Canucks have a chance to close it out on the road in Boston

Jun 14, 2011 3:10 AM

(EDITOR’S NOTE: GT goes to press each Monday night, so we don’t know if there will be a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals. But if there is, we’re on it!)

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the stat-sheet, but the Vancouver Canucks have a 3-2 lead and a chance to close it out on the road in Boston.

Both teams have defended their home ice in each game throughout the series. The Canucks took a 2-0 series lead in Vancouver but the Bruins were able to tie it up at 2-2 by sweeping Games 3 and 4 in Boston. Then in Game 5, the Canucks escaped with a narrow 1-0 win at home to go ahead 3-2 and are now one win away from their first ever Stanley Cup.

Looking at stats alone through all five games, it appears the Bruins have definitely outplayed the Canucks. Boston has outscored Vancouver 14-6 and its 37-year-old goaltender Tim Thomas has performed up to par with his record-breaking regular season. Thomas has a save percentage of .965, allowing only 1.21 goals-against in the Finals compared to .910 and 2.97 by Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo.

Surprisingly, even Boston’s anemic power-play unit that’s been dismal throughout the playoffs has produced more than No. 1 ranked Vancouver. The Bruins have progressed towards their mean by converting on 14.3 percent of power-play opportunities in the Finals after hovering around nine percent throughout the postseason.

On the flip side, the Canucks who were tops in the NHL all season have converted on only four percent of power-play chances in this series.

Sometimes the data doesn’t reflect the actual result because as it stands the Canucks have overcome those shortcomings and will close out the series with a single win over the next two games.

Based on the results so far it’s highly probable that they’ll need seven games to do it. Neither team has won a game on the road in the Finals and Boston has one of the strongest home-ice advantages in all of hockey.

Boston should have been extremely confident in Game 6 after out-scoring Vancouver 12-1 the last two times they’ve played them at home. All of their three losses have come by one goal and really could have gone either way.

The Bruins have their series win against Montreal where they fell behind 2-0 in the series but came back to win it in seven as inspiration. And more importantly they have not been dominated by Vancouver in any games thus far.

Historically, teams like Vancouver that won Games 1, 2 and 5 at home and lost 3 and 4 on the road are only 4-5 (.444) in Game 6 in the NHL Finals. In all best of seven sports, those same teams are 6-6 (.500) in the Finals.

Based on that historical data, it reflects Game 6 win probability for both teams is a coin-flip in the Finals. The odds makers sent out a money-line of Boston -135 for Game 6 which supported a higher win probability for the Bruins.

The line is currently up to -145 in favor of Boston as bettors believe we will get to see a Game 7 decide the Stanley Cup winner.

I believe that is highly likely but don’t see much betting value on Boston at the offered price. Since I have a future bet on the Bruins this presents the perfect opportunity to back the Canucks as a hedge-bet.

Those who followed along and wish to do the same should wait until as close to game-time as possible to receive the best price.

We know that most bettors wait until game day and many until right before it goes off to place their wagers. According to bookmakers I’ve spoken to, they expect to see a lot of one-way action on Boston and end up exposed for Game 6.

Finally, if we get the Game 7 we’re all hoping for, I would strongly recommend a wager on Vancouver at home. I was surprised at how low they went off in Game 5 until speaking to a number of books who all claimed to have taken plenty of Boston action.

It appears the "over-valued" label is no longer applicable for the Canucks and they are now the "under-valued" team after the way they’ve won their games when compared to Boston.

Therefore we should see that same value in Game 7 on Vancouver. Over the years, the home team has a huge edge in the all-deciding game. Couple that with the strong home-ice advantage that the Canucks (37-11-2-4) already have and I would have to make my true-line as high as -200 in favor of Vancouver.

Since I do not believe the odds makers will send the line out that high and a Game 7 would mean Boston won Game 6, making Vancouver even more "under-valued"…backing the Canucks will be an easy decision.

By doing so we’ll have history on our side, an extremely strong home-ice advantage, and a discounted price. Those are three factors that make Vancouver my bet if we get treated to a much anticipated Game 7.

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