What Is the Betting Market Trying to Tell Us About the St. Louis Blues?
Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan O’Reilly
The St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019, led the Western Conference in points in 2020-’21 before the COVID shutdown, then were pretty bad in the pandemic-shortened season in ’21.
Everything was bad, at least compared to the two seasons. Surface-level metrics. Underlying metrics. Goaltending.
St. Louis still snuck into the playoffs in a bad division, then got swept by the Avalanche in about five minutes.
That’s the dead-middle of the league, 16th of 32 teams at most shops, even the ones that have adjusted closer to the 30-1 range.
But is it the team they are through the first week? It’s a tiny sample influenced by a few key injuries to their opponents, but the betting market doesn’t seem to think the Blues are an average team. Remember — sportsbooks arrive at odds for games via a wisdom of the crowd approach. And some smart, deep-pocketed people out there must like St. Louis.
If you went to bet the Blues at any point in the last two weeks, you may have been surprised to see they were such a short underdog on the road against the Avalanche and the Golden Knights, two of the Stanley Cup favorites before the season. The line also moved in the Blues’ favor at least 15 cents in both games.
What the betting market is telling us is that at a neutral-site venue, under the circumstances of those games, the Blues and Knights are pretty close to even. And that St. Louis isn’t all that much worse than Colorado.
Via our data at Bet Labs:
We do have to note three very important caveats:
- The Avalanche were missing star forward Nathan MacKinnon
- The Knights were missing forwards Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty
- Futures odds do not always correlate perfectly to game-by-game markets. The Blues are in the tougher Western Conference division, led by Colorado.
But I’m not arguing that the Blues are dead-even with the Avs or Knights, just that they’re much better than the league average team many sportsbooks pegged them as before the season.
The Golden Knights have only been that short a favorite at home six other times over the last two seasons. And it’s not like it’s the first time they’ve been missing Pacioretty in that time frame.
|St. Louis Blues||Oct. 2021||-125|
|Colorado Avalanche||May 2021||109|
|St. Louis Blues||March 2021||-124|
|Colorado Avalanche||Feb. 2021||-105|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Feb. 2020||-103|
|Colorado Avalanche||Dec. 2019||-124|
|Nashville Predators||Oct. 2019||-124|
And since the start of last season, when the Avs really blossomed into the league’s best team, they’ve only been that short of an underdog at home three other times (twice to the Blues at the start of last season, actually).
|St. Louis Blues||Oct. 2021||-146|
|Vegas Golden Knights||Feb. 2021||-131|
|St. Louis Blues||Jan. 2021||-134|
|St. Louis Blues||Jan. 2021||-143|
I could get into all the reasons I think the Blues are good, including their forward depth, but my colleague Michael Leboff already did that before the season when he bet the Blues at 50-1.
Our friends at MoneyPuck give St. Louis a 3.7% chance to win the Cup (which would make their fair price around 20-1). The betting market is telling us this team is much closer to the top of the league than the bottom.