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How to Bet the Stanley Cup Finals: Boston Bruins vs St Louis Blues

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko.
Vladimir Tarasenko and the St. Louis Blues are sizable underdogs in the 2019 Stanley Cup finals versus the Boston Bruins. Photo by Jennifer Griggs (flickr) [CC License].
  • The Blues and Bruins will meet in the 2019 Stanley Cup finals, starting on May 27th
  • There are myriad different ways for bettors to wager on the series
  • From the Cup champion to individual game totals, I’ll run through the basic betting options and provide some stats and trends for the specific teams

With the 2019 Stanley Cup finals matchup between the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins set, bettors will now see a range of wagering options at their sportsbook of choice.

Below, I will run down the various ways you can wager on this year’s Cup final, note a few interesting stats and trends for the Bruins and Blues, and give my, let’s say “expert,” opinion on the best bets.

NB: the odds displayed below are from Wednesday, May 22nd. 

Bet the Series Price

Team Odds to win the Stanley Cup at BetOnline
St. Louis Blues +146
Boston Bruins -166

The first bet I’ll cover is the most basic for new bettors looking to wager on the series as a whole: it’s called the “series price” and it simply means picking which team will win the best-of-seven.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a four-game sweep or a seven-game nail-biter: if you bet on the team that ultimately lifts the cup, you win.

The odds for the 2019 final favor the Bruins (-166) over the Blues (+146). That’s largely because of home-ice advantage. The Bruins have had the luxury of home-ice in every series they’ve played so far, while the Blues started on the road against both Winnipeg (round one) and San Jose (round three).

Boston has been favored in all three rounds they’ve played, but this is the shortest they have been in the 2019 playoffs.

In this case, the -166 odds for the Bruins mean you will win $100 on a $166 wager. The +145 odds on the Blues mean you will win $146 on a $100 bet. (See our “Moneyline Explained” guide if you’re unclear on how to read these odds.)

Boston has been favored in all three rounds they’ve played, but this is the shortest they have been in the 2019 playoffs; they were -145 favorites vs Toronto in round one, -140 favorites vs Columbus in round two, and -145 favorites vs Carolina in round three.

The Blues were -125 favorites vs Winnipeg and -160 favorites vs Dallas, but slight +110 underdogs vs San Jose in the Western Conference finals.

Sascha’s Pick: The Bruins deserve to be favored, but I see value on the Blues at +146. For that bet to be a smart play, the Blues only need to win 41% of the time.

This is a deep St. Louis team that was 7th in Fenwick %, 5th in High Danger Chances %, and split two games with the Bruins in the regular season. Boston was 5th in Fenwick % and 14th in HDC%. Unless rookie goalie Jordan Binnington falls apart in the Blues’ net, there is little separating these teams.

Bet the Moneyline in Each Game

Team Odds to win Game 1 at BetOnline
St. Louis Blues +142
Boston Bruins -157

The next bet is likely the first wager you will see on the betting menu at your sportsbook: it’s the moneyline for Game 1 (or whichever game is next in the series). It’s equally as simple to understand as the series price, but it only involves picking the winner of a single game.

As you can see from the odds table, above, the odds to win Game 1 are very similar to the series price. This is quite common for best-of-sevens with a 2-2-1-1-1 format. The Bruins are -157 favorites, meaning oddsmakers/bettors believe they are a little more likely to lose Game 1 than the series as a whole.

Note that this is a two-way moneyline, meaning that it includes OT. Most sportsbooks will have a three-way moneyline available, as well, which involves predicting the outcome at the end of 60 minutes, either (a) Bruins win, (b) Blues win, or (c) tie game. The two-way moneyline includes whatever happens in OT, so there’s no possibility of a tie.

Note that [the table above displays] a two-way moneyline, meaning that it includes OT.

Both teams were well above .500 in the regular season against the moneyline: Boston was 49-33 (including their nine OT and shootout losses), while St. Louis was 45-37. But remember that both teams were favored in a majority of their games, especially Boston. Having a 49-33 record doesn’t necessarily mean betting Boston in all 82 games would have led to a massive profit.

It all depends on the average payout. Since they had a 60% win rate, the average moneyline would have to be -150 or longer (“longer” meaning closer to even) to be profitable.

Sascha’s Pick: I’m taking St. Louis to pull the upset in Game 1. The Blues will have had four days’ rest, long enough to recover from a tough run through the Western Conference. The Bruins, on the other hand, will have been off for 11 days.

Since the NHL implemented “bye weeks” during the regular season (2016-17), teams playing their first game back have been a little out of sync.

The Bruins’ first game against the Blue Jackets in round two was a good example of this effect. The Jackets had been off for nine days after sweeping the Lightning in round one. They were outshot 37-22 in Game 1 (a 3-2 OT win for the Bruins), the most lopsided shot differential in the entire series. The shots over six games, combined, were almost even (216-212).

The Bruins, specifically, haven’t suffered any ill-effects from their regular-season bye weeks over the last three years (2-0-1 record), but they are human and the difficulty in returning at full speed after an 11-day hiatus is proven.

