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Capitals turn Vegas tickets into souvenirs

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

Washington wins the Stanley Cup! Capitals dominant in 4-1 series rout of the Vegas Golden Knights. Nevada sports books breathe a sigh of relief, finally pocketing a windfall from futures bets on the most successful expansion team of all time. Hockey, basketball, the Belmont, and “market” Power Ratings for the World Cup all today in VSiN City.

NHL Stanley Cup Final: Washington gets the silver as backers get the cash

Washington was the betting underdog in this matchup…yet didn’t seem outmatched in a very fast-paced series opening loss...before exploding for four straight victories that registered at 16-8 on the scoreboard. The Caps turned out to be cheap favorites of -130 in two home victories. They soared up to plus 150 on the road Thursday night with so many VGK fans betting the home team in a must-win situation.

Washington (plus 150) 4, Vegas 3 

Shots: Washington 33, Vegas 31

Power Plays: Washington 1/4, Vegas 1/2

Hockey doesn’t lend itself to indicator stats in a box score because so much is hard to capture numerically about this sport. Though, winning shot count when your opponent has its backs to the wall is impressive indeed! 

In this series, the scoreboard was telling us all along that the Vegas defense had no answers for the style and intensity of Washington's attack. Here’s one final look at the scoring chart we’ve been presenting in recent days. Washington’s volume and consistency were AMAZING considering the intensity of playoff hockey. 

Versus Columbus: 3-4-3-4-4-6

Versus Pittsburgh: 2-4-4-1-6-2

Versus Tampa Bay: 4-6-2-2-2-3-4

Versus Vegas: 4-3-3-6-4

At least three goals in every game this series. We suggested earlier in the battle that the combo of “Vegas and Under” was going to be tough to pull off because Washington was creating so many great scoring chances. After Game Two, we mentioned that the Over/Under of 5.5 (which represents the likely median for future scoring) was likely low. Totals landed on 4-8-7 from that point forward (average of 6.3, median of 7). Consistent teams are the easiest to handicap.

*Washington finishes the series with a record of 4-1 for a profit of plus 3.8 betting units because of two underdog cashes. The Caps obviously collected series bets too, in the area of plus 130 depending on the locale. 

*Prior to the playoffs, Washington had been 14/1 to lift the Cup, ranking fourth in the East behind Tampa Bay at 5/1, Pittsburgh at 6/1, and Boston at 9/1. (Nashville at 4/1, Winnipeg at 8/1, and Vegas at 9/1 were seen as superiors from the West.)

*Over/Unders in the series go 3-2 to the Over.

*If you bet Vegas every game in the Finals, you went 1-4 for a loss of -4.2 units. If you bet Vegas to win the series initially, also painful. Futures bets to win the Western Conference cashed a couple of weeks ago, but futures bets to win the Stanley Cup can be kept as souvenirs from what was still a very memorable season. 

That wraps up our hockey coverage until next season begins. Will Golden State soon wrap up our NBA coverage? 

NBA Finals: Golden State down to -4.5 or -5 in Friday’s Game 4, after opening -5.5 

Not much we can provide in terms of new insights in the 2018 NBA Finals matching the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State seems capable of winning at three-quarter speed unless LeBron James has another historic outing, or the Warriors sleepwalk with such a big series lead. That’s happened at least once on the road in every prior series this postseason. 

In the markets, an opener of Golden State -5.5 has come down. Sharps have taken underdog Cleveland at plus 5 or better. Golden State money hasn’t shown yet. Many expected it too in the hours leading up to Game 3, only to see a surprising fall further down to Warriors -3. Watch VSiN programming all day Friday for the latest from sports books across Las Vegas (and in-person updates from the South Point brain trust).

The Over/Under is currently 215.5 after opening at 216.

VSiN City is a weekday publication, so we’ll run the numbers from this game in our Monday report. Should Cleveland spring the upset and extend the series, Game 5 is scheduled for Monday night at Oracle Arena. That allows two days for travel across time zones. So, we’ll be talking basketball for sure on Monday, possibly A LOT of basketball. 

Belmont Week: Watch VSiN’s preview show on TVG!

By the time you read this, the first presentation of our Belmont preview show hosted by Brent Musburger will have already aired early Friday morning on TVG and TVG2. Be sure to set your DVR for Saturday morning’s replay so you can hear from our experts before making your final race day decisions. 

If you live in the East, that’s scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET. Here in Las Vegas or anywhere on the West Coast, the show airs at 4:30 a.m. PT. Get up early and watch during breakfast, or record it and watch during lunch!

Or watch it on YouTube.

More from Ron Flatter today on the scene in New York for live shots on our shows. If you missed Ron’s Thursday article, please click here to read it. Also, a fresh Belmont-themed podcast will go up Friday. Click here to go to the podcast home page so you can listen once it’s available. Guests will include Todd Pletcher and Britney Eurton. 

And, one final reminder to purchase our digital Belmont preview publication for just $19.99. Subscribers to Point Spread Weekly have already received it at no charge. If you’re not yet a subscriber, take care of that now for a calendar year at $149.99…and the Belmont preview will automatically be included in your purchase. Informed bettors are winning bettors!

