Stanley Cup Game 1 Betting Notes: The Bruins Deserved Series-Opening Win

Stanley Cup Game 1 Betting Notes: The Bruins Deserved Series-Opening Win article feature image

Bob DeChiara, USA Today Sports.

  • The Bruins, who closed as -175 favorites for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup, were deserved winners on Monday night.
  • Michael Leboff breaks down the box score and talks about how bettors may react to a comprehensive win by the popular favorite.

A good habit for bettors to get into is to go through boxscores after games to see if final score honestly reflected how the game played out.

For example, if the Bruins defeated the Blues, 5-1, but scored two power play goals and an empty netter, there’s a chance the game was a lot closer than the final score suggests.

While most casual bettors will react to the Bruins “beating up” on the Blues and jump at the chance to bet on the Bruins in the next game, there’s probably more to the story if you look under the hood.

There’s a couple of predictive stats that can help us get a better feel for how a game truly played out.

Corsi (also known as Shot Share) – A metric that measures how many shots each team attempted (shots on goal + shots that missed the net/were blocked) in a game. If Boston attempts 55 shot attempts and gives up 45, they would have a 55% Corsi For (CF%). A team with a higher CF% generally has the puck more often than its opponent.

Expected goals (xG) – The number of goals a team or player would be expected to score based on the quality and quantity of shots taken.

High-danger scoring chances – The number of high-quality scoring chances a team generates compared to its opponents. For example, shots from the slot, shots off a rebound and deflected shots are more dangerous than a wrist-shot from the point with nobody in front of the net.

Goaltending – One of the hardest positions to project in sport. If a goaltender has a great game he is capable of winning it on his own. For instance, if Jordan Binnington stops 45 of 46 shots and the Blues win, 2-1, they probably didn’t play well but won thanks to Binnington stealing the game.

Let’s examine what happened in Game 1 and see if we can find some early value by beating the market in Game 2.

Game 1 Betting Notes

Despite a sluggish start and falling behind by two goals, the Boston Bruins were deserved winners on Monday night.

The first period was pretty even but the Blues ended the first stanza up, 1-0, thanks to an opportunistic goal by Brayden Schenn. The Blues doubled their lead quickly in the second. Vladimir Tarasenko potted home a pass from Schenn who jumped on a turnover by David Pastrnak.

After that goal the Bruins were shot out of a cannon and dominated the rest of the period. Over the course of 20 minutes the B’s generated six high-danger chances (four at 5-on-5) and allowed none.

Boston was aided by a pair of power plays in the second, but it was a dominant period for the home team. At the end of 40 minutes the Bruins had created 0.99 xGF at 5-on-5 and 2.01 xGF at all situations compared to just 0.44 and 0.52, respectively, for the Blues.

St. Louis had goaltender Jordan Binnington to thank for keeping it in the game. By the end of the second, the 25-year-old rookie had faced 26 shots, including 12 from the slot, and only allowed two goals.

It felt like the third goal was a matter of time for the Bruins and it came thanks to a neutral zone turnover by Joel Edmundson that caught a couple of tired Blues running around. A shot from Zdeno Chara was spilled by Binnington and Sean Kuraly put it home to give the B’s a 3-2 lead.

It was a deserved lead for the Bruins who did what they do best and kept the Blues from threatening their only lead of the game.

At the end of the game, the Bruins outplayed the Blues by basically every metric, including the only one that matters. Boston ended up controlling 56% of the shot share and 73% of the expected goals — Boston generated 1.73 xG at 5-on-5 compared to 0.64 for the Blues.

This is what it looks like when the right team wins.

What Does This Mean for Game 2?

The Bruins closed as consensus -175 favorites with the Blues coming back at +155 for Game 1. For much of Monday, the Bruins were close to -150/-155 but some late money pushed the Bruins to -180 at some shops.

I thought the Blues were a fine bet at anything above +130 but had a feeling that the Bruins would end up attracting more action as the game got closer.

I expect the betting activity for Game 2 to be similar in numbers to Game 1 but the pattern to be different. The Westgate opened the line for Wednesday night with Boston as -160 favorites and St. Louis at +145.

Usually a performance like the one we just witnessed from the Bruins, who attracted 63% of the bets for Game 1 according to Sports Insights, would cause their price to inflate for Game 2. However, an injury to top-pair defensman Zdeno Chara will probably cause would-be Boston backers to pump the brakes.

If the Blues end up getting close to where they closed on Monday night, it would be a good idea to hop on. They may not have looked great in the series opener, but it’s only one game and recreational bettors are all about what have you done for me lately? That could end up creating good value on the visitors for Wednesday night.

Chara’s injury does create some volatility, but I’d be shocked if the Blues shorten much before the puck drops on Wednesday night. That means if you want to bet Boston to win, you’re better off doing it sooner rather than later and if you think the Blues are the right side, practice some patience.