Pennsylvania’s two NHL teams have a much rosier outlook than when the season started.
The Pittsburgh Penguins overcame numerous injuries to key players to push themselves briefly to the top of the Metropolitan Division before suffering a recent slide.
They are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender again despite a three-game losing streak, with Pennsylvania’s online sportsbooks giving them odds of 10/1 to take the Cup for the third time in five years. They opened the season no better than 20/1.
The Philadelphia Flyers, meanwhile, have bounced back from missing last year’s playoffs to put themselves right on the heels of the Pens and Washington Capitals in the Metro.
The Flyers are riding a four-game winning streak after Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. Most online sites now list them as 20/1 to win the Stanley Cup (but FanDuel offers 23/1, making it the better site to wager on them) after their odds were as long as 40/1 before the season started.
The Metro Division is one tight race
The Penguins have 80 points after 61 games, vs. the Capitals with 84 points and the Flyers with 79, both after 63 games. The Pens blew a chance to take the edge on the Caps by suffering a 5-3 loss in an exciting, nationally televised contest Sunday.
Still, that close Metro Division competition has created some interesting contrast in the odds posted for which team will come out on top.
FOX Bet has the Pens at -120, the Caps at +100, and the Flyers at +900 to win the division
DraftKings and other sites using odds provided by Kambi make Washington the favorite at -125. They have Pittsburgh at +140 and Philadelphia +800.
The Pens head out west with some new depth
The Penguins are about to play three games in four days on a West Coast swing that might not be as arduous for them as such cross-country trips can often be.
That’s because they are facing the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and San Jose Sharks, the three teams at the bottom of the Pacific Division that are well out of the playoff picture with nearly a fourth of the season remaining.
For Wednesday night’s game vs. the Kings, Pittsburgh is anywhere from +120 to +135 on the -1.5 puck line and -200 to -210 on the moneyline. One might presume to see somewhat similar odds for them vs. the Ducks Friday and Sharks Saturday.
The Pens will have three new forwards out west acquired by trade at Monday’s deadline: Patrick Marleau, Conor Sheary, and Evan Rodrigues.
It was a move to build depth, as 30-something superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin faced the prospect of being worn down by playoff time from coach Mike Sullivan’s frequent use of three lines instead of four recently.
While Sheary returns to a team with which he won Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, Marleau, acquired from the Sharks, is the interesting story: At age 40, after playing 1,715 games across 22 seasons, he suddenly has a chance to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup for the first time. No one in league history has played more games without being part of a championship club.
Flyers are peaking at a good time
FanDuel’s Stanley Cup odds for the Flyers ran as long as 42/1 back in November and December, but they are as hot as anyone right now.
With consecutive wins against the Sharks and Jets, preceded by back-to-back victories over the Blue Jackets, Philly is now 13-4-1 in its past 18 games.
The Flyers also did not stand pat at the trade deadline, although like the Penguins, they made depth moves instead of doing anything with reverberations throughout the NHL. They added forwards Nate Thompson (four goals and 10 assists this season) from the Canadiens and Derek Grant (14 goals, six assists) from the Ducks.
One addition that could have still greater impact — if his health allows — is that of 2017 No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick. He has not played this season due to a migraine disorder, but he has been skating with the team lately, though not cleared for contact.
So while the Flyers will still be playing without their young and talented center, their next two games offer a chance to continue their hot streak. It’s a home-and-home series Friday and Sunday with the New York Rangers, currently lagging in seventh place in the Metro.
Photo by Eric Hartline / USA Today Sports