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Now that the 2023 Stanley Cup Final is upon us, I’m ready to make my annual NHL bet. The Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights host the Eastern Conference winner Florida Panthers Saturday for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
I played hockey growing up in upstate New York. And the NHL was my favorite sports league until I turned 15 years old. But, as I got older, the NFL, NBA, and MLB eventually replaced the NHL.
Also, I picked up sports betting around the same time as I started driving and the NHL’s regular season is my least favorite sport to bet on. But, I’m procrastinating from betting solely on MLB and spicing up the Stanley Cup Final.
The biggest bet I’ve ever made on a hockey event was in the Vegas Golden Knights’ 1st season in the NHL (2017-18). I faded Vegas in its 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
My logic for fading the Golden Knights five years ago applies to 2023. Even though this Vegas team is the best in the franchise’s short history.
NHL Stanley Cup Final 2023 Odds
- Courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
Stanley Cup Final Series Price
- Vegas Golden Knights (-125)
- Florida Panthers (+105)
Stanley Cup Final Series Spread
This is Vegas’ 2nd Stanley Cup Final appearance in the last six years. It’s is the fourth season over that span the Golden Knights have finished with the most points in the Western Conference.
The Golden Knights opened their chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup with a “gentleman’s sweep” of the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round. They then beat the Edmonton Oilers in the 2nd round and Dallas Stars last round, both in six games.
C Jack Eichel led Vegas with 66 points during the regular season (27 goals and 39 assists). Eichel has the best odds (+425) at DraftKings for the Golden Knights to win the 2023 Conn Smythe Trophy for NHL playoff MVP.
The 8-seed Panthers rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the 1st round to upset the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins 4-3. They got through the 2-seed Toronto Maple Leafs in five games in the 2nd round. Florida then swept the Carolina Panthers in the Eastern Conference final.
Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, and two-time Vezina Trophy winner for best NHL goaltender, is the odds-on favorite to win the Conn Smythe at +210. He leads the playoffs in save rate (.955) for goalies with a minimum of two games played.
The main reason that I’m looking to fade the Golden Knights here is because they play in Vegas. There is going to be lopsided action in the betting market and the sportsbooks are begging for pro-Golden Knights money.
BET: Florida Panthers to win the 2023 Stanley Cup (+105)
The Panthers-Golden Knights odds and line movement are both sketchy. The Golden Knights are the 1-seed out West and the Panthers snuck into the NHL postseason on the final day of the regular season.
When the series price opened, Vegas’s odds to win the title was roughly -130. That price is getting shorter despite the Golden Knights having a better regular season and a lot more playoff experience than the Panthers.
These teams split the regular-season series 1-1 with the home team winning both. However, the Panthers already beat two better teams than the Golden Knights en route to the Stanley Cup Final.
Per NaturalStatTrick.com, the Panthers are only 11th in the playoffs for Corsi rate differential in 5-on-5 hockey. “Corsi” is pretty much “puck control”. Vegas is 14th in Corsi differential and Florida has a higher scoring chance differential.
Furthermore, the Panthers are much better in odd-man situations. Both Florida’s power play conversion (27.9-18.5%) and penalty kill success rates (71.2-63.0%) are better than Vegas’.
Finally, a hot goalie can carry a team in the playoffs. Bobrovsky is one of the best netminders in the NHL with a lot more postseason experience. Vegas goalie Adin Hill made his 1st-career playoff start vs. the Oilers in the 2nd round.
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