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

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USA TODAY Sports

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.

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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.

MORE CAPITALS: RED-HOT OVECHKIN TABBED AS METRO CAPTAIN FOR ALL-STAR GAME

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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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

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The Flyers' new mascot, Gritty, is here to haunt your dreams

On Monday morning, just a week shy of the official start to the 2018-19 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers triumphantly announced their new mascot and, full disclosure, it’s terrifying.

Meet Gritty.

The furry orange abomination is a cross between fabled Canadiens' (and Expos) mascot Youppi, The Muppet Show’s Animal, and something that would probably murder you in your sleep.

He’s named Gritty, because, according to the Flyers’ official webpage, is supposed to reflect the strength, tenacity, and raw passion of the team and their fanbase.

His portly figure and bouncy, gyrating hips are not the problem. In fact, watching him move is kind of delightful.

No, the real problem here is his eyes. Those oddly realistic googly eyes,  following his every movement and hip circle ike a car accident you just can’t look away from. His mouth, always agape, is the icing on the nightmare fuel cake..

Hockey fans online went into a tizzy after the reveal. Monday's primary activity was to lay into the Flyers' new mascot with heavy heat.

Despite their divisional rivalry, the Caps’ own loveable eagle Slapshot welcomed Gritty to the family in a very diplomatic manner. 

Other teams in the Metropolitan division, namely the Pittsburgh Penguins however, were not so kind.

According to his official bio, “recent construction at the Wells Fargo Center disturbed [Gritty’s] secret hideout forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time.” We think this is supposed to be charming and mysterious in the same way that everyone describes Bigfoot, but it mostly works at convincing us to head for the hills. 

You can also book him for event appearances. We’d recommend him as a supportive presence at divorce hearings, or as the featured guest at your horrible cousin’s wedding.

It’s worth noting that other Metropolitan teams are not without mascot sins. In 2011, the Columbus Blue Jackets had a NSFW cannon named Boomer, who barely survived half a season before being retired. 

Thankfully, Caps fans only have to handle Slapshot's themed costumes for special events this season.

Philly, we’re happy for you, but you can keep Gritty within city limits.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

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NBC Sports Washington

It's not crazy to think Alex Ovechkin could lead the NHL in goals again

You may think the odds are against Alex Ovechkin winning yet another Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals. Ovechkin turned 33 on Sept. 17 and since the trophy was first introduced in the 1998-99 season, only one player over the age of 30 has ever won it.

That player was Ovechkin. He’s done it twice.

Let’s take a minute to appreciate just how dominant a scorer Alex Ovechkin has been through his career. Only three times has a player reached the 50-goal plateau in the past five seasons. Those players are Ovechkin (50 goals in 2015-16), Ovechkin (53 goals in 2014-15) and Ovechkin (51 goals in 2013-14).

Normally, it would be crazy to think a player over 30 could lead the league in goals. It would be crazy to think a player over 30 could score 50.

Ovechkin -- who has led the league in goals in five of the past six seasons -- is anything but normal.

After winning his seventh Rocket Richard Trophy last season and showing no signs of fatigue or decline in a dominant Stanley Cup championship run that won him a Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, it’s not crazy to think he can do it again at age 33.

Maybe his 50 goal days are behind him. But even if he doesn’t hit that mark, he should still be in contention considering no one else in the league has scored 50 goals since the 2010-11 season when Corey Perry netted 50. Forty-nine goals was all it took last season for Ovechkin to lead the league.

With a balanced line of Evgeny Kuznetsov in the middle and Tom Wilson on the wing and a still dominant power play that will continue to be coached by Todd Reirden and Blaine Forsythe, Ovechkin will be able to light the lamp and will absolutely be in contention to lead the league in goals yet again.

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