As an Ottawa Senators fan it’s tough to move on from last night, knowing that the Sens were just one bounce away from playing for the Stanley Cup, in what I think would have been a very winnable series for them. With that said, here we are with a Pittsburgh Penguins vs Nashville Predators finals. I didn’t really want to get back into analyzing the Stanley Cup Finals so soon after my team has been eliminated, but when I saw the odds for the series I figured I needed to get a post up jumping on them because I do not expect them to remain how they have opened for very long. With that said, let’s get into the odds and then I’ll give my breakdown.
I’m using the best odds from any of our top rated sportsbooks in the following table:
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2017 Stanley Cup Finals Winner Odds
Right off the bat, you can see that these odds won’t stay the same for long because Bet365 and Bodog/SIA have such drastically different lines for this series. In fact, as the odds are while I’m writing this article, there is actually a small arbitrage opportunity with these odds, which means you could bet both sides and guarantee yourself a profit (a great reason to always compare odds).
I personally think one of the lines is the correct line, and I have jumped on the other line with a big bet before it moves, which I expect it to do.
Let’s get this out of the way right now. I’m taking the Predators at odds of 2.50 at Bet365.com to win the 2017 Stanley Cup.
The more I look at this series the more questions I have, but I cannot wrap my head around the Predators being this big of dogs heading into the finals. I see the series as a pick’em series completely. Even if you give the Penguins an edge it would be the slightest of edges, which would have the Preds maybe at odds of 2.15 at worst.
Yes, the Predators lost Ryan Johansen after game 4 in the Ducks series and this will surely play a factor in the Finals, but they were still able to win the next two games without him and close out the Ducks in 6. Mike Fisher and Craig Smith are both expected to be back for the Finals, so overall this Preds team isn’t overly banged up at this point in the playoffs, despite losing their top center.
Secondly, I think people are giving the Pens way too much credit for how they looked in their series with the Senators. Yes, the Pens controlled the play, but that was by design from the Sens. The Senators chose to give up some control of the puck in order to prevent the Pens from using their potent counter attack, which had been able to light up both the Jackets and the Capitals. And playing that style by the Senators came within one bounce of working. Let’s not forget that the Capitals easily outplayed the Penguins in the second round, and you could even argue that the Jackets controlled play against the Penguins, they just completely forgot how to defend late in the season and into the playoffs.
This style of play by the Senators avoided the Penguins counter attack, but it also didn’t put tremendous pressure on the Penguins defensive corps in their own end. This short term memory may have many people thinking that the Penguins defense is better than it truly is. I will admit that the Penguins defense is likely better than it is on paper, but we will truly see just how good they are against this Preds team that just continues to come forward and seems to always have a man on the puck.
The fact that the Penguins have two superstar centermen could pose a problem for the Preds who have liked to match the Ekholm-Subban pairing against the other teams top line. The Josi-Ellis pairing will have to also show that they can defend against an elite player in this series, but I think they should be up to the task. I expect Ekholm and Subban to continue to shut down whoever they face, so it will really be up to the other center between Crosby and Malkin (whoever the Preds decide not to focus on) to pick up the slack offensively for this Pittsburgh team.
Looking at how each team plays from the goaltender out I actually give a slight edge to the Preds who have been dominant in both results and the eye test these playoffs. For me the question mark comes in goal. For some reason, I’m still having to give the edge to Matt Murray in net. He’s the perfect goaltender for playoff hockey. He’s always in the right spot, doesn’t scramble, and very rarely gives up a bad goal. Rinne has been playing lights out in these playoffs, but can he keep it up against a team with elite forwards who can create chances when it’s least expected.
Overall, I really see this series as a pick’em. If the Preds forecheck can cause problems for the Penguins defense without giving up too many odd man chances to the potent Penguins forwards, and Rinne can at least match Murray in net then I see the Preds getting the job done in this series.
Play: Predators 2.50 @ Bet365.com
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