Cup champion Penguins ready to host Senators in conference final
By Angelo Montilla
Here are a few betting options to consider for the opening game, with odds courtesy of Bovada.
The defending Stanley Cup champions are four wins away from returning to the NHL championship. But first they’ll have to get through the Ottawa Senators when the two meet in the Eastern Conference Final, which gets underway on Saturday night at PPG Paints Arena.
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins — coming off a huge Game 7 victory over the Washington Capitals — enter this series as convincing -220 favorites on home ice where the club has played its best hockey during the playoffs. The Senators can match Pittsburgh speed so expect some end-to-end action — something a +180 underdog Ottawa won’t want to get involved in too much against the high-scoring Penguins.
If there’s a club that can frustrate Penguin scorers, it’s the Sens, who are defensively sound and can transition out of their zone to create offense. However, the Penguins boast an array of weapons from Sidney Crosby to Evgeni Malkin to Phil Kessel, the Senators’ defense will have to work overtime to slow Pittsburgh’s superstars.
Speaking of overtime, what are the chances Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final needs extra periods to decide a winner? Bovada is offering an enticing +335 line the opening contest will go to overtime — a strong possibility considering both clubs will feel each other out in the early stages of the series.
The projected total goals for Saturday’s contest has been set at 5.5 and while the Pens lead the league in playoff goals for per game, expect a tight-checking matchup in the opener.
When breaking down the head-to-head history over the last 10 meetings between these clubs, the Penguins have dominated by posting a 6-1-3 record during that span. Game 1 will be closer than many expect, with the Pens making a clear statement that they are still the team to beat in the post-season.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins (-220) and the under (5.5)