NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs: Betting The Finals Matchup
by Matt Severance - 4/13/2010
When perusing through Bodog’s numerous NHL prop odds for the Stanley Cup Finals, one things certainly stuck out: if the Red Wings and Penguins meet for Lord Stanley’s Cup for the third year in a row, that pays out 18/1 if you get your money down now.
That is pretty darn good value.
It’s obviously easy to see why the oddsmakers don’t expect another Pens-Wings series. Pittsburgh, which opened this season as the betting favorite, is just the fourth seed in the East, while Detroit – it opened as the second-favorite behind the Penguins – is just No. 5 in the East. But remember that Pittsburgh was a No. 4 last year and Detroit was a No. 2. Plus Detroit is 16-3-2 since the Olympic break ended, which is tops in the NHL.
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One bad trend for a Pens/Wings rematch, however: The same two teams haven’t met in three Cup Finals in a row since Detroit and Montreal met in 1954-56.
Betting on any Finals combination involving either of the two No. 1 seeds – Washington and San Jose – seems like poor value. An eighth seed has beaten a top seed eight times since 1994. The Anaheim Ducks did it to those same Sharks last year, and San Jose has a history of choking come playoff time. Other No. 8 over No. 1 upsets were Edmonton over Detroit Red Wings (2006), Montreal over Boston (2002), San Jose over St. Louis (2000), Pittsburgh over New Jersey (1999), Ottawa over New Jersey (1998), NY Rangers over Quebec (1995) and San Jose over Detroit (1994). An eight over a one rarely happens in the NBA, but in the NHL one player or a hot goalie can win a series by himself with little trouble.
Also one thing to consider: only the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings won both the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the past six seasons. So that’s a bad trend for Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
And what other goalie would you trust more than Martin Brodeur in the playoffs? Sure, the future Hall of Famer was benched by Team Canada in the Olympics, but Brodeur still led the NHL in wins and shutouts this season. New Jersey allowed the fewest goals in the league and the second-fewest shots. Defense wins championship in hockey. Plus, Brodeur actually has a better save percentage in the playoffs (.920) than during the regular season (.914). Only Brodeur and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury have won Stanley Cups among the current starting goaltenders still playing.
The goalie who made the most noise in the Olympics certainly was the Sabres’ Ryan Miller, who should win the Vezina Trophy this year. But my one concern with Miller is he played a ton of minutes because he didn’t have a super backup. And I’m not exactly sure Buffalo even beats Boston, which won four of six meetings this year. The Sabres scored a grand total of 11 goals against the Bruins this season.
So with all that written, here are what I believe to be the three best value bets in predicting the Cup Finalists:
New Jersey vs. Detroit: 30/1
New Jersey vs. San Jose: 20/1
Pittsburgh vs. Detroit: 18/1
If you are wondering, the Devils were a whopping 6-0 against Pittsburgh during the regular season. In those six games, the Devils outscored Pittsburgh, 22-5.
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