Kuznetsov’s Injury Could Create Value For Bettors in Game 3

Kuznetsov’s Injury Could Create Value For Bettors in Game 3 article feature image
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Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, the big question mark hanging over the series is whether or not Evgeny Kuznetsov is going to play and if he does, how effective he can be.

The Impact

It goes without saying, but paying close attention to injuries is incredibly important when you’re betting, and being on top of things could give you an edge. This is especially true in the playoffs — and in hockey in general — because teams often try to play coy and not reveal anything about injuries.

If Kuznetsov is not able to go in Game 3, Washington loses its first-line center and the NHL points leader in the playoffs. If Kuznetsov is out, Lars Eller will likely play in between Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson on the top line. Eller is a solid replacement, but the impact will be felt down the line up as the Caps will need to have someone else fill Eller’s role on a third line that was buzzing in Vegas.

As of Friday, things remain murky over Kuznetsov’s status. The 26-year-old did take part in the team practice and was said to be a full go as practice went on. However it also has been reported that he has yet to be medically cleared to play. For me the biggest piece of news however came from Tarik El-Bashir who indicated that Kuznetsov was practicing in all the drills but was removing his left hand from the stick while receiving passes.

What this indicates to me is that one of two things is going to happen in Game 3, and either one will have a negative impact on the Capitals’ chances. The first option is that Kuznetsov will not play due to what is most likely a wrist injury. The second, and I think more likely outcome, is that he is going to attempt to play through his injury but will be well under 100%.

If Kuznetsov is not even able to receive a pass in practice, he figures to struggle in all facets of the game from stick-handling, to winning faceoffs and getting power behind his shot. A lot of times injuries can be played through with limited impact on a player’s game, but this looks like it cost Kuznetsov a lot of his effectiveness.

I think this situation offers a good spot to place a bet on Vegas — regardless of which way Washington goes. However, if Kuznetsov is ruled eligible to play, I think you will see the line shoot Washington’s way and that could provide even more incentive to back the Knights. — Sean Newsham

Facts and Figures

This season, the Golden Knights are 9-4 and have won three games in a row after a home loss. Overall, the Knights are 23-11 after a loss this year and have yet to lose two games in a row this postseason (4-0). Vegas is the most profitable team off a loss this season. — Evan Abrams

This could be a buy-low opportunity on the Golden Knights. Teams coming off a loss that play their next game on the road have gone 244-269 (47.6%) straight-up since 2006 but a $100 bettor would return a profit of $4,398 (8.6% ROI) wagering on these teams. — John Ewing

Most bets were on the over in Game 2, and bettors probably feel salty after Braden Holtby robbed them of a win with one of the greatest saves you’ll ever see. I expect we will see the public back the over once again in Game 3 despite the unfortunate results. However, since 2006 the over is 24-45-6 (35%) in the Stanley Cup Final. — John Ewing

Market Notes

After closing at +137 (Pinnacle) in Game 1, the Capitals opened at that same number for Game 2 but money came in on the visitors and they closed at +125 and Vegas came off the board at -138.

For Game 3 the line opened Washington -134/+121 but has since moved to -123/+111. Kuznetsov’s injury has a lot to do with the number it’s pretty clear that the market thinks higher of Vegas than Washington. I happen to disagree with that notion but does that mean there’s value on the Capitals in Game 3?

At the current price, I see no value either way. I have this game just about 55/45 in favor of the Capitals. No reason to force it. — Michael Leboff