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Why Blues-Sharks Could Come Down to NHL Playoff Experience

May 21, 2019 3:02 PM EDT

Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

  • Does experience really matter in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
  • Using Bet Labs, Evan Abrams looks at how to factor it in when betting the 2019 conference finals.

Entering the NHL Conference Finals, the St. Louis Blues and Carolina Hurricanes had very different recent histories as both franchises looked to advance to the 2019 Stanley Cup without home-ice advantage.

The Hurricanes were swept out of the playoffs by a more-experienced Bruins team after beating the Capitals in 7 games and then sweeping the Islanders.

The Canes were back in the playoffs this year for the first time since the 2008-09 season while the Blues are starting a new playoff streak, as they missed the postseason last year for the first time since 2010-11.


When it comes to Boston and San Jose, the Bruins and Sharks both made the playoffs last season but had early exits, losing in the conference semifinals.

The NHL playoffs — especially the conference finals and Stanley Cup — are decided by small margins, so assuming that playoff experience can be the deciding factor doesn’t seem that farfetched.

According to our data at Bet Labs, teams that made the playoffs the season prior have had a distinct advantage over teams that did not.

Since 2005, playoff teams from the season prior are 259-182 (58.7%) when facing non-playoff team, profiting bettors $2,875 on a $100 wager per game basis.

Where the advantage really comes into play is deep into the playoffs and when these experienced playoff teams are coming off of a loss.

In the conference finals and Stanley Cup, teams with this playoff edge are 46-27 (63%), winning by 0.8 goals per game. When those teams are listed as the favorite, they’re 32-16 (66.7%), winning by 0.9 goals per game.

When the team with the playoff advantage is coming off a loss in this spot, it has been very profitable to back them in their next game:

Even though the Sharks and Bruins have very different histories when it comes to the playoffs, both teams have been through the gambit over the last few years in the postseason, and that experience could be the difference in such a tight Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final.

Upcoming NHL Conference Finals Schedule

  • Tuesday, May 21 — Game 6: Sharks at Blues (STL leads 3-2)
  • Thursday, May 23 — Game 7: Blues at Sharks (If Necessary)
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