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Stanley Cup Finals Betting Preview
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators betting analysis
By Bob Duff
Are the Pittsburgh Penguins positioned for a repeat performance, or will the Nashville Predators go all the way to the title in their first Stanley Cup final appearance? We break it down for you here, with odds provided courtesy of Bovada.lv:
The last time a team repeated as Stanley Cup champions, a Clinton was in the White House, France won the World Cup and the NHL had just gone to the Winter Olympics for the first time.
Nearly two decades later, a Clinton came in second in the race for the White House, France just elected a new president, and the NHL says it's done with the Winter Olympics.
Amidst all this, we could have ourselves our first repeat Stanley Cup champions since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings. And you should bet on that happening.
We can list here a myriad of reasons why the Penguins will defeat the Nashville Predators and win the Cup - and we will - but let's start with this one: In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh's 3-2 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators was fashioned thanks to a pair of goals from veteran forward Chris Kunitz, his first two goals in 34 games.
Once a front-line performer, Kunitz, 37, has become a role player with the Pens but if Pittsburgh wins the Cup, he'll have won more Stanley Cup rings (four) than any player in the NHL's salary cap era since 2005.
That's the kind of depth and experience the Penguins have at their disposal, and that the Predators simply don't have available to access. No Predator has ever won the Stanley Cup and just one - captain Mike Fisher with the 2006-07 Senators - has played in a Cup final series. And they don't even know if Fisher is going to play.
Both Fisher and Ryan Johansen, the Predators' top two centers, missed the end of the Western Conference final due to injury. Johansen underwent thigh surgery after Game 4 and hobbled out on the ice on crutches for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl presentation after the Preds had vanquished the Anaheim Ducks.
If Johansen and Fisher can't play, or aren't able to play at 100 percent, good luck to Nashville in halting Pittsburgh's incredible 1-2 punch down the middle of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin leads the Stanley Cup scoring race, and Crosby is right behind him in second.
Pittsburgh's depth of quality scorers is immense. Beyond those two, Phil Kessel (fourth) and rookie Jake Guentzel (sixth) are also among the top six scorers. Nashville has just one player in the top 10, Filip Forsberg in eighth.
The Predators have relied on balanced scoring to get this far. Minus Fisher and Johansen, center Colton Sissons fired a hat-trick in the clinching win over the Ducks. Sixteen different Preds have scored a goal and 10 of them have netted game winners.
Nashville's significant edge in this series will be on defense and in goal. Three of Nashville's top six scorers are defensemen - Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and P.K. Subban - and netminder Pekka Rinne leads all goalies in save percentage (1.70) and goals-against average (.941).
Pittsburgh has gotten steady netminding from its combo of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins' defense, pedestrian on paper, keeps getting the job done.
Cinderella stories are wonderful to tell, but the reality is that sometimes the clock strikes midnight and the shoe - or in this case, the skate - goes on the other foot.
In this case, history does repeat itself. The Penguins will win the Stanley Cup.
Pick: The Penguins (-165) in six games
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