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Top-10 Stanley Cup Finals bets

10 Jun 2013

By Aaron Todd
The Stanley Cup Finals get underway on Wednesday, with the Boston Bruins facing the Chicago Blackhawks. While hockey isn't one of the biggest draws in a sportsbook, there are a lot of great opportunities for sharp bettors, and a few good ones if you're just looking to take a flier on a long shot, too.

There are so many great hockey bets, in fact, that I even wrote a top-10 list on how to bet on hockey earlier this year.

Now I'm going to put my (proverbial) money where my mouth is and make 10 picks for the Stanley Cup Finals. Each pick will be a $10 fictional wager, with odds that I found listed at a leading online sportsbook.

  • NOTE: Since I live in the United States, I will not actually be making these bets. Please make sure sports betting is legal in your jurisdiction before making any wagers.

10. Over/Under 5 (Game 1)
Chicago had the second-most potent offense in the NHL during the regular season, averaging 3.1 goals per game. They also had the best defense in the league, holding opponents to just 2.02 goals a game. Boston ranked third in the league in defense, allowing only 2.21 goals a game.

While Boston's offense has averaged a robust 3.12 goals a game during the playoffs, the Blackhawks' offense has seen its production drop to 2.76 goals a game. Defensively, the teams rank first (Boston, 1.88) and third (Chicago, 1.94) during the playoffs. This game looks like a low scoring one to me, so I'll take the under, even though the payout isn't very good. The best odds I could find were at William Hill Sportsbook & Racebook, where it was listed at 20/29.

9. 60 minutes correct score: 1-1
Since I think Game 1 will be a close one, this bet is a no brainer because the payout is 20/1 at William Hill. I think there's a very good chance this game goes into overtime, and with the payouts at 8/1 and 7/1 for 2-2 and 3-3 scores, this is easily the best bet.

8. Will there be overtime in Game 1?
Paddy Power Sportsbook and Racebook offers this bet at 11/4 on the "Yes" side. Since I've already said I'm expecting a 1-1 score after 60 minutes, I'm going to double down on this and bet on overtime in the first game of the series.

7. Bryan Bickell vs. Patrice Bergeron (goals)
This bet, offered by Paddy Power, pits the Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell against the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron. Pick the player that scores more goals in the series, and you win. Both players had similar goal totals during the regular season, with Bergeron edging Bickell 10-9. In the playoffs, Bergeron has upped his production, scoring five goals in 16 games, while Bickell has as well, with eight goals in 17 games.

With 11/10 odds on Bickell and a mere 4/6 payout on Bergeron, I'm going to say Bickell's production will continue and take the more generous payout.

6. Series winner
I was really impressed with how easily the Bruins dispatched the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals. They dominated the series, allowing just two goals in four games against the league's most potent offense. I think they're going to find a way to shut down the Blackhawks, too, and I really like that you get better than even money when you pick the Bruins, so I'll take Boston to win the series at 5/4 at William Hill.

5. How long will the series last?
My heart is rooting for an epic seven-game series, but my gut tells me this one is going to end in six. So I'll go with my gut and say the series will last six games at 15/8 at bet365 Sportsbook and Racebook.

4. Series score
After calling the series in six games and Boston to win it, I might as well make an exact pick as well and say Boston will win the Stanley Cup in six games. The best odds I can find (9/2) are offered by Paddy Power and bet365.

3. Game 1/Series double
This bet asks you to pick the winner of Game 1 and the winner of the series. Obviously I'm going to pick Boston to win the series, but I'm actually going to pick Chicago to win Game 1. Paddy Power offers this bet at 4/1.

2. Series after 3 games
I think the Bruins will rebound quickly after losing the first game and will win the next two, making the series 2-1 after three games. You can make this bet at Paddy Power at 8/5 odds.

1. Conn Smythe Trophy winner
Taking Tuuka Rask for the Conn Smythe is easily the best value bet on the board. Paddy Power is offering the Boston goaltender at a whopping 9/2. Even if Boston doesn't win the series, he's still got a great shot at winning the league's playoff MVP award.

Unlike most sports' postseason MVP awards, the Conn Smythe takes into account the entire playoff run. And five of the 47 award winners actually didn't win the Stanley Cup (four of the five were goalies), so Boston doesn't necessarily have to win the series for Rask to win the Conn Smythe.

Rask has been without a doubt the best goaltender in the playoffs, and unless the Bruins get blown out, he's the odds-on favorite to win the Conn Smythe this year.
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