The Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning face-off in a series that could easily be decided by a coin flip, but Chicago’s public support has positioned them as a moneyline favorite with NHL odds makers and the hockey betting public!
The Cup Finals begin tonight between Chicago at Tampa Bay and the Hawks are the clear favorite, thanks mostly to their Cup experience. It’s hard finding bettors that are willing to back the Lightning and the current odds are listed at Hawks -133 with Tampa Bay paying back at +113.
Given Tampa’s home ice advantage, their impressive 7-3 road record in the playoffs and the team’s uncanny ability to bounce back from a loss, my Stanley Cup betting money is on the Bolts at plus money.
Tampa Bay fought through playoff battles against the Red Wings, Canadiens and Rangers to earn this bout against Chicago. Detroit took this team to the brink and the Lightning answered with a 5-2 road win followed by a 2-0 home win in Game 7. Round 2, the Bolts needed just six games to dispose of a Montreal team backed by Vezina/MVP candidate Carey Price. On the road, Tampa went 2-1 in that series and in six games, Bishop held the Habs to two or less goals five times.
New York was poised to end Tampa’s run and Henrik Lundqvist was expected to carry his team back into the Finals but Steven Stamkos had different plans. The Lightning scored 21 goals in that seven game series and one would have been enough in Game 7, as Bishop posted his second Game 7-shutout of these playoffs.
Doubters can jump on the Chicago bus but beware: This thing is already on the brink of tipping over from so much public support. Does the betting public ever win when they are so heavily loaded up on “obvious” favorite? Occasionally, but to bet Chicago here you have to lay -133 on the moneyline and this series starts in Florida. Chicago is 5-4 on the road during these playoffs but they’ve been outscored 3.4 to 2.9 (average) and they’ve only held their opponent to fewer than three goals twice in nine matchups away from the Madhouse. In my opinion, this line should be ‘Pick em’ and we’re getting nice value on a Bolts team ready to take that next step.
Pick: Take Tampa Bay to Win the Stanley Cup