After this Historic Season, Can the Blues Finally Lift their First Stanley Cup?

Adam Boothe

Friday, May 24, 2019 10:46 AM UTC

Friday, May. 24, 2019 10:46 AM UTC

The waiting is over, we finally get to put our knowledge and eye to the test for hockey's greatest prize!

<p>The pinnacle of the NHL calendar is now here, the Stanley Cup Finals. For hockey fans globally they look forward to this annual series; it rarely contains a clear favourite and is, more often than not, a war. Given the way these two have been all post-season, I expect this one to fit the mould and maybe, just maybe, be one for the history books.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;\"One step closer baby!\" &lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;Go behind the scenes of the &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/StLouisBlues?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;@StLouisBlues&lt;/a&gt; Game 6 victory ⬇️ &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&amp;amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#StanleyCup&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"https://t.co/iO054itXBl\"&gt;pic.twitter.com/iO054itXBl&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— NHL (@NHL) &lt;a href=\"https://twitter.com/NHL/status/1131735401272631303?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;May 24, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><div><h2>St Louis Blues v Boston Bruins</h2><p>These two teams are undoubtedly deserving of reaching this stage, which is almost always the case in the NHL playoffs. TheOddsmarket articles have hit 2/2 Bruins series winners and 3/3 Blues series winners as well as a handful of others to go along with it. Let's recap briefly how we got here. Boston faced divisional rivals, Toronto, in the opening round. After going down 3-2 they absolutely steamrolled over the Leafs in the final two games to take game seven victories in back-to-back years. They then proceeded on to the Jackets who had looked very good sweeping President's Trophy winners Tampa Bay. The Bruins once again found themselves trailing after Game 3, but then took over the series – winning the next three games. Unfortunately I never got an opportunity to hop on Boston for the series market against Carolina... it was over before you could say 'storm surge'! So after Game 3 against the Jackets, the B's have outscored their opponents 28-9 in the past seven games.</p><p>The Blues on the other hand had to grind out series wins in six or seven games against all their opponents. In Game 5 they found themselves down 2-0 in Winnipeg heading to the third period. They made a miraculous comeback in the third scoring in the final minutes of regulation to stun a Jets fan-base and went on to take the series. Against Dallas they were down 3-2 heading to Dallas when another clutch third period came to pass and they closed out it at home in maybe the most dominant game of the 2019 playoffs, yet still needed overtime thanks to the heroics of Ben Bishop. Then came the beat-up, but resilient San Jose Sharks. In Game 1 turnovers were the name of the game and the Couture-led Sharks pounced dominantly. However after the game it was almost entirely St Louis' series to lose. San Jose got their chances offensively, but did not have nearly enough at the back-end to deal with the counter-attack. As the Blues were able to throw bodies at the fatigued defensive corps of San Jose it became more and more one-sided. What a great series we should have now!</p><p>In one goal games the Blues have been far superior than the Bruins winning 8/11 compared to 3/7. It's both a testament to how easy it was for Boston in their victories and an indication of the clutch factor for St Louis. One of the most significant advantages Boston holds is on their special teams. Their powerplay is hitting at a rate of 34% and their penalty kill is a solid 86%. This is probably necessary as they had a -7 pp/pk rating contrasted with the Blues +30. So while the tale of the tape is the special teams advantage should rest clearly with the B's, if St Louis continues to be the far more disciplined team than this advantage might not come to play a huge factor. The only team that took remotely as few penalties against Boston, as the Blues may, was the Leafs...and that went 7 games.</p><p>Another solid advantage for Boston is their centre depth. They have used five different players for at least twelve games to take faceoffs during the playoffs. Four of the five have a positive win percentage with Bergeron holding an impressive 59%. Additionally the forward group of the Bruins (14 over the whole post-season) only consist of two players with a negative plus/minus. This is not too different from the Blues who only have their top line with a negative rating. As I mentioned to some colleagues yesterday, this could play a significant factor when top three meet top three. If the Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak trio (known as the best in hockey) are better at both ends of the ice it could cause significant match-up problems for the Blues.</p><p>Let's look at some other stats, averaged by game, which play a role in every series:</p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>HITS: BOS = 30.0 –-- STL = 29.3</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>BLOCKS: BOS = 14.5 –-- STL = 14.4</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>GIVEAWAYS: BOS = 9.7 --- STL = 10.3</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>TAKEAWAYS: BOS = 7.7 --- STL = 9.3</strong></p><p style="text-align:center;"><strong>SHOOTING%: BOS = 10.0 --- STL = 9.7</strong></p><p>Another frequently heard talking point is how important the first goal of a playoff game is. The Blues and Bruins have both been superb in this regard through the post-season. The Bruins are 11-2 when scoring first in the playoffs, while the Blues are 10-3. When the opposition has scored first Boston is 1-3, St Louis 2-4. Leads after the second period whether one goal or more have been almost sure things for both teams; Boston has closed all 11 games, while the Blues have won 8/9 (the one loss being against the Sharks in the now infamous Game 3).</p><p>Both teams have an equal number of goals scored, 57, through the playoffs (Blues have played two more games). However here is where it gets interesting. At 5v5, the Bruins have 32 goals (1.88/game), while at even-strength St Louis has 43 (2.26/game). Additionally the Bruins have a whopping six empty-net goals in 17 games to St Louis' one. The Blues have allowed an average of 1.6 goals against at 5v5, while Boston holds 1.3 against. The best period for Boston has been the first, while the best one for the Blues has been the third. St Louis is 1-2 in overtime, and Boston is 1-1. In terms of goaltending, both have been superb and offer significant value as candidates for the Conn Smythe. Rask has the experience, but it was Tim Thomas in net the last time the Bruins lifted a cup!</p><p>Alright let us get down to the play now. I hope until this point the article has painted a very objective picture of the tangibles that can come to impact a series. Looking at the price, the Boston odds are too steep to consider the moneyline to be the correct play. If you feel like x-factor players such as the Bergeron line or Rask will come to impact the series far more than the number suggests then I recommend either taking Boston -1.5 or splitting a unit on Boston to win the series 4-2/4-3. For myself, this series could be a Boston 4-1, based on the depth of both teams and their nearly equal disposition to find a way to win, however Blues are once more the sharp play here. They have been an underdog in all but the Stars series and have come away with at least a winin the opening two games of every series. We have seen frequently that home-ice is not worth 1.65 tag and both teams are more than capable of winning on the road. Due to the extremely rare break between the Conference finals and Stanley Cup finals, Game 1 could play out entirely different to the rest of the series. So whether you're on the Bruins or Blues don't read too much into the opening result. These two teams have been profitable for us because they have played the best hockey consistently, if Boston was starting on the road and placed at a 2.0 or so I would be on them to begin the series.</p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&amp;a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&amp;f=1" target="_blank" title="NHL Betting Odds"><em><strong>Bet = St Louis Blues @ 2.45 [Bet365]</strong></em></a></p><p>This completes the Oddsmarket 2019 NHL Playoffs article series. I hope that, even if you were on a different side to us, you found them beneficial for your betting both this year and in the future. If you ever need to find one in particular or have a question about my method, don't hesitate to contact me at anytime[@lockeqwerty]. Congratulations on reaching the end of a very profitable season</p></div>
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