NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins

After a 5-1 win in Game 6 last night, the St. Louis Blues eliminated the San Jose Sharks from the playoffs. Now the Blues will shift gears and focus on the ultimate goal: The Stanley Cup. The Boston Bruins have been awaiting the Western Conference winners since May 16 after sweeping the Carolina Hurricanes.

You can place bets for your predicted Stanley Cup winner over on the DraftKings Sportsbook. The Bruins are the favorites in the finals, but how have the odds looked over the course of the season?

Stanley Cup Winner Odds Throughout the Season

Start of Season: Bruins (+1150), Blues (+2300)
Start of Playoffs: Bruins (+1100), Blues (+1500)
After Round 1: Bruins (+400), Blues (+525)
After Round 2: Bruins (+170), Blues (+265)
Stanley Cup Finals: Bruins (-155), Blues (+130)

Note: All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook

Here’s a history lesson for you: Boston and St. Louis are the only two cities to meet in every finals of the big four sports leagues. This will be the 11th time, with Boston holding a 7-3 edge in the cities’ series. The Celtics beat the St. Louis Hawks three times, the Red Sox and the Cardinals are tied at two apiece, and the St. Louis Rams were down 1-0 to the New England Patriots before the franchise moved back to Los Angeles (and eventually lost to the Patriots again.) The Bruins and Blues have met in one previous Stanley Cup Final, where Bobby Orr scored his historical championship-winning overtime goal while being tripped. The statue of that exact moment will serve as a reminder to Blues nation when the series starts Monday.

The odds are in the Bruins’ favor. They will have had 10 days of rest before puck drop, compared to the Blues’ five days. Some might argue that much rest could diminish a team’s momentum, but if you’re not able to get motivated for the Stanley Cup Final, you likely wouldn’t be there in the first place. Boston also has the better regular season record, therefore giving it home-ice advantage.

Fortunately for St. Louis, home ice hasn’t mattered much this postseason. Teams with home-ice advantage have won only half of the 14 series. The Blues themselves won two of their three series without it. On the other hand, the Bruins made use of home ice in all three of their series. Point being; you shouldn’t base your bets solely off of the team with the better record.

Looking at the general stats makes this matchup seem very even. In the two games played during the regular season, they each beat the other in their respective home arenas. The Bruins’ playoff opponents had 297 total points on the season, the Blues’ opponents had 293. Both teams even have scored 57 goals to this point of the playoffs. But there are some clear differences when we dig deeper.

The glaring gaps are in the goalkeeping and special teams. Boston’s Tuukka Rask has been unbelievably good thus far, holding the B’s opponents to 1.94 goals against per game, the lowest in the postseason. St. Louis is fifth in the playoffs with 2.53. The Bruins have the fourth-best postseason penalty kill at 86.3%, while the Blues are ranked 11th at 78%. And, perhaps most importantly, the Bruins have the league’s best power play unit, entering the Stanley Cup Final with a 34% success rate, almost double that of the Blues (19.4%).

In the end, stats can be irrelevant — especially when it comes to playoff hockey. Regardless of the outcome, this should be an exciting end to what has been an unpredictable Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.

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