Jason Brough

Penguins are 9/5 favorites to win Stanley Cup: online bookmaker

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A fat lot of good it did for the Washington Capitals, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are the betting favorites to win the Stanley Cup, according to online bookmaker Bovada.

The odds for the remaining four teams:

Pittsburgh Penguins — 9/5
St. Louis Blues — 2/1
San Jose Sharks — 4/1
Tampa Bay Lightning — 17/4

That the Bolts won’t have Steven Stamkos or Anton Stralman to start their series with the Pens is undoubtedly a factor in the odds. And, of course, Pittsburgh has been playing extremely well and the star-studded Penguins are a popular team with bettors.

Not surprisingly, the Penguins also feature prominently in the odds to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. Despite a quiet second round, Sidney Crosby is the favorite at 9/2, with Phil Kessel (19/2) and Evgeni Malkin (10/1), and Matt Murray (11/1) not far behind.

Full Conn Smythe odds

odds

Here are PHT’s conference final predictions

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 5: Patric Hornqvist #72 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shoots past Jason Garrison #5 of the Tampa Bay Lightning to score  during the first period at the Amalie Arena on February 5, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Twelve series down, just three to go.

Unlike the first round, the second round was mostly successful for PHT’s prognosticators. Nobody went below .500, even the virtual coin. All the humans picked the Blues over the Stars, and everyone including the virtual coin had the Sharks over the Predators. Also, props to O’Brien, who nailed “Penguins in six” on the nose.

Of course, we shouldn’t pat ourselves too hard on the back, because with the elimination of the Washington Capitals, nobody’s Stanley Cup pick is still alive. While it’s true that Halford picked the Lightning in the preseason, he changed his mind to the Blackhawks before the playoffs. So that was a good call.

Second-round results (Overall record)

Brough: 3-1 (8-4)
Halford: 3-1 (7-5)
O’Brien: 3-1 (8-4)
Dadoun: 2-2 (5-7)
Tucker: 3-1 (8-4)
Alfieri: 3-1 (7-5)
Just Flip A Coin: 2-2 (5-7)

On to the conference finals….

Pittsburgh Penguins versus Tampa Bay Lightning

Brough: Penguins in 7
Halford: Penguins in 7
O’Brien: Penguins in 7
Dadoun: Penguins in 7
Tucker: Penguins in 6
Alfieri: Penguins in 6
Just Flip A Coin: Penguins

(Prove us wrong, Bolts!)

St. Louis Blues versus San Jose Sharks

Brough: Sharks in 6*
Halford: Blues in 7
O’Brien: Sharks in 6
Dadoun: Blues in 7
Tucker: Sharks in 7
Alfieri: Sharks in 7
Just Flip A Coin: Blues

*This was a tough call, since I picked the Blues to make the final in the preseason. I feel in a way like I’m abandoning them, but at the same time I’m excited for my new life with the Sharks. 

Sullivan lauds Murray’s ‘ability to stay in the moment’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 10:  Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins  makes a save against the Washington Capitals in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Matt Murray was the first Penguins goalie off the ice this morning in Pittsburgh. The 21-year-old rookie is expected to start tonight in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Murray, of course, has been one of the major stories of these playoffs, going 7-2-0 with a .935 save percentage. While there’s been some debate over whether veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, now healthy, should return to the net, head coach Mike Sullivan obviously likes what he’s got in the youngster.

“I just think Matt has the ability to stay in the moment. You know, he doesn’t get overwhelmed by the circumstance or the drama,” said Sullivan.

“He has the ability to respond the right way to some of the adversities during the course of a game or the course of a number of games for that matter.”

The attitude that Sullivan is describing is one that Murray has worked hard to cultivate. After all, goalies are going to allow bad goals, and they’re going to have bad games. It’s unavoidable. The key is the ability to bounce back and put the past in the past.

“I don’t think a result should impact your confidence,” Murray told the Post-Gazette“If you have an outstanding game, that doesn’t exactly make you an outstanding goalie. If you have a really bad game, that definitely doesn’t make you a really bad goalie.”

So far this postseason, Murray hasn’t had to shake off a “really bad game.” In nine starts, the most goals he’s allowed is four, and on that one occasion he didn’t allow the fourth until overtime. In five starts, he’s allowed two goals or fewer.

“I’ve watched him both in Wilkes-Barre and here in Pittsburgh,” said Sullivan. “If he thinks he should have had a save or one gets by him, it doesn’t impact the next play or the next save. He responds the right way to those sorts of adversities. And I think that speaks to his maturity. I think it speaks to his character, that he has the ability to respond the right way to those types of circumstances.”

World Cup roster deadline is now May 27

Former NHL hockey player Darryl Sittler, left, Toronto Mayor John Tory, center, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, second right, and NHLPA Executive Director, Don Fehr, right, unveil the tournament countdown clock for the World Cup of Hockey, Wednesday, March 2, 2016,  in Toronto.  (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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The deadline to announce the final roster spots for the World Cup has been moved up to Friday, May 27.

The original deadline was June 1. Presumably, the date was changed in order to avoid any conflict with the start of the Stanley Cup Final.

May 27 is also the day Game 7 between the Blues and Sharks would be played, if necessary.

Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final is scheduled for May 26.

Related: P.K. Subban has competition to make Team Canada

Panthers fire assistant coach Madden

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 16: Assistant coach John Madden talks to Brad Boyes #24 of the Florida Panthers during third period action against the San Jose Sharks at the BB&T Center on January 16, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. The Sharks defeated the Panthers 3-0. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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John Madden is no longer an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers.

According to the Miami Herald, Madden has been fired after three seasons with the club. His tenure predated the hiring of head coach Gerard Gallant, who’s only been on the job two years.

Madden’s duties included coaching the Panthers’ defensemen and running the penalty kill. (Florida’s PK ranked 24th in 2015-16.)

The club is expected to hire two new assistants to join Mike Kelly and goalie coach Robb Tallas on Gallant’s staff.

The Panthers are also expected to announce Tom Rowe as their new general manager, with current GM Dale Tallon becoming president of hockey operations. According to the Herald, that announcement could come “as early as Monday.”

Related: Panthers hire John Madden as a pro scout