Golden Knights Now Underdogs as Stanley Cup Moves to Game 4

vegas-golden-knights-underdogs-stanley-cupThe Vegas Golden Knights have been an underdog ever since the 2017-18 NHL season opened. But the expansion team has defied expectations all along, including their domination of Winnipeg in the Western Conference Final.

They now find themselves in the underdog role once again in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. Things started promisingly enough with a 6-4 victory in Game 1. But Vegas has now lost two straight contests and are on the road in Washington for Game 4.

“We call ourselves the Golden Misfits for a reason,” said winger Ryan Reaves. “We’ve proven everyone else wrong all season.”

The Golden Knights were actually favored over the Capitals before the Finals. After all, they had home ice advantage. But they’ll need to win Game 4 in order to take control again.

“We’re still underdogs,” said left wing David Perron. “They’re a great team over there. Now the pressure is on them to keep going. We’re going to find a way to answer.”

Golden Knights Must Overcome Tough Washington Defense

The first game went Vegas’ way, as they forced the Capitals into a fast-paced contest. But Washington has since slowed things down and tightened up the defense. The result has been 3-2 and 3-1 victories within the past two contests.

This leaves the Golden Knights forced to respond and figure out how they can turn the game into more of an offensive affair again.

“We get it out on our blue line and we try to make a cross-ice play and they’re picking it off,” Reaves explained. “Their transition game is good. We’re getting to their blue line and we’re trying get cute again instead of doing what works. With this team, that’s getting it in and then going to work.”

Washington realizes this, which is why they’ve made such an effort to slow Vegas, which averaged 3.31 goals per contest — tied for fourth in the league.

“Offensive teams have certain tendencies, certain routes that they take through the neutral zone, plays they like to make,” said Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen. “So if you can be on top of them and turn over some pucks, stifle them, make it hard for them to gain entry with possession, that frustrates skilled players.”

vegas-golden-knights-underdogs-stanley-cup-1Vegas only landed 22 shots on net in Game 3. Tomas Nosek is the only Golden Knight who got on the score board. And this is only because Washington goaltender Braden Holtby did a terrible job of clearing the puck.

“They defended well. We were getting clogged up a little bit,” said Vegas winger James Neal. “They sit back. We’ve got to get pucks to the net. We didn’t have enough shots. We didn’t have enough bodies going to the net. They out-battled us. We’re going to look at that and fix it.”

Vegas Must Overcome Adversity by Getting Back to Game Plan

“We’ve just got to get back to our game, getting pucks deep and getting in on the forecheck,” explained defenseman Derek Engelland. “It’s been our key all season long, the five-man forecheck and five-guy pressure all over the ice.”

The Golden Knights don’t necessary have to force a high-scoring game to win. After all, two of their playoff victories have been 1-0 defensive gems. But they certainly need to get some more shots on goal and prevent mistakes at the other end.

“Working hard to get down low, we just couldn’t hold onto it or make a big play, and the Capitals are going the other way,” said Vegas center Ryan Carpenter.

Washington coach Barry Trotz did a good job of switching things up after Game 1. And this has really played a big role in their latest successes.

“There are things that they do that have given us some difficulties, and we’ve adjusted,” Trotz said. “They’ll do the same.”

Can Vegas break through Washington’s revamped defense? The answer will go a long way towards determining if these underdogs can overcome one more challenge.

“We’ve been in situations like this before: adversity, have our backs against the wall a bit,” said defenseman Luca Sbisa. “The belief in our group is still here. Just got to stick together.”

Penguins vs Predators Game 3 Odds & Betting Advice

nashville-pittsburgh-game-3-oddsThe Pittsburgh Penguins came into the 2017 NHL Finals as favorites. It’s no wonder why either since they’re trying to become the first NHL team to win back-to-back titles since the Detroit Red Wings did it in 1997 and ’98.

The Penguins have done little to make people doubt them, winning the first two games by scores of 5-3 and 4-1.

Can Nashville answer?

All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban thinks so, guaranteeing a victory over the Pens in Game 3.

“There’s no question,” he said. “We’re going to win the next game, and then we’ll move forward.”

Will his prediction come true? Let’s discuss the prospects while looking at the betting line between Pittsburgh and Nashville.

