The Playoffs: Looking forward

The Penguins have clinched the playoffs for the 7th straight year including 2 trips to the Stanley Cup finals and 1 Cup to brag about. Last year seemed like it was quite the possibility they were going to make another, but they ended up embarrassed with a 4-0 sweep by the Boston Bruins. So what can we expect from this years playoffs?

If I were a betting man (I might find myself at best sportsbooks, but) I would probably not put my money on another trip to the Stanley Cup finals. Why you might ask? Last year the Penguins went a perfect 15-0 in March, losing the first two games in April, but hammered out another 7 straight wins before dropping another 2. That's the way you want to head into the playoffs, on a high note.

This year our beloved Pens recorded a subpar 8-8 record in March. They've split the first two games thus far in April and have a challenging remaining 5 games to round out the season.

These games will likely tell a lot about how the Pens will perform in the post season, particularly the Philadelphia game. But the up and down, lack of consistency they had in the beginning of the season makes one worry about what to expect once that puck drops in the playoffs. Sure they've been riddled with injuries. Sure Geno isn't playing at the moment due to an injury (among other players). But what confidence do us fans really have with what we're seeing at the moment? Nothing less than a Cup will satiate us as a successful season.

Time will tell...


Upcoming Winter Olympics...

While we're all gearing up for the Winter Olympics to start later this month, our loyalties will once again be tested the minute we see our beloved Penguins skating for their respective countries.

Some might disagree with this notion, but I for one can tell you that while being on the side of team USA the entire way (and always will), I wasn't all that upset to see Crosby beat Ryan Miller some 4 years ago. I know I know, country before everything, some cry. But you know what, I'm not rooting for Zach Parise and such on a daily basis. I am Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik. Even Disco Dan, of course I am.
But we all have our favorite players and Sidney Crosby is just one guy I'm almost never going to root against. Same for Geno. Simple as that.

Nevertheless, you have to check out this interactive Sochi hockey game schedule posted on sportsinteration.com. Really cool way to tell when the games are played. Not only for hockey, but for curling as well!!!!


Future Bets: A look at the odds

As winter turns to spring fans of certain sports anticipate different things. Baseball fans look forward to Spring Training. Horse racing enthusiasts look forward to the Triple Crown races where they can bet on Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont winners. Football fans look for week 12 NFL lines analysis. And even though the weather is getting warmer hockey aficionados have Stanley Cup playoff and World Championship puck action on tap. In the sports books of Las Vegas the Pittsburgh Penguins are currently the top choice to take the Stanley Cup.

The Penguins are priced at +650 to win the Cup putting them slightly ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks, priced at +700. A quick primer on how moneylines work—a $100 bet on the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup would return $650 (plus a return of your initial $100 bet) if they are able to pull off the victory.

After Pittsburgh and Chicago other Stanley Cup frontrunners include the San Jose Sharks (+800), the Boston Bruins (+850), the St. Louis Blues (+1100) and the Anaheim Ducks (+1400). Further down the list there are some intriguing choices priced at 25/1 or higher including the Tampa Bay Lightning (+2400) and the Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers (all priced at +2500). It's not unprecedented for an eventual Stanley Cup winner to be available in this price range—in the past decade or so the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning all cashed tickets at or in excess of 25/1.

What about the big long shots? The teams at the bottom of the league standings are unlikely to 'catch fire' and claim the Stanley Cup but should that happen the 'return on investment' is huge. The Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets are both +10000 to win the Stanley Cup. The Edmonton Oilers are +15000 followed by the Calgary Flames (+30000) and the Florida Panthers (+30000). The biggest longshot is the Buffalo Sabres who are currently dead last in the league. It's unlikely that they dig out of this big hole but if they do they'll return +45000.

If you're looking to make a NHL futures bet keep in mind that these moneyline prices vary widely from one sportsbook to another. Make sure to shop around for the best price before locking in your bet.


