Nothing more exciting than Game 7 of a championship series. Wednesday night, the St. Louis Blues will battle the Boston Bruins for hockey’s coveted Stanley Cup (NBC, 8 p.m. ET).
It’s been a very enjoyable series thus far for fans and bettors. Investors fond of the “zig-zag” approach are particularly happy, posting a 4-1 record by simply betting on the team that lost the prior outing.
That would point to St. Louis bouncing back off a home loss in Game 6 Sunday night. Betting markets aren’t yet respecting that angle. Boston has been laying in the vicinity of -170 on the money line (risk $170 to win $100, or anything in that ratio) at William Hill and many other sports books since late Sunday. At that price, the standard return is 150 on St. Louis (risk $100 to win $150, etc.).
The case for Boston to claim the Cup:
• Boston’s victories have been much more impressive. Final scores have been 4-2, 7-2, and 5-1, for a 16-5 total. St. Louis had to go overtime in its first win, a 3-2 nail biter, before winning by 4-2 and 2-1 tallies. That’s only a combined 9-5 edge for the Blues (8-5 in regulation).
• Boston’s playing much better defense (including goaltending as part of the defensive scheme), allowing 2-2-2-4-2-1 in regulation in this series. The Blues have only topped two goals in regulation once in six tries! Defensively, St. Louis has shown more vulnerability…allowing 4-2-7-2-1-5.
• Boston’s slightly more likely to earn power plays, and much more likely to convert them. The Bruins are 7/21 for a 33% conversion rate. St. Louis is a horrendous 1/18 for just 6%. It’s as if St. Louis doesn’t even have a power play.
The case for St. Louis as a live dog:
• Home ice hasn’t meant much of anything in this series. Visitors actually have a 4-2 record. Clearly, the high market money line is giving Boston a price boost for playing at home. Might not be justified in this intense matchup.
• St. Louis is in a bounce-back spot, where it’s thrived since getting its act together a few months ago. The Blues are a perfect 2-0 after prior losses in this series, and have won their last five playoff games in this situation. Drifting back into the regular season, St. Louis is now 16-5 in its last 21 immediately after a loss.
Given the totality of evidence regarding team skill sets on both sides of the ice, it’s easy to see why Boston is the percentage favorite to win the game. Defense wins championships! And, only one team seems capable of converting power plays.
Break-even at -170 on the money line is 63%. If you believe that’s low, your bet should be on the Bruins. If you believe the market is giving too much respect to home ice, and not enough to the Blues’ tenacity off a loss, then the dog is the value side.