Early rust. The rest was a rout.
After falling behind the St. Louis Blues 2-0 in the opening 21 minutes of Monday night’s series opener in the Stanley Cup Finals, the extremely well-rested Boston Bruins regained their dominant form that crushed the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes in the prior two rounds.
Boston outshot St. Louis 18-3 in the second period Monday night, 38-20 for the game. Here’s a quick look at key indicator stats compiled by hockey analytics website Natural Stat Trick:
High-Danger Scoring Chances: Boston 10, St. Louis 3. The Blues built their early lead out of virtual vapor, tallying twice despite taking the worst in flow of play. Boston would lead this stat 8-1 after two periods in what was a 2-2 tie at the time. St. Louis picked up a couple of very late chances after pulling its goalie. (The Bruins had one-sided category wins of 17-4 and 12-3 in the Carolina series.)
Expected Goals: Boston 3.83, St. Louis 1.24. It’s hard to be that dominant in a hockey playoff game, particularly when both teams are healthy and fresh. Consistent with the control Boston showed the past few weeks, the Bruins created chances and cashed them in. Their opponent had trouble putting anything together. With all the media chatter about Tuukka Rask being a “hot goalie,” Boston’s been pretty hot on the other 190 feet of the rink as well.
Another byproduct of Boston’s aggression, the Bruins procured more power plays. They scored on one of five chances, compared to zero of two for St. Louis. This after a 7-1 edge over the Hurricanes in power play goals in the Eastern semifinals.
In betting markets, a late-Monday surge of interest in the favorite saw Boston rise from the -155/-160 range all the way up to as high as -175 or -180. Generally speaking, recreational bettors prefer backing favorites because it’s more fun to root for the superior team. After early nerves, “squares” had a lot of fun!
Traditionally, the market would expect to see “zig zag” interest on St. Louis in Wednesday’s rematch. The theory goes…the 1-0 series leader lets down with a lead, while the trailer makes adjustments and brings peak intensity.
It has been awhile since Boston zig-zagged. Riding an eight-game winning streak, the red-hot Bruins may discourage old-school betting approaches. In that stretch, Boston leads scoreboard 32-11 without having been favored as high as -190 a single time.
First numbers up at the Westgate in Las Vegas late Monday night for Game 2 showed the Bruins favored at -160 (risk $160 to win $100, or anything in that ratio). St. Louis returned plus 145 (risk $100 to win $145).
There are no sure things in the hockey playoffs. But the Bruins have clearly been in championship form for a few weeks. St. Louis needs to quickly come up with a plan to at least slow down Bear Force One.