Stanley Cup Finals Betting Odds
|Boston Bruins to win the 2019 Stanley Cup||4/6||Betway|
|St. Louis Blues to win the 2019 Stanley Cup||7/5||BetHard|
It would be fair to say that the two finalists have followed quite different trajectories to reach their current coordinates. Boston were contenders right from the start, and their chances didn’t fluctuate significantly once proceedings began in early October. A steady, if not spectacular season, saw them finish as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, some distance behind the President’s Trophy winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most teams were understandably relieved and stunned to see the Lightning being inexplicably swept aside in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Bruins playoff progress has been getting gradually easier by the round, it could be argued. Their first round matchup against the Maple Leafs went the distance, ending in 4-3 Bruins series victory. Subsequent rounds have seen them dispatch of the Blue Jackets in six games and the Hurricanes in just four. The most recent of those series saw them outscore their Carolinian opponents by a total of 17-5 over the four games.
Their formidable form at both ends of the rink has the Bruins as justifiable favourites at 4/6 with Betway.
Shedding The Winter Blues
The Blues’ 2018-19 campaign, on the other hand, was very much a tale of two half-seasons. On January 2nd, with 37 games played, they found themselves bottom of the entire NHL and imminently facing a second successive season without playoff hockey. At that point of the season, their odds had swelled to an incredible 150/1.
New coach Craig Berube was able to steady the ship, however, and catapulted his side back into post-season contention with a franchise record 11-game winning streak in January and February of this year. The run was helped by the incredible form of rookie goaltender Jordan Binnington, who had the lowest Goals Against Average of any goaltender in the league with 30 or more starts. This form earned Binnington the ‘Rookie of the Month’ award in both February and March, with Berube nominated as one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams award, for being the coach “adjudged to have contributed the most to his team's success."
If you were to judge the two sides on their form since the turn of the year, it could be argued that 7/5 with BetHard is a steal for the St. Louis Blues. Their regular season form has carried into the playoffs, and having comfortably disposed of many people’s outright favourites from the beginning of the season, the San Jose Sharks, in the Western Conference finals, there is little doubt that they have a team who can put it up to their East Coast opponents.
A Good Start These Days Is Hard To Find
It goes without saying that a victory in Game One is crucial to a team’s chances of a series victory, and the numbers to back this up are overwhelming. With Boston having home-ice advantage in the series opener, statistics show that a victory on Monday evening will give them an 84% chance of winning the cup. In 57 seasons, only 9 teams have won the home opener and gone on to lose the series.
During the regular season, only Tampa Bay had a better home record than Boston. Whilst St. Louis were relatively strong on the road, the playoff atmosphere in Boston is sure to give the Bruins the slight edge in games at TD Garden. I expect them to get off to the best possible start and win Game One. For this reason, I see more appeal in backing the Bruins to win without being behind in the series, at 31/20 with William Hill, as opposed to the 4/6 outright.
Heroes… Just For One Day
One quirk of the NHL Playoffs is that best players from the regular season don’t necessarily become the heroes when the Stanley Cup Finals come to town. The top goalscorers from both sides during the regular season all lead the betting for the Series Top Goalscorer, but it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that these stars are usurped by somebody further down the betting. With between four and seven games being played, the sample size is small enough to allow for a high-priced outsider to steal the limelight.
At 18/1 with William Hill, I think that you could certainly do worse than Jake DeBrusk in this market. DeBrusk had 28 goals in the regular season in just 68 games, and is well established on a Bruins powerplay which has been producing at an outstanding rate in the playoffs thus far.
The Conn Smythe trophy, awarded to the playoff MVP, has only been bestowed upon a player from the losing side on five occasions since 1965, with the most recent such award coming in 2003. With Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask the odds-on favourite at the current time, it is worth considering that backing a strong favourite in this category does generally require the player to end up on the victorious side come early June.
Whilst it is much less likely that a rank outsider wins the Conn Smythe trophy, I can’t help but think that a big series from Patrice Bergeron will put him into contention, particularly if the Bruins leak goals at any stage and Rask’s price drifts. He leads the Bruins with 8 goals in the post-season and is 19/1 with Paddy Power.