Skip to content

Stanley Cup Playoffs betting: Don't call for a comeback with pair of 3-0 series

Icon Sportswire / Getty

In a bizarre twist - given the usual parity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the tight pre-series odds in both conference finals - the Hurricanes and Stars are on the brink of being the first two sweeps of the 2023 postseason.

More to our expectation of a close series, it took until the sixth cumulative game of Round 3 for any team to take a two-goal lead. When the Golden Knights chased Jake Oettinger in the first period on Tuesday, that was the first real inclination of a one-sided game result despite the decisive series leads.

What's left for bettors to do with two series that could go the minimum but involve matchups where no team has been given even a 60% chance to win an individual game based on the moneylines?

Series: Hurricanes (+900) vs. Panthers (-1600)

Even-strength numbers

Hurricanes 10.99 51 1
Panthers 7.82 43 2

If this were a blind-resume test, it would take a while before you got to "Panthers 3-0" for your guess as to the status of this series - even though unusual results aren't out of the question for a matchup that was priced tightly. The Panthers have essentially won three straight coin-flip games - two overtime finishes and via a lone power-play goal in Game 3.

Florida has taken a commanding lead thanks to Sergei Bobrovsky. Even with the assistance of four extra periods of scoreless action in Game 1, Bobrovsky's 11.14 Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx), according to Evolving-Hockey, and the Hurricanes' 1-for-51 high-danger chance conversion rate are both jaw-dropping stats. In 2833 regular-season minutes, Bobrovsky totaled 2.92 GSAx.

Could Bobrovsky's fortunes turn at any moment? It's not impossible, which means the possibility exists for a Canes comeback. If that's something you're interested in, we have to compare the current series price to rolling over the Carolina moneyline for the remaining four games.

4 -105 -
5 -140* +235
6 -105* +550
7 -140* +1020

Even with two potential weighted coins in favor of the Hurricanes (-140) at home, you may get a better price by taking an initial stake and continuing to add profits from each moneyline win to the following game's bet.

Don't want to commit to a full-blown Canes comeback? You can lock in fair prices on Carolina +2.5 games at +240 or Carolina +1.5 games at +550. But rolling over moneylines allows the bettor a chance to pull their money off the table should something change in either team's available personnel.

Series: Stars (+900) vs. Golden Knights (-1600)

Even-strength numbers

Stars 6.88 22 2
Golden Knights 5.91 23 6

I've joked about how - all postseason - it feels like if the Golden Knights get a high-danger scoring chance, it's going in the net. Just 71 seconds into Game 3, Vegas got its only even-strength high-danger chance, and Jonathan Marchessault converted.

Then 42 seconds later, Jamie Benn took an unconscionable five-minute cross-checking major. For a moment, it looked like the Stars might get a crucial penalty kill and even had a scoring chance short-handed. Seconds later, Vegas got its one good chance on the extended power play, and sure enough, the Golden Knights converted. While not an even-strength situation, Ivan Barbashev's goal exemplified how the Golden Knights have put the "danger" in high-danger chances this postseason.

In fairness to Vegas, after a soft goal on an innocuous backhanded shot that was the last straw for Oettinger and his minus-6.02 postseason GSAx, the Golden Knights didn't need to press the Stars late, only getting six shots in the final two periods.

In the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Golden Knights converted even-strength high-danger chances at a seemingly unsustainable 22.4% rate. They haven't just sustained that rate through three games versus Dallas - they've stretched it.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Golden Knights have converted six of 23 even-strength high-danger chances through three games - a 26% rate. By comparison, here's how three teams fared in this category during the regular season:

  • The highest-scoring team in the league: Oilers (11.1%)
  • The all-time regular-season wins record-holder: Bruins (12.6%)
  • Golden Knights (12.6%)

As we outlined with the Hurricanes and Panthers, the best path in betting on a Stars comeback would be to have the same attitude that the trailing team should have: one game at a time. However, you would be fading a team in Vegas that already has a potentially unprecedented scoring touch going against goaltending that's been, at best, not great. That's without even addressing how the Stars' scoring has gone dry as well.

While the comeback is priced the same in both series, given what we've seen from the Stars, it certainly seems like they have a far worse recipe for a miracle comeback.

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox