We’ve nearly arrived into June, and after the sweat and tears of all of the NHL Playoffs, we’re now smack dab in the middle of the Stanley Cup Finals. The competition has been fierce between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues with the series tied at 1-1, with the Bruins both coming in as the opening odds favorite and the current favorite.
Boston would open up as a -160 favorite to win their seventh Stanley Cup in the history of the franchise, while St. Louis entered with hefty +140 odds to bring their first title to Missouri. These two organizations also have a little history between the two, with the Bruins and Blues meeting in the 1969-70 Stanley Cup Finals. There, Boston would pull off a clean sweep over St. Louis. Despite not having a championship to their name, the Blues are currently making their fourth appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in franchise history.
After the Bruins came back to dominate the Blues, 4-2, in Game 1 on Monday, NHL betting sites had a dramatic shift in the odds. Boston would shoot all the way up with a figure of -280 to win the Cup, while St. Louis would get dropped all the way down to +230.
However, the Blues would respond with a victory of their own, and it would take a miracle to do it — they would win Game 2, 3-2, off of a Carl Gunnarsson overtime goal to even the series at 1-1. As a result, Boston would get their odds brought down to -120, while St. Louis would be put at EVEN money to win the Cup.
And now on to Game 3, and with the series tied at 1-1, we have to go right back to the drawing board and evaluate these two teams and what has happened throughout the 2018-19 campaign. If there’s anything that these first two games has told us, it’s that we can for sure expect a fight throughout this entire series.
First off, let’s start with the leaders of the Boston Bruins, and where the majority of the production will have to come from as the series goes along. Leading the team in scoring is David Pastrnak, tallying a total of 38 goals (off of 235 shots) and he’s also put up 17 power play goals. Brad Marchand leads the club in both assists (64) and points (100), and he’s added to his incredible year by also adding 36 goals to his stat sheet — just a fantastic season from Marchand. In the goal for Boston, it’s been a split between Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask — Halak leads the team in save percentage at .922, while Rask grabs the top tally in wins at 27. On the offensive side of things, the Bruins aren’t necessarily a powerhouse, but on the defensive side, well, they are. They’re solid in their power play percentage at 25.9% to have them ranked third in the league, but overall in goals for / game, they’re only in the No. 11 position with 3.13. After you get past the average statistic of 79.9% in penalty kill percentage, you then notice Boston’s elite defense: They’re tied for third in the NHL in goals against / game with a figure of 2.59 — and that’s what makes the Bruins so scary, and why they’re here in the Stanley Cup Finals. If the Blues can figure out a way to get around that defense, the Bruins may be in trouble in this series.
Leading the way for the St. Louis Blues in offensive production is Vladimir Tarasenko, tallying 33 goals to lead the team in that category. Having the top number in both assists (49) and points (77) is Ryan O’Reilly, who has also put up 28 goals on the stat sheet for a flashy season. Like David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand for the Boston Bruins, both Tarasenko and O’Reilly will need to keep up the potency in order for St. Louis to defeat the tough defense of Boston. Defending the net for the Blues is Jordan Binnington, leading the team in save percentage at .927 and in wins at 24. He’s been incredible this year with 748 saves out of 807 shots, and his figure for goals against/game is 1.89. Just a fabulous season for St. Louis’ protection. When you look at the team statistics, the St. Louis Blues are actually a better overall team than the Boston Bruins — St. Louis actually has pretty solid statistics all around. On the offensive side of things, they rank 15th in goals for / game with 2.98, however, hit the top 10 in power play percentage — they’re in the 10th position at 21.1%. And then on defense, the Blues then get deadly. In goals against / game, they’re tied for fifth in the rankings for a top five position, and they hit the top 10 in penalty kill percentage — ranking ninth at 81.5%. In other words, the St. Louis Blues have a very realistic chance of pulling off the upset over the Boston Bruins to win the NHL Stanley Cup Finals.
It doesn’t matter what sport you decide to argue with, it’s going to be pretty hard to debate that there’s a tougher championship to win than the Stanley Cup — making it one of the most prestigious trophies in sports. However, there’s an individual trophy that also carries a lot of prestige and is in demand from every player in the NHL. I’m of course referring to the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the MVP of the NHL Playoffs, and one of the most honorable in the world of athletics. Right now, the favorite is currently a player that’s active in the Stanley Cup Finals, and that’s goaltender Tuukka Rask from the Boston Bruins placed at -120 in Vegas.
