History says Stanley Cup is going to Canada and Canucks

Jun 7, 2011 3:07 AM

Fans were treated to two of the most exciting games in recent Stanley Cup history as the Bruins and Canucks battled relentlessly in Games 1 and 2 of the NHL Finals.

Most of us prefer offense but it was the intensity of both defenses and the amazing play from both goaltenders that stole the show.

In Game 1 the Canucks finally scored with only 19 seconds left in regulation time for a 1-0 win. Until that goal, Tim Thomas saved 33 of 33 shots he had faced but it was Roberto Luongo who saved 36 of 36 that helped Vancouver take a 1-0 in the series.

Then in Game 2 it took all of 11 seconds in overtime for Daniel Sedin to set up Alexandre Burrows for the second-fastest over-time goal in NHL playoff history and the Canucks headed to Boston with a 2-0 series lead.

Historically, teams that won Games 1 and 2 at home in the NHL Finals have gone on to win 32 of 34 Stanley Cups. That is why we are now looking at an adjusted series price of the Canucks -750 favorites to eventually close it out. They would be the first team from Canada to win the Cup since Montreal in 1993.

Coming into the Finals the big question was whether the Bruins would finally be able to get their power-play going. They had converted 14.5% of opportunities with the man-advantage throughout the regular season. In the playoffs that same power-play has dropped to 8.6% and hasn’t scored in the Finals.

Defensively the power-play stop unit has not allowed a single goal by the top ranked Canucks and Thomas has been spectacular in stopping 63 of 67 shots. But Luongo has saved 64 of 66 and the Vancouver defense has definitely answered the call.

Boston fell behind at home 2-0 to Montreal in the first round and came back to win in seven, but the Bruins are only 1-26 lifetime in playoff series when down 0-2.

Canucks fans can take comfort in knowing their team has won five of six playoff series when they take a 2-0 lead. In all rounds of the NHL playoffs, when home teams go up 2-0 they’ve gone 214-24 (.899) in the series.

Bottom line: It doesn’t look good for the Bruins. The heavy chalk put on the adjusted series price by odds makers is well warranted.

Game 3 in Boston was Monday night so we’ll look ahead to Game 4 where I expect the books to offer us some value.

If Boston wins Game 3 they should again be the betting favorite. In that spot I would look to take the Canucks as road dogs. Historically teams in this exact spot based on the win/loss sequence in the series have won Game 4 in the NHL Finals almost 55% of the time.

Since we are getting "plus money" on the take-back, the value would be there.

If Vancouver wins Game 3 to take a 3-0 series lead, then I would look for a sweep. Teams up 3-0 in the Finals have swept 13 of 16 times.

An 80% win probability translates to a moneyline of -400. When we look at all of the NHL playoff rounds, those same teams have swept almost 65% of the series, translating to a moneyline of -186. Compared to what the books will be offering in Game 4, we should definitely get value on Vancouver.

Regardless of the Game 3 outcome it appears the value will be on the Canucks in Game 4.

Finally, if the Finals do get back to Vancouver and the Canucks are ahead 3-1 in the series then I would look to back the Bruins to take it back to Boston for a Game 6.

The reason for this is because the Canucks would be a huge favorite of around -200 to win Game 5 at home and my "true line" would be much closer to -150.

When your "true line" differs from what the books are offering, then you have betting value and if you get your money down when you are getting the best of it, over time you will be able to turn a profit in this market.

Now let’s see if both teams can continue to play as hard as they did in Games 1 and 2. That brand of hockey has been exciting to watch and will definitely help the NHL fan-base grow.

As sports fans and bettors we have been treated to some amazing finishes and I hope there are more ahead. The NBA Finals have produced the same, making it a great time to be involved in the sports betting market.

(Note: Vegas-Runner is a Pro Bettor and Handicapper in Las Vegas, who has been featured on CNBC & ESPN. Follow VR on Twitter (@Vegasrunner) and at Pregame.com)