After nearly a week without playoff hockey, we finally get another taste of postseason puck when the Blues and Bruins open the Stanley Cup Final tonight in Boston. While the Bruins are no stranger to this round of the playoffs, it’s exciting to see the Blues making their first foray to the championship series in nearly 50 years.
It’s also been a while since we’ve published a bet to the site, licking our wounds after 4 straight losses derailed what had been a promising start to the playoffs. The postseason ledger still sits comfortably in the black at +1.6 units, but the regular season is certainly our bread and butter as situational handicappers. We’ll stay selective throughout this Final, although we hope to find a spot or two that we can capitalize on and try to end the season closer to the +10 unit mark we were near a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, you came here to get some betting advice for tonight’s game, so let’s get to that. There’s a couple of angles about Game 1 that we like enough to make a half-unit play here, and you can read about it below. Good luck on whatever you end up betting tonight, and enjoy the opening game of the Stanley Cup Final!
Odds below are at the time we made the pick.
The opening game of this series is obviously tricky to handicap because of how long it’s been since either of these two teams played an actual game. St. Louis has been off for nearly a week since beating the Sharks in 6, while the Bruins have had 11 days’ rest since sweeping the Hurricanes.
A few days to nurse bumps and bruises is nice, but at some point, it interrupts the momentum and groove that you’ve built. Even though the Bruins played an intersquad scrimmage last week, it’s virtually impossible to simulate the emotion and intensity of an NHL game, let alone Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. That’s really unfortunate for the B’s, because they were on a real roll before getting forced into hibernation. Not only has Boston won 7 straight games, the Bruins are also 10-1-1 in regulation dating back to their first-round series against the Leafs. Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask was in the finest form he’s been in all season, allowing two regulation time goals or less in 11 of those 12 contests.
Because of the roll Boston was on and how much longer the Bruins have been off, we think the rest between series slightly favors the Blues. If you take into account how each of these teams fared during the regular season with extended rest, that advantage looks a bit more significant. St. Louis is 7-4-1 this year when playing with at least 3 days rest, while the Bruins were just 1-5-2 in their eight games in that situation. The first period splits are even more dramatic, with St. Louis outscoring opponents 12-3 in the opening frame (going 5-0-3 on the first period moneyline) after 3+ days off while Boston was outscored 8-5 (2-3-2).
You won’t get rich fading the Bruins in first periods at home, and we ultimately like Boston to win this series. But, given the disparity in time off and the drastic difference in performance on 3+ days rest between these two teams, we’ll take a half-unit flier on the Blues First Period Moneyline here at +123 odds. Hopefully, that play cashes, the Blues steal Game 1 against a rusty Bruins squad, and we can back Boston on the series line at a plus-money price tomorrow.
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