Game 3 Odds between Penguins vs Predators

  • Money line at Pittsburgh +115, Nashville -135
  • Puck line: Pittsburgh 1.5 (-260), Nashville -1.5 (+220)
  • Totals: Over 5.5 (+115), Under 5.5 (-135)


  • Saturday, June 3rd at 8:00pm EST
  • Livestream on NBC Sports Live

Why the Predators will Win

pk-subban-game-3-finalsWednesday night didn’t go well for Nashville, plain and simple.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was yanked after surrendering 4 goals to Pittsburgh – on top of the 5 he gave up in the first game. He was relieved by rookie Juuse Saros, who gave up one goal (negated by offside call) in his Game 2 substitution.

Now, the big question is whether Coach Peter Laviolette will play Saros over Rinne, rather than risk another poor outing.

One one hand, Rinne has played well up to this point, especially when he shut down the high-powered Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. But then again, he has a career 1-5-2 mark against the Penguins.

Regardless of who starts, the defense also needs to play better. Team captain Mike Fisher noted this point after Game 2.

pekka-rinne-game-3-finals“It’s not his fault by any means,” said Fisher. “We know we can do a better job in front of him. It’s a team game, and everyone looks at shots and save percentage but forget about the quality and who we’re playing. And certain parts of the game where we got to help him out.”

In reality, Nashville hasn’t been as bad as their 0-2 deficit and minus-4 goal margin would suggest. They stopped the Pens for most of Game 1, then hung with Pittsburgh until the third period on Wednesday.

Game 2 is especially notable because the Penguins barely got a shot on net through the first two periods. The defense is playing well – they just need help in the goalie and offense departments to complete the game.

Why the Penguins will Win

While Pittsburgh hasn’t dominated from wire to wire, they did enough good things to win the first two contests.

pens-predators-game-3-oddsRookie forward Jake Guentzel continued his incredible playoff run, scoring twice in what turned out to be a 4-1 route. Guentzel is having an outstanding postseason with 12 goals – just shy of Dino Ciccarelli’s rookie record.

Scott Wilson and Evgeni Malkin also played a big role in breaking the Predators’ spirits, scoring goals just 15 seconds apart.

Goaltender Matt Murray was solid as well, keeping the Pens in the game until they opened things up in the third. He finished with 37 saves and out-dueled Rinne, who stopped 21 of 25 shots before being pulled.

Despite all of the good, Pittsburgh could play better. They were 0-for-5 on power plays through the first 40 minutes. Sidney Crosby and Malkin were unable to get any shots in the first two periods. And Malkin also lost 7 out of 8 face-offs.

These stats aren’t pretty, but the Penguins have enough talent to win regardless. And Malkin – despite his struggles – helped in the win by netting the fourth and final goal that sent Rinne to the bench.

Prediction for Game 3

Sooner or later, Nashville will get their sticks going. The only question is, can they withstand Pittsburgh’s barrage the entire game? Odds are that they won’t completely stop Pittsburgh. But it won’t be surprising if they do enough to win Game 3 at home, where they play better.

Score Prediction: Nashville wins 4-3

Sharks vs Penguins Betting Game 6

sharks-penguins-betting-game-6After a dominating 4-1 victory on the road in Game 4, the Pittsburgh Penguins looked ready to end the NHL Finals at home. But the San Jose Sharks showed signs of life by picking up a 4-2 victory in Game 5, narrowing their series deficit to 3-2.

Goaltender Martin Jones (44 saves) did an outstanding job of limiting Pittsburgh’s attack and helping his team send the Finals back to San Jose.

“This team hasn’t quit all year and we’re not going to start now,” said Jones. “There’s still a long way to go, it’s going to be an uphill battle, but we’re going to fight till the very end.”

Is there really a long way to go, and can the Sharks force a deciding seventh game by winning at home? Or will Pittsburgh win their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history?

Find out as we cover Game 6 between the Penguins and Sharks. Moneyline for Game 6 (June 12 at 8:00pm EST)
Pittsburgh (-105)
San Jose (-115) Spread for Game 6
San Jose +1.5 (-300)
Pittsburgh -1.5 (+250)

Why the Penguins will Win Game 6

The score makes it seem like San Jose claimed a comfortable victory. But there are a few key points worth mentioning here:

1. Joe Pavelski added an empty netter with less than two minutes.
2. Pittsburgh got off 46 shots.
3. San Jose only had 22 shots.

sharks-penguins-game-5While the Sharks made their shots count, the box score shows that Pittsburgh outplayed San Jose for the most part. If not for an amazing effort by Jones, the game might have gone into overtime, or even ended with the Penguins winning in regulation.

