2016 NHL Stanley Cup Finals Odds and Prediction
Published on May 30, 2016
The 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Finals arrive in style on Monday night, when the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the San Jose Sharks at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh is not a surprise in the NHL finals, as they were second to only the Washington Capitals in the Metro Division, but the Sharks are the sleeper team of these playoffs, emerging from the Western Conference as the second to last seed.
The big question will be if San Jose’s impressive run can end with another upset, or if Pittsburgh’s experience will win out. No matter which way it shakes out, experts are calling for a full seven-game series, and no one seems to know for sure which team will come out on top.
Sidney Crosby offers the star power for the seasoned and balanced Penguins, who displayed a sound ability to win both at home and on the road, while also exhibiting one of the better offenses in hockey. San Jose is right up there in terms of offense, and has proven to be a nightmare on the road (28-10-3 during the regular season). Their downfall could come on their home ice, however, where they won just 18 games during the regular season.
These teams were separated by just two wins during the regular season and did not have easy roads in the NHL playoffs to get to this point. Neither team boasted a #1 seed out of their region, and had to take down some mighty big challengers to make it this far.
San Jose easily had the tougher path as an underdog team, having faced off with the Los Angeles Kings in round one, surviving an intense seven-game series with the Nashville Predators in round two and dispatching the St. Louis Blues to get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Sharks oddly stepped up their games against the higher seeded opponents, taking down both the Kings and Blues (both 2-seeds) in five and six game series, respectively.
The Penguins didn’t have it a whole lot easier, as they took down the Washington Capitals, who won the most games during the regular season and were a bitter Metro Division rival. Pittsburgh gutted that series out in six games after taking out the New York Rangers (five games) in round one. Arguably their toughest challenge came in the conference finals, where they handled the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.
While the Sharks may have had the tougher path as a lower seed, the case can be made either way, as the Penguins easily handled a fairly feisty Rangers group and then took down two very good Capitals and Lightning teams. One thing is for sure, however: both teams have been impressive during their playoff runs and are truly battle tested as they approach Monday night’s game one showdown.
The early odds at Bovada present a tight series and even though the Penguins are the favorites, they’re not the pick by much:
All we know for sure is that Vegas is looking at this series as basically a toss-up and that betting either way won’t yield a huge return, unless bettors put down a ton of cash. This may be more of a per game betting situation, which puts a huge onus on game one in Pittsburgh on Monday night.
Pittsburgh is the mild favorite to win the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, so it makes sense that they open up as the game one favorite at home. Hockey spreads generally aren’t very big, so it’s no shock to see the Penguins as -1.5 favorites here. Of course, the Sharks have been a real problem for teams on the road all year long and won’t be afraid by any means after enduring an intense path to the Finals.
Penguins -1.5 (+185)
Sharks +1.5 (-225)
Over 5.5 (+120)
Under 5.5 (-140)
The best bet to be played here is Pittsburgh winning by two goals, at least in terms of payout. No other bet pays as much and as the favorite and home team, the odds do support the possibility of them winning by two goals on their home ice. It’s not necessarily a safe bet, but in terms of profit, it’s the best one available.
This could be a battle of strength vs. speed, as the Penguins have the star power and overall talent to run the Sharks off the ice, but San Jose boasts the playoffs’ top three points leaders. In addition, San Jose has been punching in 3.5 goals per game. In other words, there is a lot of offense to be had in this series and the defensive edge narrowly falls in favor for the Penguins.
Pittsburgh has the home court edge, the star power and is simply a more balanced team. Where the power could shift is on the road, where the Sharks have been an absolute terror. The loss of defensemen Trevor Daley hasn’t yet crippled the Penguins, but it certainly could in this series. It will be interesting to see how the Sharks go about exploiting that hole early on, while they have the ability to dominate up front.
No real dominance should be expected from either side, however. These two teams split their season series (2-2) and unsurprisingly, each stole a road win. Pittsburgh had not had much success in San Jose, either, having earned their first victory there since 1997. These two have combined for some real nail-biters, too, with six of their last 12 clashes going into extra time (one OT and five shootouts). San Jose has held the upper hand in those games, winning the one OT game and staying on top, 3-2 in the shootouts.
A lot points to the Penguins winning their second title since 2009, while it’s tough to bet against Sidney Crosby after he really stepped up and seemed to turn a corner against the Lightning. However, the Sharks feel like a team of destiny, and when it comes to the NHL playoffs, sometimes that’s all it takes.
San Jose’s biggest obstacle somehow comes down to closing out games at home, but they have an intense front line and can score with the best of them. If they can limit Crosby and exploit the absence of Daley, they should have enough to narrowly steal this series. They’re the sexy bet as they debut in their first ever Stanley Cup Finals, but they just might be the right bet, as well.
The Penguins covering is still the best overall bet for game one, but we’ll take the Sharks to steal the series and surprise with a game one upset.