How Malkin Can Turn Things Around

Despite being at the top of the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t been clicking on all cylinders as of yet in 2013-2014. While star Sidney Crosby has been great in carrying the offense, his main running mate Evgeni Malkin has struggled by his standards. As the first quarter of the season wraps up, how can the former MVP and star fantasy hockey performer get back on track and make Pittsburgh a true Stanley Cup contender?

After getting off to a solid start this season, Malkin has hit a rough patch the last few weeks. He has only found the goal once in his last 10 contests, and he is not creating a lot of opportunities for others like in the past as well. The timing for him seems to be off, and a lot of that could be due to the injury suffered by James Neal. The winger should return fairly soon, and that would give Malkin a familiar face to play off of on his line.

Another option for Pittsburgh could be to switch up their lines by possibly breaking up the Crosby-Chris Kunitz-Pascal Dupuis trio. That would be a tough pill to swallow though, because they have been perhaps the best line in fantasy hockey all season long. Messing with chemistry there could get Malkin back on track, but throw off Crosby. The one good thing about Crosby is that he seems to be much better playing with different teammates, while Malkin is more of a creature of habit.

 The Penguins still look great on paper, but Malkin is the type of player who can make a huge difference in the postseason. Obviously, there is a lot of time to sort it all out by then, but Malkin needs to get back to at least All-Star form. Right now he is getting lost in the shuffle on offense, and his line is struggling.


BANK SHOTS - Worth the effort?

How to Make Money in Professional Sports - Infographic
Courtesy of: Sports Interaction


Welcome to the East, Detroit.

As the 2013-14 NHL season approaches there is a lot of speculation about who might capture the Stanley Cup this year. While we haven't seen as many changes this off-season as we have in previous years, what we did see is a major shift in the divisional structure. The NHL has moved from six divisions to four. While only three teams have made the shift between conferences, the biggest impact has to be Detroit coming East. Winnipeg is heading west (rightly so) and the other shift is Columbus coming East too.

Detroit is going to pose a much more difficult time for the teams in their new division. Teams such as Boston, Buffalo, and Montreal are all now forced not only to face the Wings 6 times a season, but now rival them for a playoff spot for the foreseeable future. The breakdown of the new divisions can be found here, which also includes the new playoff structure as well.

Our last post indicated some of best odds with the Penguins being the favorites. Other sites offer odds in a game by game format. Below is a link to Sports Illustrated's most recent article on the Vegas odds with Chicago on top. Chicago seems to be the top team seeing as they've not only won two Cups in four seasons, but they have remained to keep their core in tact as well. Our beloved Penguins appear to be favorites as well. Let's be honest, as long as Crosby and Malkin remain on the team together, they'll always be a favorite.

Here are the top 5 in the latest odds on the winner of the 2014 Stanley Cup (via Sports Illustrated):

Chicago Blackhawks: 6-1
Pittsburgh Penguins: 13-2
Boston Bruins: 10-1
Los Angeles Kings: 12-1
St. Louis Blues: 12-1
Detroit Red Wings: 16-1


Early Betting Odds For The Stanley Cup

It's been an eventful summer for the NHL, and that means speculation is already heating up as to what we'll http://www.sportsunbiased.com/ for a clear look at the new divisions as they now stand.
be seeing in the 2013-2014 season. In addition to the Entry Draft, this summer saw the dramatic realignment of hockey divisions (into a 2 conference, 2 divisions each format), meaning new match-ups and team groupings. You can visit

But with summer largely behind us, how are teams stacking up for the coming season? At http://betting.betfair.com/, betting odds are already posted for each team's chances at winning the Stanley Cup! So let's take a look at the 10 teams with the best odds (and don't worry - the Penguins are on top!).

10. Washington Capitals (18/1 odds)
The Capitals may be in trouble. They made no moves to get better this offseason, and they'll have to compete in the stacked new "Metropolitan" Division.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs (18/1)
The Leafs were fairly strong in the shortened season, and have added a strong second goalie in Jonathan Bernier, as well as a talented scorer in David Clarkson. This is a team to watch.

