Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
The Pittsburgh Penguins survived a grueling seven-game second-round series with the Washington Capitals and get to host the Ottawa Senators as big favorites for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins blanked the Capitals 2-0 on the road in Game 7, and they are favored to repeat as champions.
Betting line: The Penguins opened as -214 favorites (wager $214 to win $100); the total is at 5.5 goals, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. Line updates and matchup report.
NHL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 3.5-2.1 Penguins. NHL picks on every game.
Why the Senators Can Pay on the NHL Lines
There is almost no pressure on the Senators heading into this series. They last made the Stanley Cup Final a decade ago, when they lost to the Anaheim Ducks. A rematch is possible if both teams advance past the conference finals as underdogs.
Ottawa is led by arguably the best player in the NHL right now in defenseman Erik Karlsson, who netted the game-winning goal in Game 6 on the road to oust the New York Rangers in the previous round. Despite playing with a foot injury, Karlsson’s ability to contain Sidney Crosby could be the difference in the series.
Why the Penguins Can Pay on the NHL Lines
Pittsburgh lost three of four to Washington and then posted a shutout on the road in the team’s biggest game of the season. That performance shows this team has the heart of a champion, especially goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who had given up nine goals in the previous two games combined. Fleury is the wild card here and capable of playing like he did in Game 7 or in Game 6, when he surrendered five goals on 26 shots at home.
Crosby’s health after suffering a concussion against the Capitals is a bit of a concern, but the Pens still have the better offense and home ice to lean on as well.
Smart Betting Pick
The Senators have won the past two meetings with Pittsburgh at home by a combined score of 6-2 after losing the previous four in the series. The past two games between the teams at PPG Paints Arena averaged 12 goals, with each easily going over the total.
While Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson was solid versus New York, his team also scored nine goals in the final two games of that series to eliminate the Rangers. Look for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final to be a high-scoring affair that goes over as well.
NHL Betting Trends
Pittsburgh is 14-6 SU in its past 20 games against Ottawa.
Ottawa is 8-3 SU in its past 11 games.
Ottawa is 4-2 SU in its past six games on the road.
All NHL lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.