For a lot of hockey fans, the Stanley Cup Final has become sort of forgettable. After all, it’s been pretty clear that, even when they take their best shot, the Montreal Canadiens aren’t in the same league as the Tampa Bay Lightning.
However, for sports bettors, this has been a memorable series for a number of reasons. Not only were the Lightning very short series favorites at -275, but bettors were offered one of the most egregious game lines of the playoffs in Game 3 when the Lightning were as low as -120 on the moneyline. On Friday, when discussing this with Gill Alexander on the VSiN airwaves, I told him and the viewers that there was a lot of value in betting the Lightning and that if they won the game it would result in a price correction to around -150 and I was right.
DraftKings lists the Lightning as -155 favorite in Game 4 with the Canadiens coming back on the other side with +133 odds. Some bettors will compare this price to that of the last game and think there’s value in betting the Canadiens, but please consider this: The betting line in Game 3 was ludicrous and the correction is warranted. The Lightning should have never been anywhere near those odds, and the Game 4 odds more accurately reflect the underlying probabilities of the game. Therefore, I’ve turned my attention to the total, but not in the way that one might think. This will be the sixth time in the playoffs that the Lightning have a chance to clinch a series and although they haven’t finished the job the first time, every time, none of the five previous games have resulted in more than five goals total.
In fact, over the past two seasons, the Lightning played in 11 games in which they had a chance to eliminate their opponents. Those games are 8-1-2 to the Under and the Lightning have held those teams to just 1.64 goals per game. This trend is proof that head coach Jon Cooper has a game plan in these types of situations and his team responds well. Sure, the players would love to celebrate a Stanley Cup-clinching victory on home ice with their fans, but this group has a killer instinct and bettors should expect them to shut the Canadiens down once and for all in Game 4. The total is set at 5 flat and bettors can take +112 on the game to go Under that mark. Given the Lightning’s penchant for choking teams out in times like these, and the Canadiens inability to truly solve Andrei Vasilevskiy, there’s some value to be had here.
However, my strategy all series long, outside of betting the Lightning, has been to bet against human achievement. Vasilevskiy is a brick wall and the Canadiens don’t have very many players that can shoot the puck with precision. The bets often come with a lot of chalk, but there’s value to be found in betting on Canadiens players not to score any points. For example, Shea Weber may have gotten a point in the last game due to Phillip Danault’s effort, but both players haven’t found themselves on the score sheet very often in these playoffs. It might be a little tough to stomach laying -215 on a player not to score a point, given how random the sport is, but bettors should shop around and find the best odds because Weber has only registered a point in six playoff games while Danault has only produced a point on four occasions.