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Can NHL Hockey Betting Faves Pens Squeeze Out one More?

Posted by: Mike Davis
Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins are the NHL hockey betting favorites to win it a third straight time

The back-to-back Stanley Cup champions the Pittsburgh Penguins are the NHL hockey betting favorites to win it a third straight time – something which has not been done since the New York Islanders won four Cups in a row from 1980 to 1983. Then again, no team had won it twice consecutively since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. The Pens have lost several key players in the offseason but in addition to Sid Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Matt Murray they are expected to avail themselves once again of the services of Kris Letang.

The defenseman missed the postseason after undergoing neck surgery. As people who enjoy online hockey betting will remember, in 2016 Letang became just the fourth player in league history to record a point on all four game winning goals in the Stanley Cup Finals. Additionally, he registered five goals and 29 assists in 41 games of his shortened 2016-17 season. The Pens overcame a litany of injuries – Letang’s included – to win a second straight Cup, but the defenseman’s status has progressed so well that he has enlisted the help of wide receiver extraordinaire Terrel Owens to help him improve his footwork. “He’s teaching us a lot of little things. He’s been a pro for a long time and obviously his assets are a little bit different than a hockey player’s, so he’s trying to teach us a couple of things, but I try to go toe-to-toe with him,” Letang said.

The NHL hockey betting-favored Pens will need Letang to hit the ground running and pick up where he left off without missing a beat in order to help fill the void left by several departures such as the following:

  • Marc-Andre Fleury was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. He went 9-6 with a 2.56 GAA, a .924 save percentage and two shutouts while subbing for Murray in the playoffs.
  • Chris Kunitz signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 1st. Kunitz had 29 points (nine goals and 20 assists) in 71 games last season.
  • Nick Bonino signed a four-year contract with the Nashville Predators on July 1st. He had 37 points (18 goals and 19 assists) in 80 games last season and seven points (four goals and three assists) in 21 postseason games.
  • Trevor Daley signed a three-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1st. He had 19 points (five goals and 14 assists) in 56 games last season and five points (one goal and four assists) in 21 playoff games.

By way of contrast, here are a few of the new arrivals that the Pens hope can help then live up to their NHL hockey betting status:

  • Antti Niemi signed a one-year, $700,000 contract on July 1st as Murray’s backup. He won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, and went 12-12-4 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in 37 games for the Dallas Stars last season.
  • Matt Hunwick signed a three-year, $6.75 million deal on July 1st. he had 19 points (one goal and 18 assists) in 72 games and averaged 17:58 of ice time per game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.