Long story short, Pittsburgh should have plenty of confidence moving into Game 6. Yes, they’re on the road and considered a slight underdog. But even with San Jose playing at home, this contest looks even.

Evgeni Malkin has heated up, scoring goals in two straight games. If they can get more from Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh has a solid chance of winning. All they really need to do is put forth the same effort that they had last game and they’ll find the net.

Why the Sharks will Win Game 6

History doesn’t favor the Sharks because, since 1939, when the Stanley Cup became a best-of-seven series, only one team (1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs) have come back from this deficit. But San Jose shouldn’t let this deter them because they’re two wins away from making a historical comeback.

sharks-penguins-bettingThe Sharks showed a much-more spirited effort last night, especially on defense, where they forced 10 takeaways and denied two out of three Penguin power plays. The power plays aspect is important here because San Jose has been the worst postseason team at stopping them, with 12 goals allowed.

Thanks to this renewed defensive effort, the Sharks are headed to the SAP Center, where they’re 8-3 in the postseason. Of course, the defense might not look so good if Jones hadn’t saved 44 shots. With San Jose needing to win yet another elimination game, Jones’ goaltending will be crucial on Sunday.

Another encouraging sign for the Sharks is that Joe Pavelski finally got on the board in this series. After scoring 13 goals throughout the first three rounds – including 4 goals in the last three games of the conference finals – Pavelski was scoreless against Pittsburgh.

But he got a late goal in Game 5 that might boost his confidence heading into the weekend. If Pavelski gets back to the streak he was on earlier in the postseason, then anything is possible for San Jose.

Prediction on Sharks vs Penguins

Despite losing last night, Pittsburgh has outhustled and outworked San Jose through most of this series. Game 6 looks close on paper, especially with the Sharks playing at home and having a great goalie. But with the moneyline being so close and the Penguins playing really well, we don’t see a reason to bet against them. Expect Pittsburgh to win a hard-fought contest and hoist the Stanley Cup in San Jose.

Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 3 – San Jose 2
Betting Advice: Bet on Pittsburgh with their -105 moneyline.

Sharks vs Penguins Betting Game 5

sharks-penguins-game-5The San Jose Sharks had hoped to even up their NHL Finals series with the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4. But the Penguins quickly shut the door on this notion, outscoring San Jose 2-0 in the first two periods before coasting to a comfortable 3-1 victory.

This final score also represents Pittsburgh’s 3-1 lead in the series, meaning they can finish off the Sharks at the Consol Energy Center this Thursday.

Will they do it? Or do the Sharks have enough fight left in them to steal a road win and send the series back to San Jose? Find out as we discuss Game 5 of the NHL Finals between the Penguins and Sharks. Moneyline for Game 5 (June 9 at 8:00pm EST)
San Jose (130)
Pittsburgh (-150) Spread for Game 5
San Jose +1.5 (-250)
Pittsburgh -1.5 (+210)

Why the Penguins will Win Game 5

For years, the headliners in Pittsburgh have been center Sidney Crosby and forward Evgeni Malkin, who’ve provided countless goals for this team. But these two haven’t had much of an impact so far, with Malkin getting his first two points last game and Crosby remaining scoreless in the series.

sharks-penguins-bettingInstead, this has been a balanced attach that’s anchored by the defense. Game 4 was a perfect example of this as Pittsburgh’s defense held San Jose to just 24 shots against rookie goalie Matt Murray. Overall, Sharks goaltender Martin Jones has seen 35 more shots than Murray this series.

Defenders Kris Letang and Ian Cole have not only played a crucial role in shutting down San Jose’s vaunted attack, but they’ve also supplied offense too. Cole got the first goal to put Pittsburgh ahead while Letang supplied an assist. The Pens also got a goal from Malkin in the second and Eric Fehr in the third to cap off a great road win.

