Bruins Not As Likely To Win Stanley Cup as People May Think

Zach Sanford of the Blues and Noel Acciari of the Bruins
Zach Sanford of the Blues and Noel Acciari of the Bruins (photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

The Boston Bruins went into St. Louis and won an impressive road game, taking Game 6 with the Stanley Cup in the building. The teams will return to Boston one final time for tonight’s pivotal Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup Final. Here’s how sports bettors are approaching this one.

Game 7s usually are accompanied by narratives and talking points and conspiracy theories and whatever else pundits can come up with. There’s usually a lot of misinformation to go along with the information, and obvious storylines to spend too much time focusing on. That doesn’t seem to be the case in this season’s Stanley Cup, as the series has basically played out evenly and unsurprisingly. There’s really not much to look at besides the game itself.

The betting line for last game, Game 6, was a quirky one, as there appeared to be a pretty clear divide between the betting public and sharp bettors. The St. Louis Blues were receiving about 45% of the bets (via Sports Insights) and the line was moving in their direction, from about -110 to -120. Closer to game time, however, the Bruins actually got a decent amount of steam. The line ended up closing at roughly a pick’em, though it’s unclear why the line moved so close to the start of the game. Whatever the reason, the Bruins clearly were the better team on Sunday night, dominating play en route to a 5-1 win.

With the Bruins returning home for Game 7, it seems like there’s some sentiment that a Bruins home win is something of a foregone conclusion. Opening as -165 favorites, the Bruins have now reached -175 and even -185 at some sportsbooks, backed by a majority of bets from the public. In an intuitive sense, there’s not really any reason Vegas would set a bad line on this game to leave value on the Bruins. These teams have had a relatively even series for six games, and the personnel has been similar enough from game to game that there’s no new information to be accounted for. It should theoretically be very easy to see where these teams stand, and any correction towards the Bruins would seem to stem solely from biases. There’s just no conceivable reason to assume that Vegas would have gotten this one wrong.

What’s more likely, however, is that sharp bettors are actually on the St. Louis side for the seventh game in a row. If betting patterns were one way for six consecutive games, it stands to reason they would remain that way for a seventh since nothing has fundamentally changed between the two teams. There’s also some evidence in the line movement that this is the case, as we actually saw the Blues move from +150 to +145 right after the betting line opened. The movement back towards the Bruins really does seem to be the result of public sentiment by all accounts, and it may even be reasonable to expect a correction back towards the Blues before puck drop.

There’s far less to say about the total for Game 7, as it looks like a fair number was set a few games ago when the total stabilized around 5.5 with the under juiced at -145. Tonight’s game fluctuated around 5 (over -150) and 5.5 (under -150), which is functionally the same bet. The public is also split at roughly 50/50 between the over and under, adding more reason to assume that this line is simply just a fair one.

Tonight’s Game 7 should be exciting from a viewing perspective, but the betting line just doesn’t have that much intrigue. I think it makes sense to view the Bruins as slightly overvalued, with the potential that there’s some merit to betting on the Blues.

Boston probably just isn’t quite as likely to bring home the Stanley Cup as most people seem to think they are.

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