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Stanley Cup Finals: Keys To Help You Wager on an NHL Champion

St. Louis Blues vs. Boston Bruins Face Off to Determine Who Will Hoist Lord Stanley

It’s been 49 years, but the St. Louis Blues are back in the Stanley Cup Finals. And if this were a work of fiction, it couldn’t have been written better so far. Ironically, this plot twist has the Blues facing off against their old nemesis. That’s right. Do you recall Bobby Orr’s memorable jump after the winning the 1970 Stanley Cup? His Bruins beat the St. Louis Blues. Is St. Louis going to get their long-awaited revenge for this long-ago Stanley Cup loss? Or will Boston continue to be buoyed by the fantastic goal tending of Tuukka Rask and win their seventh Stanley Cup? Time will tell, but here are some clues to give us some idea of who is most likely to come out on top when you are watching and wagering on this series (you knew I had to sneak that in there, didn’t you? LOL):

The Goalies

The Blues’ Jordan Binnington has definitely enjoyed a meteoric rise from a lesser-known minor league player to a star goalie in only a few months. He has accrued a stunning record of 24-5-1 along with a 1.89 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. There is no question that if Binnington has something to do with it, St. Louis could very well win this series. He kind of reminds me of how the NFL’s Kurt Warner went from simply playing Arena Football and working in a grocery store to being a Super Bowl champion with the St. Louis Rams.

On the other hand, Boston’s Tuukka Rask is a playoff veteran. He has also accumulated a 1.89 GAA in the playoffs, and he turned away 94% of his shots on goal. When we say “steamroll”, Tuukka Rask is a large part of why they have made it this far.

Either way, the key here is to determine which goalie stays hot. The sentimental favorite would of course be Binnington, simply because everyone enjoys a rags-to-riches story. However, Rask is super efficient, and he has more experience.

The Teams: The Hot Streak of the Blues or the Domination of the Bruins?

There is no question that the Boston Bruins have put their playoff opponents in a serious choke hold lately. Since being down by a 2-1 margin to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Bruins have rattled off seven straight playoff wins. They defeated the Blue Jackets 4-2 and they then proceeded to sweep the Hurricanes.

The Blues have not necessarily dominated, but they have been on the hot streak nevertheless. They have defeated the Jets, Stars and Sharks to get to this point, and they have accumulated a respectable 12-7 in the process. Binnington has not posted a save percentage below .900 at all in any of his 18 playoff contests. Moreover, Binnington has only allowed five goals in his last five playoff games. Finally, just take a look at the regular season for the Blues. No, Mr. Binnington hasn’t played a full season yet and he is still just a rookie, but the Blues wouldn’t be in this position without him. St. Louis was a measly 15-18-4 before Binnington took over the net duties from his predecessor. This is going to be an intense goalie contest for sure.

What About Boston’s Top Lines?

The top line of the Bruins is a unit that consists of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron. These three have combined for an unheard-of 3.7 goals per game. They will be a tremendous test for Mr. Binnington, perhaps the hardest one he’s faced all year long.

What about St. Louis’ Defense?

Yes, Binnington has been great in the net for St. Louis, but one of the main reasons for that would be because the defense of the Blues has only allowed him to see 28.2 shots per game. The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask has been every bit as good as Binnington, but he has also had to face 32.3 goals per game. Thus, in order for St. Louis to compete in this series, they have to not only have their defense show up, but they had better have a solid offense to go against Rask.

The Bottom Line As I See It

On paper, the sentimental favorite would definitely have to be the St. Louis Blues. Like I said, Jordan Binnington reminds me of the NFL’s Kurt Warner. However, he only has a half-season of solid play to his credit. Rask has been consistent for a very long time and is likely a future hall-of-famer. Moreover, you always have to consider all of the other factors. Considering that Boston has not only won but also dominated, and considering the fact that they have one of the best top threes we have seen in at least a decade, I think Boston takes it, probably in six. Binnington and the rest of St. Louis will put up a fight, but I don’t think it will enough.

NHL Pick: Boston -160