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Stanley Cup Odds & Picks: Preds Heavy Favorites, Pens 8-1

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Let’s have a little fun. While New Jersey and other states push towards legalized sports betting and NBA Adam Silver works behind the scenes for legalized gambling through various websites like Draft Kings, most of us still watch the Stanley Cup odds like we watch the weather; skeptically with interest and amusement.

According to Bodog Online Casino, the Pittsburgh Penguins are an 8-1 shot to win the Stanley Cup. The two-time defending Cup winners have been an 8-1 bet for most of the season, though they fell to 18-1 during their December skid.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are 4-1 favorites and have dominated betting action for most of the season, but the Nashville Predators are currently taking heavy money. The Music City folks whose team president is an unabashed personal fan of this writer, are presently less than 4-1 to win it all.

At +375, there isn’t much meat on the bone. Or BBQ brisket in the pan to bet on the Predators.

Let the big money chase favorites.

At +800 or +850, the Penguins are not a great bet either. Vegas usually finds they exact break-even point. If the Penguins slip lower than +850, buy. If they rise, leave it alone.

Stanley Cup Odds Western Conference

There are a couple of likable bets in the Western Conference. Really likable.

The Winnipeg Jets will have every opportunity to prevent Nashville from repeating as Western Conference champs. Reporters covering that series may need earplugs as Winnipeg is legitimately the most raucous barn in the league, during the regular season. Imagine that place for a significant playoff series.

At 11-1, the Jets are a good bet. The Jets have center depth, are the toughest team in the playoffs and can score. Their defense is banged up, but it hasn’t slowed them down. Pressure goaltending could be an issue for Winnipeg, just as it is for Nashville.

The Los Angeles Kings are currently rolling at +2500, which means 25-1. The Kings’ goal differential, shot suppression, experience, goaltending, physicality and lineup balance mean they will have a chance in every playoff series.

The Kings waxed the Vegas Golden Knights twice this season. They are in third place in the Pacific, and their road to the Cup goes through San Jose and Vegas. At 25-1, the risk-reward is excellent.

Injured? You need a lawyer. Call Joshua R. Lamm.

San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks are 28-1. Evander Kane has added much-needed production and “thump” to the San Jose offense. If they get Joe Thornton back and ready for the playoffs, they too could be worth a flyer.

Keep an eye on Anaheim, too. They have been in playoff mode for a few weeks.

No, I wouldn’t touch Nashville at +375. Pekka Rinne’s 2017 Stanley Cup performance is enough to scare me off of that one. The 35-year-old Rinne has started 54 games and counting.

Nor would Vegas, at 6-1, be a good bet. Marc-Andre Fleury could carry them to a Stanley Cup and Penguins fans may find it fun, but Vegas is not one of the three best teams in the league, despite their record.

Eastern Conference

Keep in mind before commenting or flame throwing on Twitter, these are gambling odds, not predictions to win the Stanley Cup. The two are very different.

At +900, the Boston Bruins are the best bet going. Their odds to avoid touching the Wales Trophy are 50 percent. As Tampa Bay’s defense stumbles, just like the Penguins, the Bruins are gaining steam. There is a gathering storm in Boston which is reminiscent of Pittsburgh, 2016.

A 9-1 payoff isn’t great but its good enough.

There is only one long shot in the Eastern Conference to consider: The Columbus Blue Jackets. Their swagger is back. Their hunger and aggressiveness have returned. Ian Cole has sparked that team.

At 33-1, the Blue Jackets are worth a look. They have won 10 in a row and last night did so without Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson. Both were healthy scratches.

Last season, the combination of Marc-Andre Fleury’s scene-stealing performance and Sergei Bobrovsky’s disappearing act made the Jackets cannon fodder in Round 1 against the Penguins. The key to 2018 will be Bobrovsky. If he stops pucks, the Blue Jackets are going to be a tough out. And, the risk-reward is fantastic.

The Metro Division teams will only have to face one of either the Bruins or Lightning which makes the Metro road much more manageable. The Lightning will be heavily damaged if escape the Bruins, much like the Penguins escaping the Washington Capitals last season.

If you’re really a long-shot better, the Florida Panthers are 60-1. They would have to climb through Tampa, then the Bruins or maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs, then likely the Penguins. Actually, maybe they should be 100-1.

Of course, all of the above is for entertainment purposes, only.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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