Despite back-to-back underdog wins, Stanley Cup Final upsets are few and far between

By Andy MacNeil  ( 

September 16, 2020 11:13 PM

In sports like football and basketball, the point spread is used to level the playing field and make both sides of game attractive to the betting public. It’s a lot easier to attract action on both sides of a game if it’s -110 each way than it is if there’s heavy chalk involved. 

The betting public’s penchant for looking for 50/50 propositions is evident in their approach to hockey betting. Novice bettors often seek to back short favorites or underdogs with long odds. Rarely will a novice bettor lay a price with a heavy favorite in a hockey game. Instead, they’ll opt to take the dog.

Strategically, that’s probably not a bad idea, especially if we’re talking about regular season hockey. However, the Stanley Cup Final is a little different. All of the attention is on the two teams competing for La Coupe Stanley. Looking back at the sports odds history shows us that series prices are pretty accurate and upsets are hard to come by. Since 2005-06, only four underdog teams have won the Stanley Cup.

Pittsburgh Penguins 2009 (plus-130 / 42 percent chance)

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins battled for the Stanley Cup in 2008 with the Red Wings winning in six games as -160 favorites. The two teams met again in 2009 and this time the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby, emerged victorious after entering the series as plus-130 underdogs. It was all capped off by a buzzer-beating Marc Andre Fleury save in Game 7.

Boston Bruins 2011 (plus-200 / 32 percent chance)

A Canadian team hasn’t hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup since 1993. The Vancouver Canucks reached the Final in 2011 but the country was not behind them. In a weird turn of events, the Boston Bruins became Canada’s team that year, and defeated the Canucks in seven games after carrying a plus-200 price tag into the series. 

Washington Capitals 2018 (plus-135 / 41 percent chance)

In 2018, the Vegas Golden Knights took the sports world by storm with their improbable run to the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, Alexander Ovechkin was also getting his first shot to lead his Washington Capitals to a championship victory and he was not to be denied. The Capitals won the series in five games and Ovechkin was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. 

St. Louis Blues 2019 (plus-140 / 40.5 percent chance)

When the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins as plus-150 underdogs in Game 7 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, it ended a 52-year championship drought for the Blues which was the longest wait for a first title in NHL history. The Blues (who were plus-130 series underdogs) completed what was a comeback for the ages after sitting in last place at the midway point of the regular season.

For bettors, the main takeaway from all of this should be that prices are typically sharper at this point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Since 2005-06, which is about the same time modern hockey statistics started to influence betting markets, the average price of the favorite in the Stanley Cup Final has been about -135, implying a 57 win rate. In reality, however, the favorite has come away the win over 70 percent of the time. 

back to news



View All
  • Wednesday Line Moves for UFC Fight Island 8

    Wednesday Line Moves for UFC Fight Island 8

    Happy Wednesday! Today we have a loaded betting menu featuring 30-plus  college basketball games, 10 NBA games and 5 NHL games. For an updated breakdown...
  • Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Magny should shine in Fight Island 8

    Wednesday’s UFC event begins at 6 a.m. Pacific Time, so the theme might as well be Beatdowns and Bagels. Max Holloway dominated Calvin Kattar...
  • Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Watch bombers in Palm Springs event

    Kevin Na shot 61-65 on the weekend to win the Sony Open in Hawaii at as high as 80-1 odds. Na (40-1) will attempt to win in back-to-back weeks this week...
  • Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Schedule critical in CBB futures bets

    Last week we discussed the importance of taking a positive approach to college basketball futures betting. That is, focus on playing plus numbers instead...
  • First impressions as hockey returns

    First impressions as hockey returns

    It’s great to have hockey back, but bettors must temper their expectations and trust their preseason projections. Therefore, this is a great time...
  • Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    Tuley's Takes on Championship Sunday

    The NFL’s divisional playoff round was a mixed bag for us here at the Tuley’s Takes home office, though I spent Saturday at Circa with VSiN...
  • Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    Injuries dog Chiefs, but Packers on roll

    And then there were four. We’re looking forward to what is maybe the single best day on the NFL calendar: Championship Sunday. The matchups are...
  • Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    Championship Sunday: Sifting recent trends

    For as different as this NFL season has been due to the impact of COVID-19, the first two weeks of the playoffs have generally followed the trends of...
  • How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    How to gain edge betting CBB rematches

    (To view the charts with this report, subscribe to Point Spread Weekly) In a typical college basketball season, and to a lesser degree this season,...
  • Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    Mahomes mystery puts oddsmakers in bind

    It’s generally easy for oddsmakers to post lines on most NFL games. The numbers are typically airtight, unlike in college football. A quarterback...
  • Championship Sunday capsules

    Championship Sunday capsules

    NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME Buccaneers at Packers (3:05 p.m. ET Sunday) The Packers opened as consensus four-point home favorites against the...
  • With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    With Pacers surging, Clippers on long haul

    Another week gone, and bettors have yet to see any NBA team separate itself from the pack. The Los Angeles Lakers seem like the surest thing on the board,...

Google Play
App Store