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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.

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.

Betting trends on the Capitals’ side as they face Bruins on Wednesday

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The Washington Capitals failing to defeat the Boston Bruins in their matchup on Wednesday night would involve bucking two recent betting trends in inter-divisional games.

The Capitals are 9-1 in their last 10 home games against teams from the Atlantic Division and, interestingly enough, the OddsShark NHL Database notes the Bruins are 1-9 in their last 10 road games against teams residing in the Metropolitan Division.

Each team is playing for the second night in a row, with the Bruins coming off a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning as -120 road favorites on the NHL betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com on Tuesday while the Capitals lost against the New York Islanders as -135 road favorites. Each team had to travel after its game.

Boston, which is 26-21-6 on the season, has struggled on the road, with just seven wins in  their last 19 games away from home. The Bruins, who are bolstered up front by all-star forward Brad Marchand, have scored at least four goals in each of their last three games. Zdeno Chara and all-star goalie Tuukka Rask furnish Boston with a solid defense.

Washington is 33-11-6 on the season, including a 7-3 mark over its last 10 games. Potent forwards Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov have long been the headliners in the nation’s capital, but the reason the Capitals have the best record in the NHL is that they have allowed the fewest goals in the league (105) thanks in large part to goalie Braden Holtby.

Holtby has typically been able to keep the Bruins to two or fewer goals, which is part of why the Capitals are 6-1 at home against Boston over the last five seasons.

The Capitals will likely have to be productive at even strength, since the Bruins penalty kill is ranked second in the league.

If Rask gets the nod for the Bruins on Wednesday he will be making the second of back-to-back starts. Holtby will be more rested, since backup goalie Philipp Grubauer handled the game against the Islanders on Tuesday night.

The total has gone over in seven of the Bruins’ last 10 road games. The total has gone over in seven of the Bruins’ last 10 road games against Metropolitan Division teams, with two pushes. The total has gone over in seven of the Capitals’ last 10 games, with one push.