Stanley Cup Playoff Betting Tips: Is the Under a Good Bet in Game 7?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Hutchinson
Finally, some Game 7’s.
We didn’t see one Game 7 in the entire first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs but now we’re looking at three of them over the next two days. Colorado vs. Dallas, Vancouver vs. Vegas and the New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia.
There’s been a lot of talk about betting the Under in Game 7’s during the NBA Playoffs (both cashed) and the same conversation will surely take place in NHL betting circles.
Fact or Fiction: Game 7 Unders
Since 1996, the Under has gone 39-26-13 in 78 Game 7’s with a total of at least five goals. That’s good enough for a 60% win rate. And those numbers include some horrific bad beats for under bettors, including two last season between San Jose and Vegas and Toronto and Boston.
Why has the Under been a good play in Game 7’s? One hypothesis is that teams tend to play tighter in do-or-die contests. There’s also the injury and fatigue factors. But the most important ingredient in this trend is the officiating.
Referees generally swallow their whistles with so much at stake — afraid to make an incorrect call or impact the outcome of such an important game.
As a result, we see fewer power plays in Game 7’s — and the chance of a goal obviously increases when one team has a man advantage. And that’s not just anecdotal. Let’s look at some actual data.
I pulled penalty data from Hockey Reference for every NHL playoff game over the past 30 seasons (not including this season). I split that dataset of more than 2,500 postseason games into two subsets (Games 1-6 and Game 7) to isolate the penalty differential. The results are staggering.
As you can imagine this trend gets amplified in the Stanley Cup Final.
An average of 4.06 goals have been scored in 17 Stanley Cup Final Game 7’s. Only one of those contests featured more than five goals and 14 of them ended with four or fewer total scores. In fact, since 1950, all 15 NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 7’s have had five or fewer goals, with an average of under four goals per game.
We saw a Game 7 in the Cup Final between the Blues and Bruins land on five goals. There was one penalty called in that game.
Yes, there is always the risk of an empty-netter (or two) spoiling the party for under bettors, but that won’t stop me from getting involved in my favorite spot to bet an Over/Under in the NHL postseason.
Game 7 Betting Previews