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Penguins are Built for Another Cup Run in 2016-17

Penguins Crosby

Coming off the second Stanley Cup victory of the Crosby-Malkin era, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be trying to become the first team of the 2000s to repeat as Cup champions. They’re set to make a serious run again this year as the majority of their top talent is still under 30 years old. The Pens smothered their opponents during the playoffs with a fast-break offensive style that saw them outshoot their opponent in 20 of 24 playoff games. Maintaining that pace over the course of an entire season won’t be easy, but Pittsburgh should still be one of the best shows on ice this season.

They became a much different team under Mike Sullivan, who was brought in as head coach on December 12 after a 15-13 start. They improved under Sullivan, going 33-21 to finish out the regular season and finished top 5 in goals per game in each of the last four months of the season after being in the bottom third prior to the Sullivan hire. Perhaps most noticeable was Sidney Crosby’s improvement as his point total increased each month during the regular season.

Here’s a look at their odds entering the season:

Stanley Cup +1000

We don’t see many repeat champions in the NHL like we do in other professional sports leagues. The last to do so was the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998, but with the core of last year’s team returning, this could be the year that the back-to-back drought comes to an end. They find themselves behind the Blackhawks (+750) on the oddsboard and are tied with the Capitals and Lightning.

Their drive to the Cup was fueled by an incredible ability to bounce back, as they finished the season with a 19-1 record in games after a loss. This is far from a coincidence — it’s a mentality instituted by Sullivan and the coaching staff and if it’s something they can carry forward into this season, they’ll be tough to knock out in a seven-game series.

Eastern Conference +400

Similar to the Stanley Cup champion, we don’t see many back-to-back Eastern Conference champions, but it does happen more often. It last occurred with the — you guessed it — Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 and 2009. Only three teams since 1988 have been repeat winners in the conference, with the Pens accomplishing the feat twice.

Sidney Crosby and company are the faves to win the conference again this year and their biggest challenger will likely be the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team they beat in seven games in last season’s conference final. Pittsburgh may have caught a bit of a break in the series with Lightning captain Steven Stamkos being on the shelf for six of the games while recovering from surgery.

Metropolitan Division +180

Pittsburgh is the favorite to win the division but the Washington Capitals are hot on their heels at +195. Unless the New York Rangers can get their act together, this will likely be a two-team race. Since the new division realignment three seasons ago, the Pens, Rangers and Caps have all won the Metropolitan, while they each have a second-place finish as well.

Since Sidney Crosby entered the NHL in 2005, the Penguins have won their division three times. Of note regarding their stiffest competition in the division, the Capitals have won their division six times since Alex Ovechkin entered the league in 2005.

Point total OVER/UNDER 103.5

Only two teams have a higher OVER/UNDER point total than the Pens — Tampa Bay (105.5) and Washington (106.5). Both sides of this bet come in at -115. Not including the strike-shortened season of 2012-13, Pittsburgh has gone over 103.5 points in four of the last five full seasons. Taking that into account and also considering how dominant they were during their Cup run, the OVER looks like a good bet.

2016 Pittsburgh Penguins Futures Odds
MarketOdds
Stanley Cup+1000
Eastern Conference+400
Metropolitan+180
Point Total103.5

Odds as of October 3 at Bovada

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