Last Updated: 2017-05-28
The Stanley Cup Finals begin Monday night in Pittsburgh, as the Penguins will be looking to win its third Cup in the Sidney Crosby era. The Penguins are good-sized favorites to do just that, with Pittsburgh -165 to win the series and roughly the same price to win Game 1.
Neither team comes into the series at full strength, as the Penguins are without Kris Letang once again, while the Predators will be minus Ryan Johansen, who was injured in the series against Anaheim. He was tied for the team lead in points during the regular season and will be hard to replace. Losing your best center isn’t the ideal situation to be in when going up against a Pittsburgh team that can roll out two of the best centers in the game.
The Predators have been more impressive than Pittsburgh in the playoffs, but you have to give a nod to the Penguins for knocking off Washington.
So far the NHL playoffs have been extremely kind to underdog bettors, as favorites are just 36-43 and show a flat-bet loss of $2,440, while dogs have a flat-bet profit of +$1,970. Home teams have gone 42-39 and the average score has home teams 2.7 to the visitors’ 2.4 goals per game.
In the playoffs, the Penguins score 3.1 goals and allow 1.8 at home, while scoring 3.0 on the road and allowing 2.9 goals. The Predators average 2.8 goals on the road and allow 2.0, while scoring 3.1 and allowing 1.6 in front of the Nashville faithful.
So the Pens are 1.0 goals better than the average home team, while the Predators are 1.1 goals better than the average road team. When Nashville is at home, the Predators have been 1.2 goals better than the average home team, while Pittsburgh has been .4 goals better than the typical road team.
Using a simple formula that measures teams compared to the league average, which in this case we’ll use the playoff averages, makes Pittsburgh -120 at home and the Predators whopping -275 favorites at home. Using those numbers, which admittedly are off kilter, would make Nashville roughly -135 favorites, so there is a bit of value on the underdog.
The Predators were 33-19 against teams with winning records during the year, while the Penguins were 27-22, although Pittsburgh suffered a few more injuries during the year, while the Predators are undergoing their injury issues now.
While the betting public is on Nashville, it looks like the sharps are backing Pittsburgh, as the line has held steady or increased slightly despite more wagers coming in on Nashville. Part of that is likely due to outside of Canada or Pittsburgh, Crosby just isn’t exactly a likeable figure, although nobody will deny he is a great player.
It will be far from a large wager, but can see taking the Predators +145 to win the series.