Stuckey: Why I Generally Love to Bet Stanley Cup Finals Unders

May 27, 2019 5:55 PM EDT
Credit:

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tuuka Rask

  • Betting unders in the Stanley Cup Finals has been extremely profitable since 2005.
  • Stuckey examines why that is, and offers his thoughts on whether that trend will continue with the Blues and Bruins.

I mentioned this in our staff favorite Stanley Cup Finals bets article but also wanted to expand a little on what has been one of my favorite bets in the NHL postseason.

My first love of the Stanley Cup playoffs will always be Game 7 unders — regardless of the round. Teams generally play tighter to the vest with so much on the line. And refs really swallow their whistle, trying to stay out of such a high-stakes game as much as possible.

While teams average approximately 16 penalty minutes per game during the regular season (and during Games 1-6 of non-finals series), that number drops drastically to around eight in Game 7s.

And similar to Game 7 situations, refs tend to swallow their whistles a little more during the championship round, as we’ve seen close to a 20% reduction in penalty minutes (13 per game since the 1989-90 season).

The question then becomes how has that played out in the over/under betting market? Well, unders have been tremendously profitable.

Per BetLabs, unders in the Stanley Cup finals have gone 46-26-6 since 2005, hitting at a 63.9% clip. That’s good enough for a 13.5% return on investment. Not bad.

I also think teams play a little more cautious with so much on the line (which we see in championships of many sports). And you usually have two of the hottest goalies facing off against each other after navigating through their respective conferences.

Now, just because this trend has been successful in the past and there are tangible reasons for its success doesn’t necessarily mean you should blindly follow it moving forward.

  1. As with any successful trend, the market can adjust, pricing out any edge that previously existed
  2. The matchup matters

So, What About This Matchup?

These two teams are very evenly matched and have similar profiles. They both play extremely disciplined hockey and are stubborn on the defensive end.

St. Louis’ fourth line is also playing well enough to match up with Boston’s. The Blues are also physical enough to keep that elite Boston first line in check. Throw in two goalies you can trust and I think this will be a low-scoring affair between two clones.

Some have said the time off might hurt Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, but I don’t see it that way. Historically, there is no edge either way in the rest vs. rust debate when teams have had long layoffs in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Also, Rask is not the most physically-gifted goalie and I think the time off will serve him well. He’s in a zone and brimming with confidence. I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t continue this series.

Lastly, I think the Blues’ penalty kill can somewhat contain the explosive Bruins power play — something I had no confidence in the Canes doing in the Eastern Conference Finals.

I will certainly be on the under in Game 1 on Monday night and unless I see something I wasn’t expecting, I will be looking for more the rest of the way. It obviously all depends on the totals we see, so be sure to follow me in the Action app to get alerts when I make a play.

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