Now that Game 1 is in the books, and Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau can collectively breathe a sigh of relief for making it through, it’s time to make some knee-jerk reactions based off what we saw in Pittsburgh on Monday night.
From the opening face-off, the Penguins appeared very comfortable. The leadership from guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang (all on the 2009 Stanley Cup champion Penguins) was evident, and allowed Pittsburgh to jump out to a two-goal lead in the first period. San Jose finally showed signs of life in the second when Tomas Hertl netted the game’s only power play goal, putting the Sharks on the board. The visitors would go onto tie the game, but Pittsburgh took the lead back late in the third on a defensive miscue by San Jose defenseman Paul Martin.
What we saw Monday was exactly what I had expected: the Sharks came out very timid. They were somewhat able to get their legs underneath them as the game wore on, but the Penguins were able to protect home-ice … for now. For this reason, you won’t see too many major alterations in the new odds. The Pens were slight favorites coming in; they’re slightly bigger favorites now.
Here is my full breakdown of how the odds have shifted after Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Before Game 1:
After Game 1:
Pittsburgh did exactly what they were supposed to do in Steeltown on Monday night: win at home. With the poor showing by the Sharks, I am simply not ready to dramatically sway the odds in the Penguins’ favor. The fact that it was only a one-goal game should be more alarming to Sidney Crosby and company. San Jose has now gotten Game 1 out of the way, and I expect to see a much better showing from them on Wednesday night.
4 Games: 15/1
5 Games: 10/1
6 Games: 6/5
7 Games: 3/2
The one goal margin in Game 1 proved that this matchup may be just as close as we expected. However, no Stanley Cup final has gone the distance since 2011 (sorry Vancouver). Since 1939, when it was changed to a best-of-seven, only 16 of 77 series have needed all seven games. Should it end in six, San Jose would be hoping that they are the ones taking that iconic victory lap with the Cup in front of their home crowd.
Phil Kessel: 6/1
Logan Couture: 13/2
Joe Pavelski: 7/1
Sidney Crosby: 7/1
Brent Burns: 8/1
Kris Letang: 17/2
Nick Bonino: 9/1
Joe Thornton: 19/2
Matt Murray: 11/1
Patrick Marleau: 16/1
Evgeni Malkin: 35/2
Bryan Rust: 18/1
Martin Jones: 22/1
Carl Hagelin: 25/1
James Reimer: 100/1
Despite Phil Kessel not contributing at all on the score sheet in Game 1, he remains the favorite for the Conn Smythe trophy. He has played too big of a role for the Penguins to this point, and it’ll take a couple more scoreless games (or more huge goals from Nick Bonino) for “Phil the Thrill” to get edged out should Pittsburgh come out victorious.
Looking to San Jose, Brent Burns’ performance in the series-opener has him moving on up my list. Not only did he log more ice-time than anyone else on his team, but he also helped setup both goals. However, Couture came into Monday night as the playoff points leader and was able to add to that already impressive total. For this reason, he remains my favorite should the Sharks take control of the series.
James Reimer makes an appearance just in case the Sharks find themselves down 2-0 and head coach Peter DeBoer decides to shake things up. Martin Jones has been solid thus far, but I’ve seen crazier things happen – please don’t ask me what.
Joe Thornton: 5/3
Phil Kessel: 5/1
Patrick Marleau: 8/1
Evgeni Malkin: 17/2
Chris Kunitz: 12/1
Matt Murray: 15/1
Matt Cullen: 25/1
Joel Ward: 50/1
Dainius Zubrus: 50/1
Logan Couture: 50/1
If the Sharks are able to scratch their name onto Lord Stanley, it wouldn’t surprise me if Captain Joe Pavelski doesn’t even hoist the cup. There is no doubt in my mind that Joe Thornton will at least be handed the cup he’s been chasing for 19 seasons immediately after, especially considering he wore the “C” from 2010-2014. The only other option would be Jumbo Joe’s sidekick, Patrick Marleau, who also formerly captained the Sharks.
Looking to the Penguins, it is a little more of a toss-up. After what Phil Kessel went through in Toronto, along with his performance thus far, he is the ideal candidate to receive the cup from Sidney Crosby. But he’s not the shoo-in that Thornton is.
If Patrick Marleau is not getting suspended for the hit on Bryan Rust, then it is going to take something quite malicious to warrant a suspension. The last thing the league wants to do is play a role in the outcome of this series. Not to mention, neither of these teams are known for being dirty, nor would they be dumb enough to risk a suspension in an attempt to retaliate.
I see at least one player retiring regardless of the outcome. Penguins forward Matt Cullen and Sharks forward Dainius Zubrus are the prime candidates. Cullen will turn 40 years old this November, and Zubrus will be 38 in a couple of weeks. Neither has much left to offer, and I’m sure a Stanley Cup championship would be more than enough to help with their decision.
What should also be considered is the possibility of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau wanting to retire on top. The two are only separated in age by a couple months, and will both turn 37 later this year. This would be the perfect opportunity for the two to ride off into the sunset on their own terms.
Although I have yet to come up with an accurate formula to measure the weight of a beard, I figure Joe Thornton and Brent Burns might have a combined pound on their faces. I figure the other 40-plus players can at least account for another 6 ounces. The big question is whether Sidney Crosby decides to get rid of the man-bush he has on his face. Will someone give this kid some tips on how to grow facial hair already?!
(Photo credit: Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)
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