8. Anaheim Ducks (16/1)
"Rebuild" is too dramatic a term, but the Ducks are likely in waiting mode before they'll be back on top. Still, this looks like a decent playoff team.

7. Montreal Canadiens (16/1)
This team earned a 2-seed in the East last season, and hasn't lost any crucial pieces. That said, most felt they overachieved last season, and goalie Carey Price will need to return to top form for them to compete.

6. Vancouver Canucks (14/1)
This team is a bit in limbo with a new coach in place and a seemingly patient approach to bringing in fresh talent. They're capable, but could disappoint as well.

5. St. Louis Blues (12/1)
This team is on its way, and has gone through the process of learning and improving through losses. It could be a big year for the Blues.

4. Los Angeles Kings (10/1)
Bernier and Scuderi are tough losses, but the Kings are a proven juggernaut. One feels that as long as Jonathan Quick is manning the pipes, this team will be in the mix.

3. Boston Bruins (10/1)
The Bruins are built to win, but after giving as much as they gave to reach the Finals last season, and after losing Tyler Seguin, they can't quite be called favorites.

2. Chicago Blackhawks (5/1)
This team is basically unchanged since winning the Cup, having added Nikolai Khabibulin and lost Dave Bolland and a few less significant pieces. There's always the "hangover" to fear, but the Hawks should be in the thick of the race again.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (5/1)
The Penguins are still feeling the sting of that awful Bruins series, but nonetheless return arguably the most talented team in hockey. Rob Scuderi should give the defense a handy boost.



By Kenny Lindberg...

It started by getting Brenden Morrow, then sneaking under the radar to upgrade the defense to get Douglas Murray, and then into the wee hours of the morning General Manager Ray Shero completed quite possibly the greatest act of trade wizardry that has been seen of recent time in finishing of the trifecta by getting Jarome Iginla. With almost all of the Pens Universe rejoicing over what Shero had just done, very few people noticed the impact of what was lost in negotiation.

To acquire these three premium talents it cost the Pens their first two picks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, a Second Round pick in 2014, their 5th round pick this year, two average grade college prospects, and top prospect Joe Morrow. You can learn how to place a bet on hockey, but Shero is always willing to make a solid gamble.

The Brenden Morrow trade is a very solid trade for the Penguins. With surrendering Joe Morrow we lost a high quality puck moving defensemen, however had not fit in the best with the Pens system. The price to get Morrow was very steep, as Ray Shero wanted to make sure to get his guy, especially with a team like Boston rumored to be in the mix as well. Lost in all of the talk of this trade is the 2013 3rd round selection that was gained in this trade, which will likely be the Pens first selection of the draft, of which could become an asset in its own right come draft day or even at the impending trade deadline.

In Douglas Murray, the Pens sent two 2nd round picks to San Jose, one in 2013 and one in 2014. For a defensemen whose plus minus is a -8 this may seem to be a bit steep, however considering the prices that Shero paid for the other two this should be considered a real bargain. Murray should immediately provide some shot relief being one of the leagues more physical defensive defensemen.

The two prospects involved in the Iginla deal were Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski are not exactly household names, but neither was Jarome Iginla when he was traded to Calgary for Joe Newendyk (yes the same guy Shero just traded with for Brenden Morrow). The Pens also surrendered their 1st round pick in what was considered to be a very deep round in the draft this year.

I have seen in many places these moves (especially the Iginla deal) be compared to the Rangers trade for Rick Nash being that it will have no effect, and also the New York Yankees in that they pretty much get who they wanted, however this could not be further from reality. The New York Rangers made the mistake of trading away their supplemental role players Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, to acquire a primary scorer in Rick Nash, who is like a Marian Hossa he’s very good but not as impactful when surrounded by other high caliber players like Marian Gaborik. The Yankees comparison is kind of funny to see because people are treating what the Pens are doing as if there is no cap. When you have a great scouting and development structure like the Penguins have, Ray Shero can make moves like this and send out players who most fans would never otherwise hear about because their development has skied their value in the inner circles of hockey.

