In the world of sports, it’s often rare that a highly anticipated championship matchup between two heavyweight teams actually lives up to its billing. More often than not, the hype machine promotes a “showdown for the ages” to boost TV ratings only to see one team wipe the floor with the other.
In the past year alone, we’ve seen Alabama blow out Notre Dame in the FBS title game, the Giants sweep the Tigers in the World Series and the Heat dismantle the Thunder in just five games to hoist the NBA Title.
However, despite this recent trend, such is not the case for this year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
Before the series began, fans and talking heads alike raved endlessly about the Original Six matchup between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks. Many expected a long, ultra-competitive, back and forth series, mostly due to the fact that the two powerhouses were seen as equals with neither side holding much of an edge over the other.
Through three games, the conventional wisdom has proven to be correct: the Bruins and Blackhawks are about as evenly matched as you can get.
After the two teams exchanged thrilling overtime wins in Games 1 and 2, the Bruins posted a 2-0 victory in Game 3 to grab a 2-1 series lead.
The scoring has been relatively close (7-5 Boston) along with the shots on goal (125-117 Boston) and hits (140-120 Boston).
The two notable difference makers have been Tuukka Rask in net (he hasn’t allowed a goal since the first period of Game 2) and the Bruins power-play (2-9 thus far compared to 0-11 for Chicago). But as many hockey fans know, a hot goalie or power play can turn cold with the blink of an eye: oftentimes it just comes down to the bounce of a puck.
Before breaking down Game 4, let’s take a look back to see how each game has played out thus far, including the opening and closing lines, moneyline percentages and final scores.
|Game||Opening Line||Closing Line||Moneyline %||Final Score|
|1||Blackhawks -144||Blackhawks -154||53% on Blackhawks||Blackhawks, 4-3 (3OT)|
|2||Blackhawks -150||Blackhawks -150||58% on Bruins||Bruins, 2-1 (OT)|
|3||Bruins -125||Bruins -129||70% on Bruins||BBruins, 2-0|
As you can see, the favorite has won two out of the first three games (the lone upset coming when the Bruins won Game 2 in OT).
Normally, the public’s obsession with betting on favorites has produced a killing for the sportsbooks and burnt a hole in the pockets of the public.
However, as we noted in our Stanley Cup Finals Preview, betting on favorites has actually been extremely profitable during the Finals and, through the first three games, continues to be this time around as well.
So where is the sharp money falling for Game 4?
According to our NHL Betting Trends data, the Bruins are currently receiving 64% of moneyline bets as a -135 home favorite for Game 4.
The lack of reverse line movement or profitable system plays on either side points to the fact that sharp money has not taken a side for this matchup and much of the data, if not all, is a result of public betting.
However, one notable caveat is the dramatic change in the series price. At the outset, the Blackhawks were a -145 favorite to win the series. But now, following their Game 3 victory, the Bruins are listed as -250 favorites.
This massive turnaround speaks to how confident the sportsbooks appear to be in the Bruins winning the Cup, or how unlikely they view a Chicago comeback, whichever way you look at it.
What do you think?
After three games, has your pick changed? Will you continue to ride the favorite for the rest of the series? Do you see the Blackhawks staging a comeback? Or are the Bruins poised to raise their second Cup in three years?
Regardless of which side you take, be sure to visit our NHL Betting Trends page to see if sharp money makes an appearance on game-day. Also, follow us on Twitter (@SportsInsights) for late-breaking updates, such as the status of injured Chicago star Marian Hossa.