Live NHL series bets: Is there any value left in the Stanley Cup Final?
We don't have to go too deep into the high school mathematics textbook to figure out that if one team wins the only two overtimes through four games in a series, then it might end up being a shorter series than we expected.
In a seven-game series, getting the edge in sudden-death scenarios is naturally a series changer. Unfortunately, for those hoping and expecting the Stanley Cup Final to go deep, the Avalanche's two overtime goals are why we're left with the Lightning as the underdog to survive past Friday.
It also leaves a relatively simple equation for an in-series bet - do you believe the Lightning can pull off three straight wins? Or, at -1200, are the Avalanche such a sure thing that it's worth risking 12 units to win just one.
The play at even strength has favored the Avalanche, and my rating system suggests that Colorado should have a lead in this series 62.7% of the time. That implies odds of -168 for the Avs, which is right around where they closed before the series started after opening higher, only to see the Lightning take money up until the puck dropped for Game 1.
While we can retroactively call the series pricing fair, the individual game metrics by location are just as egalitarian relative to the pregame moneylines.
Games 1 and 2 saw the Avalanche favored at slightly higher than a 60% win probability, and they drove even-strength play at 65% and 84% in those contests, respectively. Conversely, once the series shifted to Tampa Bay, the moneylines were basically equal on either side. Sure enough, the Lightning and Avs exhibited a dead-even split in their high-danger chances at five-on-five, creating 20 each in Games 3 and 4 combined.
Tampa racked up four goals on just nine high-danger chances in Game 3, leading to its convincing win. But that was more about a minus-2.22 GSAx (goals saved above expectation) from Darcy Kuemper than a particularly dominant performance by the Lightning.
Essentially, you have four specific choices in the in-series markets right now:
|Colorado ML||Avalanche win Game 5||-175|
|Tampa Bay +1.5||Lightning win Game 5 + 6||+375|
|Tampa Bay wins series||Lightning win three straight||+850|
|Colorado wins series||Avalanche win any of last 3 games||-1200|
Given what we've seen in this series, there shouldn't be any expectation that the Lightning can win three straight. The Stanley Cup was likely decided once everyone figured out that Nazem Kadri's shot lodged the puck in the top of the net behind Andrei Vasilevskiy to end Game 4.
Now the pricing reflects the Avalanche's likelihood of winning one of the next three games. It also accurately projects Tampa's chances of keeping this series alive for at least one more contest via the moneyline. Of course, with an entire postseason to provide sample size numbers for these teams, oddsmakers better know how to price them.
Considering the on-ice results show that this has been arguably the most accurately priced series of the entire postseason, you could make a case for any bet you make here as being fair. That means there's nothing of value left in the Stanley Cup Final.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.