World Cup: We debut our estimated “market” Power Ratings for la Copa Mundial 2018

With hockey definitely over, and basketball possibly over before the weekend, you’ll have plenty of time to do prep work for soccer’s World Cup that begins next week in Russia. We spent some time this week canvassing global betting markets for betting lines that would help us create an estimate of “market” Power Ratings similar to what we use for football and basketball. We’re now ready unveil an early look by way of a “goal supremacy” chart. 

Instead of points, the numbers you see below are on a scale of goals. At this level, fractions separate many of the teams from each other. It’s like baseball in that sense. Money lines must be used instead of a “point spread.” One team can be better than another, but not good enough to be “minus one goal” on a betting line. 

We’ve done our best to convert all the money lines into fractional goal differentials…using material from two or three games per team because European markets have already posted early lines for that deep into the event. 

We start with a look at the global powers most likely to contend for the world championship. 

Top Contenders

2.7: Germany and Brazil

2.5: France

2.4: Spain and Argentina

2.3: Belgium

2.1: England

2.0: Portugal 

Those were the top eight teams in futures prices from the South Point that we posted earlier this week. What that chart means is that Germany or Brazil would be favored by about 0.2 goals over France, 0.3 over either Spain or Argentina, a little over half a goal over England or Portugal. 

There are two head-to-head matchups in group play featuring members of that octet. Spain is currently favored by about 0.4 goals over Portugal, Belgium by about 0.2 goals over England.

Those obviously could (and will) change through the event based on performances. Maybe one of the top five shows surprising vulnerability. Maybe Belgium or England shows they should be taken more seriously as championship material. For now, that’s a pretty good representation of how they space out according to advance market pricing. 

Now, let’s do it by groups. Host Russia was gifted a friendly group without any superpowers.

Group A: Uruguay 1.9, Russia 1.5, Egypt 1.1, Saudi Arabia 0.3

That 1.5 for Russia already acknowledges “home field advantage.” The team would rank even lower at a different site (had it qualified). Russia is favored by about 1.2 goals over Saudi Arabia in the event opener next week. Uruguay is favored by 0.8 over Egypt the next day. Right now, Uruguay is favored by 0.4 goals over Russia when those teams meet in each’s third go-round. 

It’s a toss-up in the media whether Saudi Arabia or Panama (Group G) is the worst team in the whole tournament. (Looks like the South Point had some betting action from the Middle East, as the Saudi entry moved from 300/1 to 100/1.). The market has both Saudi Arabia and Panama about half a goal below the other long shots in the full field, and more than two goals behind global powers. 

Group B: Spain 2.4, Portugal 2.0, Morocco 1.1. Iran 0.9

The Iberian rivals open with each other unfortunately, which might lead to safe, timid play with less potent opponents waiting. There have been some interesting media preview stories about both Morocco and Iran. The market doesn’t consider them knockout round material.  Each will have a chance to make headlines if taken lightly.

Group C: France 2.5, Denmark 1.7, Peru 1.4, Australia 1.0

Either Denmark or Peru will advance. Both seem capable of playing better than the market is currently allowing for. The bad news for the survivor…the second-place finisher here will likely draw Argentina in the Round of 16.

Group D: Argentina 2.4, Croatia 1.9, Nigeria 1.3, Iceland 1.2

As of now, no great African sleepers seem to be lying in wait. Senegal (Group H) is the top representative at just 1.5. Nigeria will try to play spoiler here from an estimate of 1.3 on our scale. Croatia has a chance to develop into a more serious threat from the “tweener” zone. Barring surprises, the Croatians will play France in the Round of 16.

Group E: Brazil 2.7, Switzerland 1.5, Serbia 1.4, Costa Rica 1.2

Should be a cakewalk for Brazil, which has a chip on its national shoulder after the 2014 debacle. 

Group F: Germany 2.7, Mexico 1.6, Sweden 1.5, South Korea 1.2

Only fractionally tougher for Germany to start the event than co-favorite Brazil. We’ve just seen Mexico at 1.6, and Costa Rica at 1.2. That gives you a sense of where the USA would rate if it had qualified. Stars and Stripes would be about a one-goal underdog to Brazil and Spain, at least half a goal to the other elites. It’s been a long plateau in the tweener zone.

Group G: Belgium 2.3, England 2.1, Tunisia 0.8, Panama 0.3

Belgium and England finish against each other…very likely undefeated…then will be looking at slight favorite roles at first in the knockout against whoever survives Group below.

Group H: Columbia 1.9, Poland 1.7, Senegal 1.5, Japan 1.2

There’s no “Group of Death” this year. Too many traditional entries missed out (Italy, Netherlands, to a lesser degree the US…to name a few), so none of the quartets got clogged. This could be a “Group of Life” because it’s the most condensed from top to bottom (by a mile). Colombia and Poland are both 30/1 or better to win it all despite an easy pathway to the knockouts, then a break in drawing either Belgium or England in the Round of 16. Much better than staring down Germany, Brazil, France, or Argentina to start the knockouts!

We’ll talk a lot more about the World Cup next week, including an explanation of how the three-way money line works (you can bet that there will be a draw, in addition to trying to pick a winner). 

For now…enjoy Friday’s NBA Finals, Saturday’s Belmont, and a full weekend of sports betting thrills!

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