Nashville Predators.

This season, Pittsburgh is 14-1 in 15 games when it was a favorite of -200 to -500 on the moneyline, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. They are also 14-3 in their last 17 home games against Ottawa, but one big reason this series has required Game 7 is that the Penguins are 1-7 on the puckline in their last eight games against the Senators.

It’s no secret that Ottawa, which is 27-21-2 on the road this season and 35-28-5 as the underdog, will rely on goalie Craig Anderson (45 saves in Game 6) and their execution of a 1-3-1 neutral zone trap. The Senators have a strong defense with Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci, who have helped Ottawa stay in most games..

Ottawa will try to be opportunistic and hope that the likes of RW Bobby Ryan or C Kyle Turris can produce timely goals. Ottawa has been a moneyline underdog of +150 or more nine times since the NHL all-star break. They are 4-5 in those matchups.

Pittsburgh is 37-7-6 at home this season, as well as 51-17-11 as a favorite. They are 2-0 in Game 7s under head coach Mike Sullivan (both on the road), and have outplayed Ottawa over each of the last three games.

The presence and talent of Crosby and C Evgeni Malkin might be the hole cards that give the Penguins the ability to offset several key injuries. Defenseman Justin Schultz (upper body), defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (upper body), RW Patrik Hornqvist (upper body) and RW Tom Kuhnhackl (lower body) could all miss the game on Thursday.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray has allowed only three even-strength goals in three games since taking over as the starter. The total has gone under in six of Ottawa’s last nine road games against Pittsburgh.

If Pittsburgh wins, it will be the first time the franchise has won Game 7 of a series at home after losing Game 6 on the road. Ottawa is also out to buck a historical trend as it is 0-5 all-time in Game 7s, home and away. The last was in 2012.

Capitals, Rangers betting favorites for Stanley Cup Playoff matchups on Saturday

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Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals have not lost back-to-back home games all season, and oddsmakers believe they won’t start doing so on Saturday.

The Capitals are the -150 betting favorite against the +120 underdog Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5.5-goal total heading into their Game 2 matchup on Saturday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Washington, which doubled the Penguins in shot attempts in Game 1 of the series yet lost, is 7-3 in its last 10 home playoff games when it was a favorite of -135 to -500 on the moneyline. In other words, they do tend to deliver when installed as a big home-ice favorite.

The Penguins, who are 7-3 in their last 10 games against the Metropolitan Division rival Capitals according to the OddsShark NHL Database, could have LW Carl Hagelin (lower body) in the lineup for the first time in seven weeks.

While Sidney Crosby is Sidney Crosby, the Penguins need more from center Evgeni Malkin and his line, which was shut out in Game 1.

The Capitals, even though they were the less rested team, outplayed Pittsburgh in Game 1. Along with Ovechkin and his longtime center Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov helms a strong second line.

The total has gone over in five of Pittsburgh’s last seven games on the road. The total has gone under in eight of Washington’s last 11 games.

The New York Rangers are a -120 favorite against the -110 underdog Ottawa Senators with a 5-goal total in Saturday’s playoff matinee. Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and the Rangers’ offense-by-committee attack has been vexed by Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, going 0-3 against him this season. If nothing else, the Rangers are due for a breakout against Anderson.

The Rangers were touted as having a deeper group of forwards, but Ottawa was able to go line-for-line with New York during the series opener. Ottawa, which is an excellent 10-3 at home this season against Metropolitan Division teams, will also have the biggest X-factor on the ice in the form of tireless defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Between Anderson in one net and Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes for the Rangers, goals could be at a premium. The total has gone under in four of the Rangers’ last five road games in Ottawa. Each team has seen the total go under in eight of its past 10 games.