Online oddsmaker: Crosby, Kessel co-favorites for Olympic MVP; Oshie at 15/1


Online sportsbook Bovada has released a series of props prior to the start of the Olympic hockey playoff round and, unsurprisingly, a pair of American names have rocketed up the MVP list.

Phil Kessel, the tournament’s leading scorer, sits even with Sidney Crosby (11/2) as the favorite to win most valuable player. The odds illustrate what a dominant tournament Kessel’s had thus far — on Feb. 5, Bovada released a similar set of pre-tournament MVP odds in which the Toronto winger was listed at 30/1.

As for the other American moving up the list, Olympic hero T.J. Oshie comes in at 15/1 after failing to crack the initial list. Oshie skyrocketed to fame thanks to his four goals in a dramatic win over Russia on Saturday, and now has the same odds as Finnish goalie Tuukka Rask to win tournament MVP.

Here’s the full odds list, per Bovada:

Phil Kessel (USA) 11/2
Sidney Crosby (CAN) 11/2
Pavel Datsyuk (RUS) 13/2
Drew Doughty (CAN) 15/2
Alex Ovechkin (RUS) 8/1
Jonathan Quick (USA) 10/1
Carey Price (CAN) 10/1
Henrik Lundqvist (SWE) 10/1
Erik Karlsson (SWE) 12/1
Semyon Varlamov (RUS) 12/1
T.J. Oshie (USA) 15/1
Tuukka Rask (FIN) 15/1
John Tavares (CAN) 20/1
James van Riemsdyk (USA) 15/1
Jonas Hiller (SUI) 25/1
Ondrej Pavelec (CZE) 40/1
Tomas Plekanec (CZE) 50/1
Olli Jokinen (FIN) 50/1

And here are the updated gold medal odds:

Canada 17/10
USA 11/4
Russia 16/5
Sweden 5/1
Finland 11/1
Czech Republic 25/1
Switzerland 25/1
Slovakia 100/1
Norway 500/1
Latvia 500/1
Austria 500/1
Slovenia 500/1

Finally, Bovada’s also released a series of props for the tournament’s leading goalscorer. The current leader, Michael Grabner, is at 5/4, followed by Kessel (7/4), Doughty (13/2), Jeff Carter (8/1), Ovechkin (9/1), Evgeni Malkin (11/1), Karlsson (12/1), Crosby (20/1), Joe Pavelski (30/1) and Ryan Getzlaf (30/1).

Replacing Beauchemin with Bieksa hasn’t worked out so great for Anaheim

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Are the Anaheim Ducks missing Francois Beauchemin more than they thought they might?

It’s a question we’ve been hearing more and more lately, as the Ducks’ goal-scoring woes of October have been replaced by defensive issues in November.

Anaheim is 3-4-2 in its last nine games. The Ducks have allowed 27 goals in regulation during that stretch — that’s three per game on average — plus two more in a pair of overtime losses.

In a related story, per the O.C. Register, here’s what coach Bruce Boudreau said the other day about offseason acquisition Kevin Bieksa:

“He’s a veteran guy that has to fight his way out of this. We count on him to not make mistakes. We will go as far as guys like him take us.”

Bieksa, 34, is minus-7 in his last four games combined. True, he’s forced to play a lot of hard minutes against good players. But then, that’s exactly what he was brought in to do. The Ducks even gave him a two-year, $8 million extension, locking him up through 2017-18.

Now consider what Boudreau said during last year’s playoff run, about the guy Bieksa was brought in to replace:

“He’s the voice. Everybody else is so young. [He] is the voice back there.”

And Beauchemin was more than just a talker. He led the Ducks in ice time. He had nine assists in 16 playoff games. Bottom line: he was a big part of a team that fell one win shy of making the Stanley Cup Final.

Beauchemin, of course, signed a three-year deal with Colorado on July 1, for a cap hit of $4.5 million. So far, he’s been as advertised for the Avs. The 35-year-old has two goals and 10 assists. He gets the most ice time on the team, an average of 23:33.

Looking back, Anaheim GM Bob Murray never did want to lose Beauchemin. The Ducks just weren’t prepared to offer what the Avs did.

“Beauch’ has been a pretty good warrior for us,” Murray said in June. “He has a one-time chance for free agency and maybe somebody will give him $5 million.… I couldn’t do that.”

One has to wonder now if Murray wishes he’d found a way.

The Ducks host the Blackhawks tonight on NBCSN.

Devils sign veteran Kennedy to one-year, $600K deal

Tyler Kennedy, Lee Stempniak
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A second forward has converted a PTO with New Jersey into a shiny new contract.

Tyler Kennedy, who’s on his second professional tryout with the club, has agreed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level, the Devils announced on Friday.

Kennedy, 29, first caught on with the Devils in the preseason, only to be released in early October. He then rejoined the club on a second PTO in mid-November, and earned himself a deal.

A former 20-goal scorer with the Pens, Kennedy fell on hard times last year. It began in San Jose — where he never fit in Todd McLellan’s plans — and ended on Long Island, where he sat for over half of the Isles’ opening-round playoff loss to the Caps.

As for where he’ll fit in the Devils lineup?

Kennedy said he’s ready to play tonight — the Devils take on Montreal — and it’s possible Stefan Matteau could be scratched, allowing Kennedy to stpe into a bottom-six forward role.

As for how the Devils will free a roster spot — Jiri Tlusty remains on IR with a shoulder issue, while David Schlemko could be away from the club for a bit, as his wife is due to give birth.

Rangers park Boyle, Stalberg in press box for Thanksgiving Showdown

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Seven
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I’m not going to make the “it really is Black Friday for Dan Boyle and Viktor Stalberg” joke, but had to recognize it as a semi-viable lede.

So that’s out of the way.

Now, onto the business at hand — per the New York Daily News, Boyle and Stalberg will be scratched today when the Rangers take on the Bruins in the annual Thanksgiving Showdown (1 p.m. ET, NBC). Dylan McIlrath will draw in on defense for Boyle, while Emerson Etem will take Stalberg’s spot up front.

It’s not really surprising Alain Vigneault made some lineup changes.

The Blueshirts’ last outing was arguably their worst of the season — a 5-1 home loss to the Canadiens, a game in which Boyle finished minus-2 and Stalberg played the least among all Rangers skaters, with just 11:20 TOI.

More: Dan Boyle isn’t thrilled with all these healthy scratches

What’s more, McIlrath hasn’t played in nearly two weeks (Nov. 15, versus Toronto). It’s been even longer for Etem — he’s been out of the lineup since a win over the Blues on Nov. 12.

Related: Just a friendly reminder about Friday’s Bruins-Rangers Thanksgiving Showdown, on NBC

Goal-starved Flyers recall AHL Phantoms leading scorer Cousins

Nazem Kadri

Desperate for offense, Philly made a fairly noteworthy move on Friday — Nick Cousins has been brought up from the minors.

Cousins, 22, has been a solid scorer at the AHL level in each of the last two seasons. He led Lehigh Valley with 56 points in 64 games in ’14-15 and, this year, has 18 through 15 — putting him in a tie for seventh in league scoring.

The former OHL Sault Ste. Marie standout does have some NHL experience, having played 11 games for the Flyers last season. He averaged just under nine minutes per game over that span, and failed to register a point.

Looking ahead, Cousins could make his season debut today, when Philly hosts the Preds. Right now it’s unclear where he’d fit in the lineup.

To make room for Cousins on the roster, the Flyers sent Taylor Leier down to the Phantoms.