NHL Stanley Cup Final Odds, Picks & Predictions: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars Game 4 (Friday, Sept. 25)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Anton Khudobin
- They're the favorites. They're coming off a blow-out win. Now they're playing on NBC in primetime.
- NHL betting analyst Michael Leboff explains why he's looking to fade the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4.
- Find out which moneyline price he's looking to bet the Dallas stars at for Friday night.
Stanley Cup Game 4: Lightning vs. Stars Odds
|Lightning Odds||-162 [BET NOW]|
|Stars Odds||+140 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5 (-127/+140) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Friday, 8 p.m. ET|
Steven Stamkos’ dramatic return to the lineup is getting the headlines after Tampa Bay’s resounding victory in Game 3. The Lightning captain scored in his first game since February to help the Bolts get within two games of the Stanley Cup. Stamkos didn’t finish the game and may not play again in this series, but the columns already had been written.
It is a nice story, and Stamkos’ teammates were quick to talk about how his presence gave them a jolt. But as a cynical, cold-hearted hockey bettor, I had no time for the warm and fuzzies — I was looking for one thing and one thing only after Game 3: An overreaction from oddsmakers after a blow-out win by the favorite.
So far, I’ve been disappointed.
Series Odds History
Bookmakers opened the Lightning at -155, but quickly adjusted to -175, where it sat for much of Thursday morning. Tampa is sitting at -159 as of 8 p.m. ET on Thursday night.
Outside of a potential Game 7, I’m expecting Game 4 to provide the biggest betting handle of the Stanley Cup Final. Not only is the game airing on NBC in primetime, but it has very little competition for eyeballs and dollars. The Stars and Lightning are going up against Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, Middle Tennessee State vs. UT-San Antonio and the MLB.
Oftentimes the NHL is playing fourth fiddle for betting attention. That won’t be the case on Friday night, and I think an influx of casual money could bloat this line, which has been sensibly consistent since the series started.
The Tampa Bay Lightning have done what was expected of them through the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bolts have won twice, had the lion’s share of the possession and posted the better expected goals rate.
You could say that the Stars have also done a pretty good job at executing their game plan. Allowing 2.54 expected goals against per 60 minutes may look ugly (Anaheim was fourth-worst in the NHL at 2.54 xGA/60 in the regular season), but the Stars are posting that number against one of the best offensive teams in the NHL, which obviously skews the number a bit.
Additionally, the Stars are forcing the Bolts to take a much more volume-based approach. They’re both creating 10.5 high-danger scoring chances per hour at 5-on-5 in this series. That tells you that Dallas’ offense has been pretty efficient against one of the NHL’s best defensive units.
|Goals per 60||2.52||2.52|
|Expected Goals per 60||2.54||2.1|
|Shot Attempts per 60||62.2||44.5|
|High-Danger Chances per 60||10.5||10.5|
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Natural Stat Trick.
Game 4 Betting Pick
As I noted above, I think there will be a lot of action (relatively speaking) for Friday night’s game. With that being the case, I’d like to wait until closer to puck drop before placing my bet, which will almost certainly be on the Dallas Stars. (If you’re going to bet Tampa, I’d suggest doing it sooner rather than later.)
There are a couple of +140s around the market (check out our updated NHL Odds Page to shop for the best number), and that’s the number I’m looking for on Dallas in this matchup, but I have a hard time believing that the Stars will crash before Game 4. The Lightning are the favorites. They’re coming off a blow-out win. The game is being played on NBC at primetime.
Those are all ingredients for some inflation on the Bolts.
The Lightning are still the likely winner on Friday night, but the listed odds (-157) give them a 61.1% chance of beating the Stars to go up, 3-1. I think that number flatters the Bolts a tad in a matchup against a team that does a great job of dragging their opponents deep into the night, essentially turning games into coin flips.
For some bettors — and this is a judgment-free zone, you do you — they’d rather just play the team that has a better chance to win. That strategy won’t work out in the long-term in a hilariously random sport like hockey where a bounce off a shin-pad could determine a game, but I understand if you would like to avoid walking down the path of pain that ends with you betting underdogs night after night in this stupid sport.
With their opportunistic offense, stingy defense and great goaltender, the Stars have proven they are always worth a look at these odds, no matter how much it’s going to hurt in the end.
The Bet: Dallas Stars +140 or better