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Lightning, Penguins trending to the OVER on Wednesday Night Hockey

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Scoring is up in the NHL this season, but the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins have been combining for plenty of offense for years.

The Lightning, led by Nikita Kucherov, are a slim -115 away favorite against the -105 underdog Penguins with a 6.5-goal total on the NHL odds for Wednesday night at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The OddsShark NHL Database shows that not only has the total gone OVER in 19 of the last 20 games in this matchup, but the last 12 matchups have all had at least seven goals. Tampa Bay, thanks to a bye week and the NHL all-star break, is playing for the first time in 11 days and is 7-2 in its last nine away games. The Penguins are 1-4 at home this season against Atlantic Division teams that are currently in a playoff position.

Tampa Bay is 37-10-2 this season, including a 17-5-2 away record. The NHL schedule-maker has affording the Lightning, with their dynamic forward group that includes leading scorer Kucherov and centers Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point, the luxury of not having to jump right back into action upon reconvening following the all-star weekend.

On paper, a well-rested team facing an opponent that has allowed 13 goals over its last two games seems like an excellent matchup for the Lightning, who also boast the NHL’s No. 1 power play (29.5 per cent) and have the fifth-ranked penalty kill (83.6 per cent).

Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who should get the start, is 5-3-0 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in eight games in January.

One factor in favor of the Penguins, whose 26-17-6 record includes being 13-8-4 at the PPG Paints Arena, is the embarrassment factor. Any team whose leadership includes captain Sidney Crosby, fellow center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang can be expected to give a peak effort the next time out after a loss such as Monday’s 6-3 setback against the New Jersey Devils.

Both Pittsburgh’s power play (24.8 per cent) and penalty kill (83.1) rank sixth in the NHL, making them the only team other than the Lightning with both special teams units ranked in the top 10, but they were 0-for-5 with the extra skater against New Jersey.

Matt Murray gave up all six goals against New Jersey, but still has a 5-2-0 record with a 2.71 goals-against average and .913 save percentage so far this month. It can be reasonably expected that the Penguins would have Murray get back in net right away after a rough night.

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Lightning’s last 10 away games. The total has also gone OVER in seven of the Penguins’ last 11 home games.

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.

Daytona 500 Odds: Betting Preview for Great American Race

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Winning the Great American Race once might generate confidence with bettors, but recent history shows that it means little once the race begins.

Joey Logano, one of the eight past champions in the field, is the +800 co-favorite on the Daytona 500 odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Brad Keselowski (+800) and Kevin Harvick (+850) join Logano at the top of the board.

The favorites for the NASCAR Cup season opener at Daytona International Speedway also include Kyle Busch (+1200), who won in 2017, as well as Ryan Blaney (+1100), Clint Bowyer (+1100), Chase Elliott (+1100) and Denny Hamlin (+1100).

A chalk pick with Logano, who will start fourth, is justifiable, but the wide-open nature of motorsports means the value is farther down on the board and higher in the grid. Ten of the last 13 champions, including the last four, have been first-time winners. Five of the last six winners have started eighth or higher on the grid.

Picking Keselowski would mean being comfortable with a racer who has failed to finish in the last four runnings at Daytona International Speedway. Elliott is a big name bettors probably should fade, based on the fact he has also fared poorly on this track. Likewise, Harvick has failed to finish in four of his last five runnings on the track, while Kyle Busch has finished outside of the top five in each of the last two years.

Aric Almirola (+1100), who had the lead in the 2018 race until he crashed with a mile to go, still holds of a lot of value as bettors try to gauge whether he has put that misfortune in this showcase event behind him or it becomes some sort of mental millstone. Jimmie Johnson (+1800), who won the rain-shortened Advance Auto Parts Clash last Sunday, is one former champion who might worth taking a flier on.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+1500) has fared well in his recent restrictor-plate races and would fit the first-time winner trend. A darkhorse whose NASCAR odds for Sunday have dropped without killing his value, though, is Daniel Suarez (+2200), who ran well during the aforementioned Clash before getting stuck behind a wreck and ultimately finishing 10th.

It is tough enough to win Daytona twice in a lifetime, let alone twice in a row, so defending champion Austin Dillon (+3000) is well down the board at online sports betting sites. No driver has won the race twice in a row since Sterling Marlin in 1994 and 1995.

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.

Smith Jr., Curry, Team LeBron favorites on All-Star weekend NBA odds

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Overdoing it in the Slam Dunk Contest last year has given Dennis Smith Jr.’s odds a little more vertical, so to speak, entering NBA All-Star weekend.

Smith is the +200 favorite on the Slam Dunk Contest odds for Saturday in Charlotte at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The New York Knicks point guard was the favorite in the 2018 edition but a miss in the first round brought him back to earth, helping the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell – who’s not competing this time around – win the title.

The aesthetics of the dunk contest tend to favor players around the size of the six-foot-three Smith, who may have learned some lessons about the procedure of the event.

Miles Bridges (+225) of the host Charlotte Hornets is an explosive leaper who has the hometown advantage. The Atlanta Hawks’ John Collins (+225), as the tallest player competing, might be at a judging disadvantage.

The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (+175) is the favorite on the Three-Point Contest odds, followed by defending champion Devin Booker (+450), Buddy Hield (+450), Seth Curry (+550), Kemba Walker (+900), Joe Harris (+900) and Damian Lillard (+900).

The fact that 10 players have won in the last 10 years highlights the randomness of the event. Beyond Stephen Curry, Booker offers excellent value in an event that is overdue for someone to win back-to-back, and Walker will be competing on his home floor, although no host-team player has won in the event’s 32-year history.

De’Aaron Fox (+250) has top odds in the Skills Challenge at betting sites, followed by Luka Doncic (+325), Trae Young (+375), Mike Conley (+550), Nikola Jokic (+600), Jayson Tatum (+600) and Kyle Kuzma (+700). International players comprise four of the last nine winners and Doncic might offer more upside than the favored Fox. The last three winners of this timed event have all been six-six or taller, so a skilled big such as the six-nine Kuzma poses a darkhorse threat.

As for the game on Sunday, Team LeBron is a 6-point betting favorite against Team Giannis. The higher value resides in the game MVP props, where superlative scorer Kevin Durant (+600) is co-favorite to win MVP with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Team LeBron is loaded with three-point threats such as Durant, James himself (+650), James Harden (+1000), Klay Thompson (+4000), Damian Lillard (+4000) and Bradley Beal (+4000). Harden’s historic streak of 30-point games makes him an intriguing pick.

On the Team Giannis side, the Greek Freak himself would seem to pose the best chance; the game MVP always comes from the winning side and he would stand to play a major role in the betting-line underdog winning on these NBA odds.

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.