- BetOnline’s updated Metropolitan Division odds still list the Capitals (-250) as heavy favorites
- The Penguins (+300) sit only six points back of Washington despite losing 139 man-games to injury
- Sidney Crosby has five points (2G, 3A) in two games since returning from injury while Alex Ovechkin continues to score (31 goals) at a torrid pace
The Penguins went 18-6-4 with Sidney Crosby on the shelf, the second-best record in the NHL over that span, to climb within striking distance of the division-leading Capitals.
The even better news is that the three-time Cup champion returned from his 28-game absence in style on Tuesday night, collecting a goal and three assists in a 7-3 victory over the Wild.
Heading into the All-Star break, let’s review the latest odds at BetOnline to see if Pittsburgh is worth a wager in the Metropolitan.
NHL METROPOLITAN DIVISION ODDS
|Team||Current Odds||Trending||Nov. 5, 2019|
|New York Islanders||+1200||↓||+200|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+3300||↑||+5000|
|New York Rangers||+15000||↓||+2000|
|New Jersey Devils||+25000||↓||+2000|
The Penguins have undoubtedly had the most impressive first half in the entire league. If you remember correctly, Crosby actually delayed the abdominal surgery that kept him out of the lineup for two months until Evgeni Malkin returned from his own 11-game absence.
The club was also without defensemen Kris Letang, Justin Schultz and Brian Dumoulin for extended periods, and 40-goal man Jake Guentzel will be sidelined until at least April after undergoing shoulder surgery. Add it all up and Pittsburgh has already lost 139 man-games to injury (second only to Detroit).
Sidney Crosby is back with a vengeance, folks. pic.twitter.com/Brd98D8bga
— NHL (@NHL) January 15, 2020
Still, they soldier on. In addition to being seventh in the league in goals scored, Mike Sullivan’s tenacious, puck-controlling bunch is one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. It’s one of the reasons we recommended the Pens at +1400 to win the Eastern Conference in late November.
Pittsburgh was riding a four-game win streak before Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to Boston and are still worth betting on to win the division at +300, even though you could have had them at +700 when we last checked in.
Six points up on Pittsburgh, the Capitals are still the favorites (-250) to win their fifth-straight Metropolitan division.
Notching his 25th career hat-trick in Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Devils, Ovechkin continues to get it done at age 34. He’s tied for third in the league with 31 snipes, and after passing Teemu Selanne on the all-time scoring list on Monday, he sits just one goal back of Mario Lemieux (690) for tenth place.
Alex Ovechkin makes it 15-straight seasons with 30+ goals. ?? ?
Does he (688) have a chance to catch Gretzky's all-time mark (894)? ? pic.twitter.com/F7U3BsaTH7
— theScore (@theScore) January 17, 2020
Ovie’s longtime linemate Nicklas Backstrom is also a much richer man, re-upping with the Caps for $46 million over five years this week, but neither star leads Washington in scoring. That distinction belongs to Norris-frontrunner John Carlson, who’s peaking in his age-30 season with 57 points (13 goals, 44 assists) through 48 games.
Having slowed down from their blistering early-year pace (6-4 in last ten games), expect the Capitals to return strong from their upcoming bye week (January 19-26). While it’s tough to bet them at -250, there’s no reason to panic if you grabbed them at +400 before the season.