We wind up comparing a lot of sports-variants (and minor-league outcomes of the same genre) to major sports without thinking of whether the mold fits together on the betting board. Often, 2 leagues that look and sound much alike, for instance MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball, present very disparate betting circumstances and trends. Meanwhile, sports that seem unrelated, like NASCAR and PGA Tour golf, wind up sharing a lot in common in sportsbook odds, right down to the late-season “points chases.”
Hockey and golf are also closely-related in some weird ways. No other sport’s athletes are as encouraged to play golf, not even the aging NBA and NFL players who’ve made a cottage industry out of their offseason hobby through celebrity tee-offs. Golf is a safe, slow exercise for skaters who might otherwise be drinking and carousing, and NHL legends like Grant Fuhr have been said to have secretly obsessed over golf more than ice hockey. Yet the game of golf is also a looming threat and a potential punch-line in spring when the Stanley Cup playoffs arrive. Lose too many games off the bat, and POOF…you’re on the 1st tee.
The PGA Tour and NHL betting communities also overlap. A lot. That’s why it’s strange to see sober, reasonable odds on the upcoming PGA Championship listed at FanDuel (there’s a dearth of strongly-handicapped power hitters, but that’s a subtle mistake) and yet at the same sportsbook, Stanley Cup betting odds that appear to wildly overvalue or underestimate the 8 teams left on the board prior to this week’s quarterfinal-round faceoff.
Colorado has a favorable 2nd-round draw against a slightly-more-fatigued St. Louis Blues club. But the Avalanche probably couldn’t play 3-4 straight series against the Blues and win each single time, as the gambling odds at FanDuel would suggest.
As for the “battle of Florida,” it’s sort of admirable that bettors are overlooking the Tampa Bay Lightning’s chances to mount at least a 3-round title defense and threaten to seal a dynasty with another trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. But it’s nevertheless a tad silly to handicap a defending champ as glumly as the Bolts’ betting odds.
Where is the “Xander Schauffele at 30-to-1” on the current NHL playoff betting board? Perhaps we should be looking for more than one “Xander” left in the mix, even now that the postseason schedule is becoming as simple as X-Y-Z.
Eastern Conference Semifinals: Florida Panthers vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Seems unlikely that many NHL bloggers perceived Tampa Bay as a potential playoff underdog so early in 2022’s Stanley Cup tournament. But the league’s defending champs are coming off a grueling 7-game battle with Toronto, while the Florida Panthers made relatively short work of the star-studded Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, helping to mark the “Cats” as a series-price favorite headed into Game 1 on Tuesday.
The Florida Panthers in uncharted waters despite facing an in-state rival in round 2. However, any “experience” angle pursued by Tampa Bay bettors must be tempered with fair scouting of the opening round, in which the Panthers responded like a club with all kinds of Stanley Cup experience on-hand as Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals poured it on trying to force Game 7. Florida GK Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots as the Cats won 4-3 in OT.
Florida stands as a (-156) moneyline favorite to win at home on Tuesday night, in a game with a massive (7) goal Over/Under line. Regardless of any fatigue issues that could plague the Lightning, the corresponding (+130) odds on Tampa Bay seem awfully pessimistic for such an accomplished team in what’s expected to be a wild contest.
WagerBop’s Pick: Lightning to Win Game 1 (+130)
Western Conference Semifinals: Colorado Avalanche vs St. Louis Blues
The prevailing O/U goal-total line for Tuesday night’s Game 1 in Denver is also offered at (7) goals evenly, though the predominant factor is given away in a series price of 1-to-3 on Colorado to blast the pesky Blues into another offseason. St. Louis, a 2-to-1 underdog to win Game 1 on the road, might have had a fresh-legs advantage in almost any other playoff scenario after whipping the Minnesota Wild in 6 games in the Western Conference quarterfinals. But the Blue Note is unlucky to have drawn Colorado, the team with more rest and leisurely training hours-logged than any NHL team over the past week. What’s more, the Avs are acknowledged to have as strong of an attack as any in the game.
The St. Louis Blues, however, are chronically underrated in Las Vegas for a variety of reasons. The team’s old-fashioned checking system can work wonders against an offense coming out of a long layoff, and the Avalanche must worry themselves about checking a rejuvenated Ruslan Tarasenko and other St. Louis snipers. We expect that Game 1 will be a tighter affair than predicted by odds-makers, even if STL’s market to win is dodgy.
WagerBop’s Pick: Under (7)
Eastern Conference Semifinals: Carolina Hurricanes vs New York Rangers
Fans have charged the NHL’s referees with “stacking” the Toronto-Tampa Bay series to produce a 2nd-round “battle of Florida,” but there is no bigger officiating controversy in the league’s current headlines than the story of the New York Rangers’ debated Game 7 victory over Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh. Marcus Pettersson lost his helmet on a rough encounter with Rangers winger Alexis Lafrenière behind the Pittsburgh net, and immediately headed for the bench as per the NHL rulebook, while protesting that he had been illegally interfered with and that the helmet-loss should have caused a whistle. As fate would have it, the play was controversially not whistled dead, and sniper Artemi Panarin scored a decisive goal on the “artificial” 5-on-4 power play for New York.
Sid the Kid’s post-game remarks, while implicating the NHL for its gaping loophole in the rulebook, also tacitly implied that Pittsburgh had been out-netminded in the opening round. Carolina’s goaltending is plenty solid, but the Rangers have a nice host of up-and-coming stars who are still undervalued by Sin City. Carolina is clearly offered at too-steep of a betting price in Game 1 (-160) and in the series.
WagerBop’s Pick: Rangers to Win Series (+172)
Western Conference Semifinals: Calgary Flames vs Edmonton Oilers
What crazy-vulnerable betting odds WagerBop has found on Canada’s 2nd-round survivors! Unless the great Connor McDavid has caught a case of COVID-19, the current (+160) line on Edmonton to win another in-state” battle is among the best deals of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs. Calgary was impressive against Dallas, but the Stars played a fatigued and desperate Game 7 without anything close to the firepower the Oilers bring to the table.
WagerBop’s Pick: Oilers to Win Series (+160)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.