Coming off the second Stanley Cup success of the Crosby-Malkin era, the Pittsburgh Penguins will probably be trying to become the first team of the 2000s to repeat as Cup winners. They are set to make a significant run again this season since the vast majority of the best talent is still under 30 years of age. The Pens smothered their competitions during the playoffs with a fast-break offensive style that saw them outshoot their opponent in 20 of 24 playoff games. Maintaining that pace over the course of an entire season won’t be easy, but Pittsburgh should still be one of the best displays on ice this season.
They turned into a much different team under Mike Sullivan, who was brought in as head coach on December 12 following a 15-13 start. They improved under Sullivan, heading 33-21 to finish out the regular season and finished top 5 in goals per game in each of the last four months of the year after being at the bottom third before the Sullivan hire. Perhaps most noticeable was Sidney Crosby’s advancement because his stage total increased per month during the regular season.
Here’s a look at their odds entering the season:
Stanley Cup +1000
We don’t see many repeat winners at the NHL such as we do in other professional sports leagues. The last to do so was the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998, but with the core of last year’s team returning, this might be the year that the back-to-back drought comes to an end. They find themselves behind the Blackhawks (+750) about the oddsboard and are tied with the Capitals and Lightning.
Their drive into the Cup was fueled by an incredible ability to bounce back, as they finished the season with a 19-1 record in matches after a loss. This is far from a coincidence — it is a mentality instituted by Sullivan along with the coaching team and when it’s something that they can carry forward into this season, they’ll be tough to knock out in a seven-game series.
Eastern Conference +400
Similar to the Stanley Cup champion, we do not see many back-to-back Eastern Conference champions, but it does happen more often. It last occurred with all the — you guessed it — Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and 2009. Just three teams since 1988 have been repeat winners in the conference, with all the Pens accomplishing the feat .
Sidney Crosby and business will be the faves to win the conference again this season and their main challenger will likely be the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team they beat in seven games in last year’s conference final. Pittsburgh might have caught a small break in the series using Lightning captain Steven Stamkos being on the shelf for a few of those games while recovering from surgery.
Metropolitan Division +180
Pittsburgh is your favorite to win the division however, the Washington Capitals are hot on their heels at +195. Unless the New York Rangers can get their act together, this will likely be a two-team race. Considering that the new division realignment three seasons ago, the Pens, Rangers and Caps have all won the Metropolitan, while they all have a second-place finish too.
Since Sidney Crosby entered the NHL in 2005, the Penguins have won their division three times. Of note regarding their stiffest competition from the division, the Capitals have won their division six times since Alex Ovechkin entered the league in 2005.
Point complete OVER/UNDER 103.5
Only two teams have a greater OVER/UNDER point total than the Pens — Tampa Bay (105.5) and Washington (106.5). Both sides of the bet come in at -115. Not including the strike-shortened season of 2012-13, Pittsburgh has really gone over 103.5 points in four of their previous five complete seasons. Taking that into consideration and also considering how dominant they were during their Cup run, the OVER looks like a fantastic bet.
Read more here: http://ddaems.be/?p=13744