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When people see a post telling them to avoid betting certain teams to win the Stanley Cup, there's a tendency to overreact. The automatic assumption is the author thinks those teams suck.
Spoiler: I don't.
The 2019 Stanley Cup finalists are among the top three favorites to lift the trophy in June, just behind the league-leading Washington Capitals.
|St. Louis Blues||8-1|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||9-1|
*only teams with odds shorter than 15-1 are displayed
Both teams have earned a place atop the oddsboard, but at 8-1 and 9-1, there's next to no value in backing either to win the Stanley Cup. There's enough evidence to believe those prices are inflated, partially due to misleading records and recency bias.
The Blues have been one of the league's best and most consistent teams over the past calendar year, but a 2.53 expected goals for per game (xGF/60) shows they're not as good as the club's record indicates. That mark, which ranks 23rd, is largely rooted in the Blues struggling to create scoring opportunities.
They're also 23rd in scoring chances per game (SCF/60) and 27th in high-danger chances per 60 minutes (HDCF/60). St. Louis has been converting a high percentage of its opportunities, which means the Blues are inevitably due for some regression. It's difficult to remain consistently successful against NHL-caliber goalies without a proven ability to generate quality chances. Of course, the Blues play smart fundamental hockey and don't approach games intending to simply outscore teams, but these numbers are at least cause for some concern.
St. Louis will never sizzle offensively, and injuries to some key forwards aren't helping. But the team's defensive numbers are perhaps even more worrisome.
The Blues are middle of the pack in expected goals against per game (17th), and in preventing high-danger scoring chances against (16th). They've come to rely heavily on a league-high .854 save percentage in high-danger situations. Jordan Binnington is good, but that's unsustainable.
The Bruins, meanwhile, may not find it difficult to suppress offense, but creating it is a problem.
They rank 21st in xGF/60 and, like the Blues, an inability to muster consistent scoring opportunities is the main culprit. Boston ranks 17th in SCF/60 and 25th in HDCF/60 while benefiting greatly from a 22.8 shooting percentage during high-danger chances. That's the fourth-highest mark in the league and an efficient source of offense that will be hard to sustain. In fact, we've already seen that number come down significantly from a month ago when Boston ranked first in that category.
Since Dec. 5 the Bruins have won just nine games while losing 14. They're playing well-below .500 hockey, and with the Tampa Bay Lightning surging behind them, their once seemingly insurmountable Atlantic Division lead is slipping from their grasp.
It's also worrying that Boston is struggling against top teams. Excluding the Bruins, 10 teams have notched 60-plus points heading into the All-Star break. The Bruins have produced a 5-11 record against those squads that they'll likely be facing on a nightly basis in the playoffs.
While the Blues and Bruins undoubtedly possess the talent to again reach the finals, where's the value in backing them at such short odds given these flaws?
Only one team has appeared in back-to-back Stanley Cup finals over the past decade - the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017 - and at these prices, you definitely shouldn't be betting St. Louis or Boston to become the second.
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.
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