Pittsburgh is favored big at most sportsbooks, and the majority of analysts expect them to hoist the Stanley Cup on Thursday. It seems like they have a great chance of doing so as long as they keep getting balanced contributions from all angles.

Why the Sharks will Win Game 5

Looking at the Penguins’ lead in this series coupled with their home ice advantage in Game 5, it seems like San Jose has no chance. But you merely need to look back at the scores to see that this isn’t quite the case.

The first three games were decided by one goal, with two of these contests even going into overtime. Game 4 was the one outlier, and it was crushing for San Jose given that they lost by two goals at home.

In order to ensure that this doesn’t happen again, the Sharks need to be more aggressive. Perhaps this won’t be a problem since they’re facing elimination now. But the important thing is that they get past Pittsburgh’s defenders and send more shots at Jones.

Much of this begins with Joe Pavelski, who came into the series with 22 points and a team-high 13 goals. He’s been largely absent from the stat sheets thus far, but maybe desperation will kick his performance into gear.

Assuming Pavelski shows up, the team should follow and give San Jose a chance at sending this series back to the SAP Center.

Prediction on Sharks vs Penguins

For years Crosby and Malkin charged Pittsburgh into the playoffs, only to watch their high-scoring squads wilt against more-aggressive, defensive-minded teams. This year the Penguins are the aggressors and the team playing tough defense. San Jose is also strong on both sides of the ice, as they showed in the first three nail-biters. In Game 4, though, they were thoroughly handled in a contest that they needed to give themselves a realistic chance. Pittsburgh has the momentum, they have the home ice, and they should have the Stanley Cup by Thursday.

Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 2 – San Jose 1
Betting Advice: Bet Pittsburgh on the moneyline, but hold off on the puck line. This is, after all, a desperate Sharks team that has kept three out of four games within one goal.

Sharks vs Penguins Finals Betting Preview

sharks-vs-penguins-bettingA few weeks into the 2015-16 NHL season, few would’ve expected the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins to be battling for the Stanley Cup. After all, San Jose started the season just 14-14-1 while Pittsburgh was 15-10-3 and learning from a new coach.

Both teams have been hot ever since, which has culminated in them meeting each other in the 2016 NHL Finals.

Neither team’s road here was easy, though, with the Penguins needing seven games to dispatch the Tampa Bay Lightening, and San Jose beating the St. Louis Blues in six contests. So chances are that we can expect another hard-fought series when these two teams face off.

Who will emerge with the Stanley Cup? And who should you bet on during these games? Let’s discuss these matters below. line for Game 1 (May 30 at 8:00pm EST)
San Jose (130)
Pittsburgh (-150)

Why the Penguins will Win the Series

This series could very well come down to one defining characteristic by Pittsburgh: speed. Management and first-year coach Mike Sullivan have built the Penguins into a speedy team that can get up the ice quicker than opponents can check them. The Sharks are also fast, but not to the degree of Pittsburgh.

sharks-penguins-bettingWhat’s bad for opponents is that this team can just keep throwing talent at you. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are just the beginning of a deep squad that can score at will. When coupled with the aforementioned team speed, this is a lethal combination. And while San Jose defensemen Justin Braun and Marc-Eduoard Vlasic have been excellent at shutting down opponents, they could have their hands full against Pittsburgh.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the Blues didn’t have a center to match the skills of Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton, making it easy for Braun and Vlasic to look fantastic. Pittsburgh has Crosby and Malkin, who both have the ability to outplay Thornton and Pavelski.

One more edge that the Penguins have is their third line, which seems far better than San Jose’s. If Pittsburgh can take advantage of this, unlike St. Louis, this could be the biggest deciding factor.

Why the Sharks will Win the Series

It all begins with the Sharks top line, which was dominant against a top-notch defensive team in St. Louis. Thornton, Pavelski and Thomas Hertl all came through against one of the toughest defenses in the league. Pavelski has especially played well in the playoffs, leading the postseason with 13 goals so far.

sharks-penguins-betting-1The offensive dominance of San Jose is easily apparent on the power play, as they’re converting 27% of their power plays so far. Thornton has led this devastating attack by delivering clean passes to either Pavelski or defenseman Brent Burns.