After Rask’s -120 comes Jaden Schwartz in second at +325, and then following closely in third is Jordan Binnington with +350 odds. Up next in fourth, it gets a little more distant with Brad Marchand and his +700 odds. Then the No. 5 spot gets even more distant, having Patrice Bergeron in that spot with a tally of +1800. Coming up in sixth, we have a tie between both David Pastrnak and Vladimir Tarasenko at +2000. In eighth, we have Alex Pietrangelo at +2500, and then Charlie Coyle and his +3000 odds come in the No. 9 spot — and that’s in a tie with David Krejci to round out the top 10.
Reminding Boston Bruins fans of Tim Thomas and his production that led to their 2011 Stanley Cup Championship is Tuukka Rask. Throughout the postseason, he’s been absolutely stellar, posting a stat line of a 12-5 SU record, 1.84 goals against/game and a .942 save percentage. It’s just been an awesome postseason for Rask, and that’s exactly why he’s the top dog in the favorites.
Rask deserves the top spot too after what he’s been through this season. After signing a contract that saw him with a massive payday, he’s been surrounded by criticism by the Boston media and fan base due to not living up to expectations. With Rask leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup and now the favorite to win the most prestigious individual award in hockey, everything is now good and calm in Bean-Town. It should also be noted that the last goaltender to win the Conn Smythe Trophy was the Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick back in 2012. Rask has a 90-percentile great shot of being the first in seven years to win the trophy.
Somebody with very profitable odds that you could take advantage of is St. Louis Blues’ Ryan O’Reilly placed at +4000.
It’s a bit surprising that he’s that low too, he’s been on fire with three goals which ranks second on the Blues — he also has a flashy 11 assists to go with that tally. The reason for the lackluster odds has to be because of his performance in the regular season, he certainly wasn’t the best forward on the team by any stretch of the imagination. But here’s the good news for O’Reilly: The Conn Smythe Trophy isn’t based on regular season success, it’s strictly judgmental of postseason play. If O’Reilly can continue his current level of play up, he could very well win the award and make a few gamblers very happy people with those odds.
Somebody who is getting their respect in the odds is Blues rookie Jordan Binnington — a player who shot straight up from the minor leagues all the way up to superstardom. To put it bluntly, St. Louis wouldn’t even be in the NHL Playoffs without Binnington, let alone in a position to win the Stanley Cup. To put it even more bluntly: The Blues were the worst team in the NHL until Binnington took over control of the goal, and now they’re in the Cup Final, because of him.
There’s a reason why he isn’t the top-dog in the odds though, and that’s because his numbers aren’t the most elite when compared to Rask’s. (12-7, 2.37 GAA, .914 SV%) With that being said, however, he’s been effective enough to obviously get the Blues to the Stanley Cup Finals. I’d go ahead and take advantage of the +350 odds, Binnington could steal this thing when everything is said and done.
Tuukka Rask took some heat during the regular season, but overall, it didn’t turn out too bad with a stat line of 27-13-5, 2.44 GAA and .912 SV%. The only reason why he took this heat despite a good showing is because of his expensive contract, which came with lengthy expectations that he didn’t meet throughout the regular season. However, Rask has turned it on in the postseason, and it’s part of the reason why the Bruins are in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. He’s been on point with a 13-6 record, a .939 SV%, and the most impressive statistic: A 1.91 GAA. If Rask keeps up this play, he’ll have himself the trophy and a ring.
Considering the circumstances, Jaden Schwartz didn’t have a bad campaign in the 2018-19 regular season — he tallied 11 goals, 25 assists and 36 points total on the stat sheet. But in the postseason, Schwartz has been in a completely different world. Goals has definitely been the most impressive statistic, totaling more already at this point in the playoffs than he did in 69 games of action — he’s currently got 12. In other categories, he put up six assists and he’s also got 18 points. If the St. Louis Blues can pull off the upset over the Boston Bruins, Schwartz could very well be the one for St. Louis to take home the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Jordan Binnington was absolutely incredible in the regular season, tallying a crazy elite 24-5-1 record and he also had a dominant 1.89 GAA number to go along with it. His save percentage was also impressive tallying himself at .927 SV%. This incredible stat line that literally came right from the minor leagues led the St. Louis Blues to the playoffs, something that wasn’t supposed to happen. Now they’re in the NHL Stanley Cup Finals. But there’s a reason why Binnington is the second favorite to win the Cup as far as the St. Louis Blues are concerned, and that’s because he hasn’t been quite as great in the playoffs — he’s still been effective though. His stat line has been a 13-8-0 record, 2.37 GAA and a .915 SV%. Solid pick, but I don’t think Binnington will have the numbers to grab the award.
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