They’ve won 16 consecutive games on their home ice, their top gunners – Marion Hossa, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby – have been on fire and their goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury, has never been more efficient. And, yet, the Pittsburgh Penguins stand no chance in the Stanley Cup championship series.
This, at least, is the view of professional oddsmakers, who’ve established the Pens as sizeable underdogs against the Detroit Red Wings for the NHL final, which begins Saturday.
The Wings are $1.60 favourites, meaning wagerers who take them must lay that much to win a dollar. If the Pens prevail, bettors would collect $1.40 for every dollar they placed on them.
My hunch: The Wings take the series in seven. But the Pens, if they re-sign Hossa, win the next three Cups in a row.
- Doesn’t the NHL’s schedule really seem odd now, in retrospect, since the Wings and Pens never met even once during the regular season?
I mean, seriously, how far apart are Detroit and Pittsburgh? A one-hour flight?
- From the mighty-have-fallen department comes word from NBA sources that the Raptors are seeking to dump their previously highly touted forward, Andrea Bargnani, and have had significant trade discussions about him with the New Jersey Nets, who also covet the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby and the Phoenix Suns’ Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw. . .Brace yourself for this: Tim Donaghy, the ex-NBA referee who’s been busted for shaving points and gambling on games, is about to testify that other officials, coaches and even players were aware of, and participated in, fixes. . .Let’s knock off all the dissing of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, shall we? Kobe quietly went out the other day and bought each of his teammates $9,000 Swiss watches. Nice gesture by the MVP.
- And, speaking of unfairly criticized MVPs, the New York Yankees went 6-11 while Alex Rodriguez was injured. . .The San Diego Padres are wretched and about to start dealing players, including future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who’ll likely return to the Atlanta Braves’ pitching staff. . .The Seattle Mariners, also inept, are desperate and plucked a Blue Jays farmhand, 27-year-old Tracy Thorpe, off the waiver wire. Thorpe was 2-0 with four saves in 13 appearances for Triple A Syracuse. . .And then there’s ex-slugger Jose Canseco, whose latest steroids-in-baseball book isn’t exactly a best-seller and who lost his home after missing mortgage payments. Sadly, he’s about to become a so-called celebrity boxer — $5,000 per appearance.