The Bruins were on the verge of going up 3-1 in their series with the Lightning after taking a 3-0 lead into the second period of Game 4 in Tampa Bay. But to the delight of the crowd at St. Pete Times Forum, the home team went on to out-shoot the Bruins and beat them to the puck in winning 39 of 65 face-offs.
Both team’s power-play stop units didn’t allow a single goal for the second straight game but it was the change in goalie for the Lightning that made the difference. After allowing three goals on only nine shots to start the game, goaltender Dwayne Roloson who has played extremely well in the post-season was pulled.
Mike Smith went on to save 21 of 21 the rest of the way and the Lightning were able to go back to Boston with the series tied at 2-2.
Tampa Bay’s shot caller Guy Boucher said, "We have our No. 1 goaltender. He has taken us to this place and that’s the reason we are here. So it appears "Roli the Goalie" will get the nod and start again in Game 5 as the first-year head coach put any potential controversy to rest.
There have been only four occasions in the NHL Conference Finals where the home team has won Game 1, lost 2 and 3 before winning 4. Those same teams have gone 2-2 in Game 5 at home but are a perfect 4-0. That’s what faces the Bruins.
Although we have a very small sample size in the Conference Finals, historically in the NHL Playoffs overall, teams who have taken that exact route have advanced to the next round in 17 of 30 opportunities.
Not only do the Bruins have history on their side that reflects they will eventually be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. Having the Conference’s best team all season long represent the East in the Finals will create a much needed interest.
In the West, the best throughout the season was Vancouver. The Canucks won Game 4 against San Jose in convincing fashion on Sunday after scoring three goals in the second period with a 5 on 3 advantage after a scoreless first. That was something they were unable to do on the road in Game 3, otherwise we would have witnessed a sweep.
Vancouver now returns home for Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead and an adjusted series price of -1100. The take back on the Sharks is around +700. Based on historical probability, backing them would definitely not offer bettors the best of it.
Eight teams have taken a 3-1 series lead in the Conference Finals by winning Games 1 and 2 at home, then losing Game 3 but winning Game 4 on the road. Those eight teams have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals every time.
Getting back to the Conference Finals, seven of those eight teams went on to end the series at home in Game 5.
Bottom line, it doesn’t look good for the Sharks, even as -170 favorites in Game 5.
To win money long-term you have to be able to get your money down when you are getting the best of it. To do that, you have to get the best price before the books adjust or you have to get an adjusted price that still offers you the edge.
In this case, I don’t believe the books will be able to adjust the price enough in Game 5 to reflect anything other than a profitable position on the Canucks.
If I conclude that the true odds of cashing reflect a money line of -300 and the books are offering it at -200, then I’ll make that bet every time it’s being offered.
I like the Bruins at the adjusted series and the Canucks to close it out in Game 5. The plan is to pass on Game 5 in East and instead to bet the series. Then in the West, I’m prepared to back the Canucks in every game the rest of the way.
Vegas-Runner is a Pro Bettor & Handicapper in Las Vegas. He’s been featured on CNBC & ESPN. Follow VR on Twitter @Vegasrunner and at Pregame.com.