As the competition became tighter when down to the Elite 8, so did the betting complexion of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After a first round, where the favorites did alarmingly well, that changed dramatically in the conference semi-finals as you can see below.
Favorites – 9-13 – 9.60 units
-200 ML or Higher – 0-1, – 2.00 units
-151 to -199 ML – 6-7, -3.70 units
–150 ML or Lower – 3-5, -3.90 units
In essence, the favorites were like Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in Game 7 at home against Winnipeg, very soft. But this makes sense, particularly in hockey, where the differences in teams are not as great as the NBA and of course how you score makes a big difference.
In the larger picture, these reflect what a typical Stanley Cup chase would look like and year after year, the sportsbooks profit handsomely as most bettors prefer money line favorites.
A great case in point this season was the just concluded Winnipeg and Nashville series. These two had the most-ever points in a series matchup at 233 and they were No.1 (Predators) and No.2 (Jets) in total points. Among the many strengths of both clubs was how well they played at home. Winnipeg had the most home wins with 32 and Preds were tied for 4th with 28. Yet, in their seven-game series, the home favorite only won two times, which affected the overall numbers.
Totals – 12-9-1 OVER
Totals (6 or 6.5) – 7-4-1 UNDER
Totals (5 or 5.5) – 8-2 OVER
On the totals side, we saw a continuation of what has gone on in the tournament. This season, because of how well teams skate and can generate offensive pressure, scoring was up significantly. As a part of this, referees were instructed before the season to call more slashing penalties. To be clear, the intent was not to just call them for the sake of it, but call the rule as it is written and not let the offender slide like in the past.
This also pushed up scoring with more power play attempts and conversions. But in the playoffs, the sweet spot for goals scored has been between 5.5 and 6 which has led to expected higher scores to come in lower and anticipated lower scores to be higher.
Hockey Playoffs Complete Overview
Favorites – 38-27, -1.45 units
–200 ML or Higher – 7-4, -2.15 units
-151 to -199 ML – 22-11, +6.00 units
-150 ML or Lower – 9-12, -6.3 units
At the current time, the money flow on series wagering in on Tampa Bay and Winnipeg to advance. However, most agree that anything less the six games in each series would be a surprise. Based on earlier results, favorites in the middle range might still be a good bet, with underdogs a better choice when the fave is -150 or less.
Totals – 29-29-7 OVER
Totals (6 or 6.5) – 15-6-5 UNDER
Totals (5 or 5.5) – 23-14-2 OVER
While the totals are amazingly dead even after 65 games, there is a clear delineation between the 5’s and the 6’s for totals and there is little reason to think that will change.
Doug Upstone wrote this for ScoresandStats.com