Another factor working in San Jose’s favor is that the Pittsburgh lost defenseman Trevor Daley for the remainder of the postseason. Daley broke his ankle in Game 4 against the Lightening, but the Penguins were still able to get by without their star blue-liner. However, they only had to survive three and a half games without Daley in the Tampa Bay series; can they do the same for a full series against San Jose?

The Sharks are hoping the answer is no, especially since they’ve averaged 3.5 goals against defensemen like Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Roman Josi, Shea Weber and Kevin Shattenkirk. Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang is as good as any of these players, but the Penguins don’t have anybody else who can play near Letang or Daley’s level.

Prediction on Sharks vs Penguins

sharks-vs-penguins-betting-2San Jose is a big, physical team that’s been able to win a lot of possession battles with previous opponents. They’ve also been really efficient on offense, as evidenced by averaging 3.5 goals per game. Plus, they should take advantage of Pittsburgh losing Daley for the series. But Pittsburgh might be the league’s fastest team, and they’ll use this edge to push past San Jose’s physical defense. Overall, they’re just a deeper team that should wear down the Sharks in a close seven-game series.

Series Prediction: Pittsburgh wins the series 4 -3
Betting Advice
: While we think the Penguins will win, San Jose is great at making adjustments for the next game. This will keep the series close and give you value on the Sharks when the line looks like it does for Game 1.

Sharks vs Predators Betting

After a fairly surprising season where they captured third in the Pacific Division, the San Jose Sharks moved into the NHL Playoffs’ second round after upsetting the LA Kings in five games. Now they face the Nashville Predators, who pulled off an even bigger upset by taking out the Anaheim Ducks in seven games.

The Predators and Sharks meet tomorrow night at 10:30pm for Game 1 of their series. San Jose has the definite rest advantage because they knocked LA out on April 22. Meanwhile, Nashville’s thrilling Game 7 against Anaheim happened just two nights ago.

Will this quick turnaround hurt the Predators’ chances of winning on Saturday? Or will the Sharks be rusty and struggle against a battle-tested Nashville squad? Find out as we discuss both teams’ chances of winning as well as the betting lines. line for Game 1 (Apr 30 at 10:30pm EST)
Nashville (250)
Draw (250)
San Jose (-105)

Nashville +1.5 (-235)
San Jose -1.5 (-190)

Why the Sharks will win

San Jose failed to even make the postseason last season, and they finished an unassuming third place behind LA and Anaheim in the Pacific this year. So there wasn’t much buzz about San Jose going into the postseason. But then the Sharks easily handled the Kings and walked into contender status.

sharks-vs-predators-betting-2Brent Burns (8 pts) and Joe Pavelski (5 goals) were too much for LA and could prove to be Nashville’s undoing as well. This is especially the case if the Predators come out slow after a brutal series with Anaheim.

This team is more than just about Pavelski and Burns, though, since Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau played a big role in the dominating performance against LA.

Then there’s Joel Ward, a versatile forward who can pass, shoot and stay in front of the opposing net. Ward’s multiple contributions will certainly keep Nashville defenders off balance.

Why Nashville will win

It felt like celebration time for the wild card Predators after beating the cream of the Pacific crop in the Ducks.

sharks-vs-predators-betting-1“We need to realize we’re moving on and we still have work after this,” said Nashville defenseman Shea Weber. “They’ll definitely be more rested, but hopefully they’ll be more rusty, too.”

The fact that the Predators just played seven games could help them keep an edge as they face a Sharks team that will be coming off a week of rest. They’ll also have the confidence of knowing that they won the season series against San Jose 2-0-1.

Weber and Roman Josi form a tough backline that’s capable of slowing down the talented Sharks forwards. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Pekka Rhine is in the goal for Nashville.

Prediction for Sharks vs Predators Series

The way that the Sharks played in the last month of the regular season, combined with their performance against LA, has some wondering if they’re playing the best hockey in the league right now. Nashville certainly has the talent to contend and make this a series. However, they have to be beat after not only going the full seven games against Anaheim, but also flying back and forth between Tennessee and California. We don’t think there’s much doubt that San Jose will win, the only question is how quickly they’ll end the series.

Series Prediction: Sharks win series 4-2
Betting Advice:
San Jose is favored pretty heavily on the lines right now. So you might find some value in Nashville for certain games, especially if they can prove that they’ve still got something left in the tank.