While it’s a natural part of survivorship bias, teams that don’t bounce back from losses don’t last long in the playoffs. Both the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins have truly been very impressive immediately after a loss throughout the 2019 NHL postseason.
Bettors should be aware of current won-lost records in that scenario…
St. Louis: 7-2
To date, that’s 1-1 vs. Winnipeg, 2-1 vs. Dallas, 2-0 vs. San Jose, and 2-0 vs. Boston. This past Monday night’s 4-2 series equalizer made it five straight bounce-back victories for the Blues. That was the second-straight time St. Louis dramatically increased aggressiveness with its backs to the wall.
Check out these stats: In its bounce back games this series, St. Louis has won total shots by a combined 75-46 (37-23 and 38-23), high danger scoring chances by a combined 24-15 (15-10 and 9-5), and expected goals by a combined 5.96 to 3.43 (data according to hockey analytics website Natural Stat Trick).
That dominance came as a medium-size underdog in Boston in Game 2, and a small home favorite in Game 4. So, we’re not talking about a juggernaut doing what it was supposed to. We’re talking about a small “net” dog playing like a juggernaut when it absolutely had to.
To date, that’s 3-0 vs. Toronto, 2-1 vs. Columbus, 0-0 in a sweep of Carolina, and 1-0 vs. St. Louis.
As VSiN discussed in our last hockey article, Boston’s bounce back in this series was a 7-2 rout in Game 3 keyed by a perfect 4/4 conversion rate on power plays. So, its aggressiveness led to drawing penalties and scoring with a man advantage rather than raw shot count.
It’s Boston’s turn in the zig zag in Thursday’s Game 5 (NBC, 8 p.m. ET). Will the Bruins once again lift their form? Oddsmakers posted openers consistent with prior pricing. The Bruins were initially favored in the -150 to -155 range in Games 1 and 2 before late money lifted the line up to -170 (risk $170 on Boston to win $100). Let’s see if game-day action does the same thing Thursday before the puck finally drops.
Odds to win the championship will stay in synch with Boston’s Game 5 price. In what is now a best two-of-three battle, Boston will be about 60/40 to win its home games. St. Louis will be about 52/48 to take Game 6 (unless bettors start riding the zig zag harder). Series simulations show the team with home ice will get to four wins first about 60% of the time from this position. Any surge (or drop) in Game 5 odds forces the same for the series.
If St. Louis can bust the trend to break serve Thursday, the Blues would then become clear series favorites with two chances to win one game.
Still plenty of directions the puck could bounce before the final horn sounds in this classic back-and-forth series.