Ultimate Stanley Cup Final Betting Guide 2019: Bruins-Blues
This is one of the toughest Stanley Cup Finals predictions I’ve had to make in many years. One minute, I’m all in on the Boston Bruins because of several factors, to be illuminated below. The next minute, I think, no, these St. Louis Blues are just playing too well to go against them now.
So, indulge me, if you will, the reasons why I think both sides have a great chance at hoisting the best trophy in all of sports.
I might change my mind again, in the course of writing this, who I think will win. But there will be a prediction at the end, one I think NHL betting fans should seriously consider.
Odds to Win the Stanley Cup
|St. Louis Blues||13/10||2.30|
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Why You Should Bet Bruins to Win the Stanley Cup
- They have the hotter goalie: Tuukka Rask has the best numbers of any goalie in the playoffs. His goals-against average of 1.84 and saves percentage of .942 are tops in each category.
His counterpart, rookie Jordan Binnington, has a .914 saves percentage and 2.36 GAA - numbers that slipped from his regular-season numbers of .927 and 1.89, respectively. Rask also has previous Cup Finals experience (2013 against Chicago).
While Binnington did stop 75 of the final 77 shots he saw in the Western Conference finals against San Jose (.976), he has been lit up a couple times in the postseason. Hey, it’s a team sport, it wasn’t all his fault on that. But the fact is, Boston has the hotter goalie right now, and you always like to say that entering a playoff series, especially the Cup Final.
- Special teams, very special: When either up a man, or down a man, the Bruins have been just lights out in these playoffs. The Bruins lead all teams with a 34-percent power-play conversion rate.
Point man Charlie McAvoy is emerging as one of the game’s elite on the blue line moving the puck around the horn, and his offensive moves off the rush are dynamic. Down low, forwards such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are all strong finishers around the net.
Boston’s penalty-kill percentage of 86.3 is also the best of any team still playing. The Blues’ PP percentage has been 19.4 and the PK rate is 78 percent. Advantage, Bruins.
- Third-line additions have mattered: As great as Boston’s first line is, with Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak, the Bruins became a better, deeper team with the trade-deadline acquisitions of Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. A team whose third line was iffy before became much better by GM Don Sweeney’s acquisitions.
It took Coyle a while to adjust to a new team and conference after several years with the Minnesota Wild, but he’s been a real difference-maker in the playoffs as the center, with six goals and 12 points in 17 games. The same applies to the veteran left wing Johansson, but in 15 playoff games, he has nine points. That’s very good production from your third-liners.
Why You Should Bet Blues to Win the Stanley Cup
- O’Reilly helps neutralize Bergeron: There is no question that Bergeron is one of the best two-way centers who have ever played the game. He’s a future Hall of Famer, a winner, a leader, still a great player. He has very often been the X-factor in his teams’ playoff victories, as most teams just don’t have a two-way guy like him as a centerman.
But the Blues have one in Ryan O’Reilly. One of the things I’m most looking forward to in this series is watching the matchup between these two, although it remains to be seen just what kind of line-juggling each coach will do.
Both can get you a point a game, both are ridiculously good at winning faceoffs and both are disruptive presences defensively. O’Reilly is so smart as a player. He always seems to be in the right place defensively, and he steals a lot of pucks in the neutral zone.
O’Reilly will have his hands full with Bergeron, but so will Bergeron with O’Reilly.
- Tarasenko the most talented player in series: No doubt I’ll get some pushback from Bruins fans on this, but for my money, the Blues have the player with the most pure talent of any in this series. That player is forward Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tarasenko has frustrated Blues fans before with some mediocre showings in the playoffs, but he’s got eight goals in 19 postseason games so far. His shot is just elite. He seems to be working harder away from the puck, too, which any offensive player must do for his team to win a championship.
He doesn’t get enough ink, but I’ll tell you who I think could be the real wild card, x-factor in this series: Jaden Schwartz. His 12 postseason goals so far is second only to Logan Couture. Schwartz plays on the left side on a line with Tarasenko and Brayden Schenn. Right now, it’s a tough line to handle.
- Momentum that hasn’t let up since Jan. 3: St. Louis was 15-18-4 on Jan. 3, the team with the fewest points in the league. Under new coach Craig Berube, the Blues finished the season on a 30-10-5 run and now have won three straight postseason series.
This is a very tight-knit team. They really want to be the first Blues team to ever win the Stanley Cup. Their theme song is “Gloria”, by Laura Branigan. They have a celebrity superfan in “Mad Men” star and St. Louis native Jon Hamm. There is just a real buzz around the team. Nothing has been able to stop them since Jan. 3, and momentum matters in hockey.
Stanley Cup 2019 Best Bet
I truly did waver back and forth while writing this. This is a tough pick. But I’m going with the Blues at 13/10 (2.30) at 888Sport to win in six games. The Bruins have been off for so long, that I think a certain rust factor will creep in early in the series.
Once the Blues steal a game in Boston, “Gloria” fever will take over and lead the Blues to the promised ice, finally. And if you are feeling daring, the Blues in 6 would get you 9/2 (5.50) odds.
Conn Smythe (NHL Playoff MVP) Odds
Who will win the 2019 Conn Smythe Award?
St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz will win the 2019 Conn Smythe Award, fetching odds of 5/2 (3.50). You might not have ever heard of him, but his 12 goals lead all active postseason players, and I say he gets a few more to finish his Conn job.
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