In these three moves, Ray Shero has acquired premier talent for the present, while also not mortgaging the future of the Pittsburgh Penguins, of which I would give the moves made a grade of A. In Ray We Trust.


Famous Hockey Players Smitten By Gambling

Potential problems that emanate from gambling traverse from financial to legal sanctions. That occasional trip to live casinos or occasional sports betting if uncontrolled can easily turn into addiction. It’s all fun until it haunts you back with job loss and failure of personal relationships. Well, these are what three famous hockey players had to deal with in the middle of their glimmering careers.

Don Gallinger

If you think that game fixing and gambling were spawned just recently, you got it wrong. As early as the 1940s, media reports have noted of such incidents in the scene of the National Hockey League or the NHL. The longest suspension in the league’s history was given to Donald Calvin Gallinger. The Canadian hockey player played more than 200 games in his career. He broke into stardom in 1942, but his budding career was cut short in 1948 when he was found guilty of massive betting (for his team to lose) and association with a famous Detroit gambler of their period, James Tamer.

Gallinger and his teammate Billy Taylor were both banned for life in the NHL. They were able to get back in the league in 1970, following more than two decades of sanctions.

Richard Tocchet 

Another Canadian hockey star got himself involved in gambling hullaballoos. Richard Tocchet was a popular ice hockey right winger before he became Tampa Bay Lightning’s Head Coach. The young Tocchet was drafted in 1983 and played for 18 seasons in the NHL.

He retired his jersey in 2002. Four years after, he visited headlines of newspapers for allegations of funding a nationwide sports gambling organization. There were a number of active NHL players at that time that were dragged into this scandal. He pleaded guilty in 2007 and served two years in probation.

Jaromir Jagr 

Being named as the most successful European player to ever set foot in the NHL and is considered one of history’s finest athletes in hockey, you can’t help but to ask why Jaromir Jagr became involved in gambling problems.

Jagr hails from the Czech Republic and is the country’s premier hockey player for many winter Olympics. He served as captain for the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. A year following his draft, he immediately won 2 Stanley Cup titles. He was the league’s scoring leader for five times and a member of the NHL First All Star Team seven times.

Just like any gambling addiction, Jagr was led to personal and financial ruin. In 2003, he confessed to paying nearly a million U.S. dollars to two internet gambling sites. That same year, he was sued by the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion cases that cost him millions more.

These famous athletes are representations of the menace that haunts this society – gambling addiction. Whether you’re going from a simple $2 lottery ticket to $200,000 bets in casinos, you should be able to control the habit before it takes full control of you. There’s nothing wrong if you do it occasionally and for entertainment, but if it’s negatively impacting your life, you should start seeking professional help.


Modest Crosby

Sidney Crosby has always known the right things to say. His calm and collective interviews have been the root that keeps his reputation as a respected person off the ice in tact. Here is a video of him after learning of being nominated for both the Ted Lindsay award and the Hart Trophy.

With the Penguins now up 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the 2013 playoffs, fans are feeling much better about the situation. While many weren't willing to bet this game would go past a game 5, the Pens are only one game away from advancing on. If you were willing to bet, there is available NHL Hockey betting at Topbet.eu. ESPN has the latest odds of the game as the Penguins coming out on top. But as everyone knows, any team can come out on top regardless of their seeding (cf. 2012 NHL Stanley Cup winners).

In the end, I'm personally more comfortable that the Penguins situation. If I had to put my money on both teams shaking hands tonight, I'd go for it. This team doesn't want to go 7 games with a thriving young 8th seed with nothing to lose. They end tonight. 

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