Bet the Puckline in Each Game

Team Game 1 Puckline Odds at Bovada
St. Louis Blues +1.5 (-200)
Boston Bruins -1.5 (+170)

The puckline is hockey’s version of a point spread. The favorite will be listed at -1.5 and must win by two goals or more to cash. The underdog will be listed at +1.5 and can lose by a single goal or win outright to cash. Since you’re getting the benefit of that extra goal with the underdog, the payout is commensurately decreased.

The puckline for Game 1 of the 2019 finals has Boston -1.5 at +170, while the Blues +1.5 is a short -200.

Note that, on most sites, you will be able to bet on an “alternate puckline” as well. Bovada has St. Louis -1.5 at +380 and Boston +1.5 at -500.

Betting the underdog on the puckline had been a windfall in St. Louis games: seven of its first nine were decided by a single goal. But that trend has reversed of late: six of the last ten have been multi-goal decisions, and the average margin of victory over that span is 2.3 GPG.

Boston has tended to win big and lose narrowly in the playoffs. Nine of Boston’s 12 wins have come by two goals or more, but only one of five losses was by more than a goal, and that came in the very first game of the playoffs (4-1 vs Toronto).

Sascha’s Pick:I’m not keen to play either side of the puckline in Game 1 since I expect a sluggish start from the B’s. But if St. Louis does steal Game 1, I would strongly consider Boston -1.5 in Game 2.

Bet the Total in Each Game

Team Game 1 Total at BetOnline
St. Louis Blues O 5.5 (+115)
Boston Bruins U 5.5 (-135)

The next type of bet is the total, also known as the over/under. It involves picking the total number of goals scored in the game, again including overtime. The total for Game 1 is 5.5, with the under favored at -135.

If the teams combine for six goals or more, the over wins. If the teams combine for five goals or fewer, the under wins. Sometimes, the total will be a whole number like 5.0 or 6.0, which creates the possibility of a “push” (betting lingo for a tie). All bets are refunded in the event of a push.

Just like with the puckline, you will be able to bet on alternate totals at most sites, so even though the first O/U on the board is 5.5, if you dive deeper into Bovada‘s menu, you will find 4.5 (o -260/u +195), 6.5 (o +165/u -220), and 7.5 (o +395/u -600).

Tuukka Rask … leads the playoffs with a  .942 SV% and 13.64 Goals Saved Above Average, which is 6.4 higher than the  next-best goalie (Ben Bishop).

Sascha’s Pick: I’ll take the under here. Tuukka Rask is playing phenomenally. He leads the playoffs with a  .942 SV% and 13.64 Goals Saved Above Average, which is 6.4 goals better than the next-best goalie (Ben Bishop).

Even if the team in front of him is lethargic, I don’t see Rask getting a sunburn from the red light. The real concern with the under is the potential for rookie Binnington to blow up under the bright lights. But he was stellar to close out the San Jose series, stopping 75 of 77 shots in the final three games.

Bet the Exact Series Outcome

Team Exact Series Outcome Odds at Bookmaker
St. Louis Blues in 4 +2000
Boston Bruins in 4 +1000
St. Louis Blues in 5 +1000
Boston Bruins in 5 +400
St. Louis Blues in 6 +500
Boston Bruins in 6 +450
St. Louis Blues in 7 +600
Boston Bruins in 7 +350

The last bet I’ll cover is the exact series outcome. To win this wager, you not only have to pick the winner of the series, you have to get the number of games correct, as well. If you are wrong on either, you lose. But if you’re right on both, there could be a substantial payout coming your way.

The Bruins’ series have been getting shorter and shorter; they beat the Leafs in seven, the Jackets in six, and swept the Hurricanes in four.

The Blues went six games with the Jets, seven with the Stars, and another six with the Sharks.

Sascha’s Pick: I don’t have a strong opinion on the number of games in this series. I think a seven-game series is most likely, but I don’t like the minimal value on Boston-in-7 at +350, and I really don’t like betting against Boston in a potential Game 7 on home ice.

That said, if you’re like me and see this series going the distance, you could put a little money on St. Louis in seven games at +600 and then hedge out of it if the series indeed reaches a seventh game. The Bruins will be about -150 favorites if/when Game 7 rolls around, so you would be able to lock in a decent profit at that point.

Other Bet Types

As much as I would like to give you an exhaustive  rundown of the Stanley Cup betting options, I’m on a word limit, and I passed it about two sections ago.

The major bet type that I haven’t covered is player props, the bread and butter of the DFS (daily fantasy sports) crowd.

The number and type of player props available will vary greatly from sportsbook to sportsbook, but you won’t have to dig too hard to find things like:

  • Over/Under points for star players, like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Vladimir Tarasenko
  • Head-to-head points for star players (e.g. who will have more points in Game 1: David Pastrnak vs Jaden Schwartz)
  • Will Tuukka Rask/Jordan Binnington record a shutout in the series/Game 1?

Before betting on anything, though, remember to do your research, and never under any circumstances wager more than you can afford to lose. There is no such thing as a sure thing.

 

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