NHL Stanley Cup Final betting (May 30): Preds up for ultimate challenge

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Updated: May 29, 2017

A fascinating NHL Stanley Cup match-up kicks-off in Pittsburgh tonight as the Penguins aim to make it two NHL championships in a row as they host the upstart Nashville Predators, who make their Stanley Cup Final debut on the road. We’re expecting a cagey affair in Game 1, which should stay below the posted total of 5.5; playoff record: 14-8-20, -0.34 units; overall record: 250-29-204, +56.84 units

 

Stanley Cup Final, game 1: Nashville Predators @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Tuesday, May 30, 10am (AET)
Prices: Nashville $2.44, Pittsburgh $1.63

Confirmed bets: -5.5/total (one unit @ $1.74), Penguins to win series 4-2 (one unit @ $5.36)

TIW says: The Nashville Predators have been the story of the postseason in the NHL. They entered the playoffs as the lowest seed in the Western Conference. Nashville cruised past top seed Chicago in a four-game sweep in the opening round (which included a pair of Pekka Rinne shutouts in the first two victories). The Preds knocked out another division foe in the second round by eliminating the Blues in six games, picking up three victories on their home Bridgestone Arena ice. Nashville secured their first Western Conference (pictured below) title by beating Anaheim in six games. Peter Laviolette’s squad won the series opener on the road in each of the first three series. That’s important as the Predators play Game 1 on the road in Pittsburgh tonight.

 

An eighth seed has won the Stanley Cup just once since the league first adopted the current seeding system back in 1994 – four years before the Predators became the league’s 27th franchise. The Los Angeles Kings accomplished the feat in 2014, knocking off the New York Rangers. The 2006 Oilers also reached the finals as a no. 8 seed, but fell to Carolina in seven games. Despite injury concerns, Nashville are defined by their top four defensemen – Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm – who’ve combined for a staggering 39 points in 16 playoff games. Meanwhile Rinne is 12-4 with a 1.70 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage in the postseason.

Pittsburgh are chasing their second successive Cup and third in nine years for a city that has grown accustomed to hockey celebrations. They needed five games to eliminate Columbus in the quarterfinals, followed by an epic seven-game series win over Washington in the second round. The Pens knocked out the Capitals for the second season in a row, while winning Game 7 on the road, 2-0. Pittsburgh won another Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals at home, again for the second successive season, by edging Ottawa in double-overtime, 3-2. Pittsburgh are playing in their fourth Cup Final of the Sidney Crosby era since 2008, and have won twice in that span, including in seven games over Detroit in 2009.

 

In franchise history, the Penguins are 4-1 in the Cup Final with the only defeat at the hands of the Red Wings in 2008. Evgeni Malkin (24 points) and Crosby (20) are running 1-2 in the playoff scoring race and seemingly shine when the lights are brightest (each has won a Conn Smythe Trophy as Finals MVP). Matt Murray, who backstopped Pittsburgh to a championship a year ago following a late-season injury to Marc-Andre Fleury, reclaimed the starting job in the Ottawa series and went 3-1 with six goals allowed in his four starts. Forward Patric Hornqvist, acquired from Nashville in exchange for forward James Neal in June 2014, is a game-time decision after sitting out the final six contests against the Senators.

 

Most recent results: 1-1-0, +2.4 units

Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins WIN NT (three units @ $1.80) WIN (2-3)
Ottawa Senators @ Pittsburgh Penguins -5/total (one unit @ $2.05) PUSH (2-3)

 

 

• Selections are listed in three categories – 1) Suggested (likely bet but yet to be finalised); 2) Confirmed (locked in at the price listed); and 3) Leans (tips, but not recommended bets); all times quoted are Australian Eastern Time (AET); prices with thanks to Pinnacle (except where markets are not available), correct at time of publication. Bets void if listed goaltenders are changed. Results/comments on today’s games/races will follow in the next post.

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