Stanley Cup Finals: Low Scoring Game 5 Offers Great Value

Thursday, June 9, 2016 1:21 PM GMT

Our very own professional NHL handicapper breaks down Thursday’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Go inside to read this revealing article which culminates with a NHL pick.

Penguins on Cusp of Capturing Stanley Cup
Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals takes place tonight at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The opening faceoff is slated at 8:05 PM ET. By virtue of their 3-1 win in Game 4 at San Jose, Pittsburgh holds a commanding 3-1 series lead, and with a win this evening would capture their franchise's fourth ever Stanley Cup. Current NHL odds at Bookmaker has Pittsburgh as a large -180 money line favorite, and the posted total is 5.0.

Tonight could possibly mark the first time ever that Pittsburgh would've won a Stanley Cup at home. The first three Stanley Cup clinching wins came on the road. As a matter of fact, the last time a Pittsburgh team in the NHL, NBA, NFL or MLB won a title at home was when the Pirates won the 1960 World Series over the Yankees.

The Side
It would be easy to side with Pittsburgh tonight. After all, they've clearly been the better team in terms of having a territorial edge during this series, and they'll be inspired by a charged up atmosphere at home. However, let's also keep in mind, San Jose has been the best road team in the NHL this season, and will in all likelihood be playing with a high degree of urgency tonight. Having said all of this, I'm going to pass on a money line or puck line wager in this matchup, and instead will opt for a bet on the total.

The Total
Each of the first four games of this series has gone under the total. Games 1 through 3 all had an opening total of 5.5. The sportsbooks adjusted to a total of 5.0 for Game 4, and have elected to stay with that number for Game 5.

Low scoring games at this time of the year aren't unusual. Since1996, and excluding pushes, Stanley Cup Finals games have gone 64-36 (64%) under the total. My personal sports betting adage has always been, “numbers don't lie and liars don't figure”. Need I say more?

Going back to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh has now gone under the total in five straight games. During that span, they've allowed just 1.6 goals and 22.6 shots on net per game.

Martin Jones of San Jose and Matt Murray from Pittsburgh has both been outstanding in this series. Jones has posted a stellar .925 save percentage and Matt Murray a slightly better .929 during the first four games.

Final Take and Pick
I look for San Jose to play a similar style in which they exhibited during Game 4. They held Pittsburgh to only 20 shots on goal in that contest, and that was the Penguins lowest output of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their previous low was 23 shots on goal in Game 3 of the Washington series that took place back on May 2nd. It snapped a string of 13 consecutive games in which Pittsburgh amassed 30 or more shots on goal.

The defensemen of Pittsburgh are collectively playing their best hockey of the season, and have done so at the most opportune time. Considered a bit of a liability heading into the playoffs, they've been anything but, and have actually have became stronger as the postseason progressed.

If you haven't guessed so already, I'll have a strong lean toward going under the total. One of my NHL picks for tonight's game will be clearly indicative of that previous statement.

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Free NHL Pick: Under 5 (+110)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage