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Despite trending in different directions, Caps and Penguins given same Stanley Cup odds


Despite trending in different directions, Caps and Penguins given same Stanley Cup odds

Sitting in first place in the Metropolitan Division at the start of the new year, the Capitals saw their Stanley Cup odds improve, but not as much as you may think.

After going 10-2-2 in December, the sports betting site Bovada gives Washington 18/1 odds to win the Cup, improved from the 25/1 odds they were given at the start of December. Those are significantly better odds and it seems about right…until you see the other teams listed at 18/1.

Also given 18/1 odds are the New Jersey Devils, the Columbus Blue Jackets (what?) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (WHAT!?!).

The Devils are among one of the bigger surprises of the NHL season. They sit just two points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division with two games in hand over the Caps. The fact that the oddsmakers put them on equal footing as Washington is understandable. It is a bit stranger to figure out how they came to 18/1 for Columbus and Pittsburgh.


Columbus struggled in December, particularly at the end of the month when they lost four of five games. For the month, they went 6-7-2. The Penguins went 6-8-0 in December and are not even in a wild card spot.

Has Pittsburgh earned the benefit of the doubt as the two-time defending champs? Absolutely. But it sure seems like the postseason history of both teams is playing a bit more into those odds than you would expect.

Here are the full Stanley Cup odds:

Tampa Bay 6/1
Vegas Golden Knights 15/2
Toronto Maple Leafs 12/1
Nashville Predators 14/1
St. Louis Blues 14/1
Winnipeg Jets 14/1
Los Angeles Kings 16/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 16/1
New Jersey Devils 18/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 18/1
Washington Capitals 18/1
Boston Bruins 20/1
Chicago Blackhawks 22/1
San Jose Sharks 22/1
Anaheim Ducks 25/1
Dallas Stars 25/1
New York Rangers 25/1
Edmonton Oilers 28/1
Minnesota Wild 28/1
Calgary Flames 33/1
New York Islanders 33/1
Carolina Hurricanes 40/1
Philadelphia Flyers 40/1
Florida Panthers 66/1
Montreal Canadiens 66/1
Vancouver Canucks 75/1
Colorado Avalanche 100/1
Ottawa Senators 100/1
Detroit Red Wings 150/1

The Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres are off the board.

The conference odds are also a bit confusing.

Washington is given 9/1 odds to win the conference, the same as Pittsburgh. Above them is Columbus who sits at 7/1.

Someone has a lot of faith in a Blue Jackets team that has really struggled of late. While postseason history could explain the oddsmaker's faith in Pittsburgh, it is harder to think of an explanation for why they hold Columbus in such high regard after a rough December.


Here are the full conference odds:

Tampa Bay Lightning 11/4
Toronto Maple Leafs 6/1
Columbus Blue Jackets 7/1
New Jersey Devils 9/1
Pittsburgh Penguins 9/1
Washington Capitals 9/1
Boston Bruins 10/1
New York Rangers 12/1
New York Islanders 18/1
Philadelphia Flyers 18/1
Carolina Hurricanes 22/1
Montreal Canadiens 28/1
Florida Panthers 33/1
Ottawa Senators 50/1
Detroit Red Wings 66/1

Buffalo is again off the board.

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Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

Will the Caps be able to take advantage of home ice in Game 5?

There's a saying in sports that goes, "A series doesn't start until a team loses at home." For the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets, their series won't start until someone wins at home.

Four games into the series, the road team has won every game. Columbus took Game 1 and Game 2 from Capital One Arena and the Caps answered back by winning Game 3 and Game 4 in Ohio.

"We came [to Columbus] to try to get the first one," Barry Trotz said after Thursday's win. "Did that. We came here to get the second one. Did that. All we've done is just got on even terms."

Now the series is a best of three with two of those final three games in Washington, but how much of an advantage does that really give the Caps?

"We've got to make sure that we're ready to go," Trotz said. "I think we have been since we got here. We've just got to do it at home."

The various playoff struggles the Caps have suffered in the Alex Ovechkin era have been well-documented to this point. One particularly maddening issue is the team's struggles to win at home. Since 2008, the first year the Ovechkin-led Caps made the playoffs, the team is just 28-25 in home playoff games. Since 2015, Trotz's first season as head coach, the Caps are 12-10 in Washington.

Part of that is just the nature of hockey. Upsets are prevalent in the playoffs in the NHL and home-ice advantage does not mean as much as it does in other sports. But it should mean more than 28-25.

Besides having the crowd on your side, home ice also provides matchup advantages. The home team gets the second line change at home, meaning during a stoppage in play the home coach gets the opportunity to see who the opponent puts on the ice before making his own change. For the Caps, this means getting Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against Artemi Panarin.

Trotz has matched his top shutdown pair against Columbus' top line all series long. According to Natural Stat Trick, when Niskanen was on the ice in Game 4 he held Panarin's Corsi For percentage to 36.36. When Niskanen was not on the ice, Panarin's percentage shot up to 71.43. 

Theoretically, it should be much easier for Trotz to get those favorable matchups at home. Now all the Caps have to do is take advantage.

"Our home record hasn't been really great in the last little stretch at the end of the season here and obviously the first two games of the playoffs," Trotz said. "We owe it to our fans, we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of that."


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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.