We’ve had some interesting line movement since Stanley Cup matchup was set. Let’s take a look how the NHL odds have shifted around and figure out what the public and sharps are doing.
How’s The Series Line Moved?
The Chicago Blackhawks opened up as a -120 favorite on NHL odds to win the Stanley Cup final and that’s factoring that they don’t actually have home-ice advantage. Even though the Tampa Bay Lightning have that edge, they opened at even money. However, the initial move in the first few days of action at The Greek was that the line climbed as bettors piled in on the Blackhawks. Chicago got as high as -150 and sat there until about the middle of Monday. Then, we started to see some steam back on the Lightning to push the line back down to -130.
How’s The Game 1 Line Moved?
While there’s been plenty of movement on the line for the series, there’s also been some action on the line for Game 1. Pinnacle opened the Lightning as a -116 favorite for Game 1 but as of last check on Monday night, the Lightning are now a -127 favorite. The line got as high as -130 before coming back down to sit at -127.
So Why The Movement?
At this point, it’s hard to say but for the most part, it’s personal preference. The Blackhawks opened at -120, which I thought was a fair line. This team has looked vulnerable at times this postseason and barely survived a seven-game series with Anaheim to get here. Combined with the fact that they don’t have home-ice advantage, you can’t lay too much juice with them.
At the same time, the Blackhawks do have such a strong edge in experience that it’s hard to bet against them. They just look like a team that’s destined to win the Cup while the Lightning are happy to be here. More people had faith in Chicago to start, which is why the line climbed, but once it hit -150, there was too much value to pass up on the Lightning. They aren’t a pushover and at +130 on Tampa Bay, you might have some opportunities to buy this back later and hedge to make some money. That’s why the action seemingly came in on Tampa Bay once the moneyline got out of hand.
Was The Line Movement Right?
I typically buy into the first line movement as I believe that that’s where the most value is and I believe that’s when sharps hit it the most. That being the case, I am more inclined to agree with the initial movement than the latter one when the money came back on Tampa Bay.
I don’t think home-ice advantage really helps Tampa Bay here as they are just 5-5 at home in the playoffs and Chicago is strong wherever they play. I can’t see this series being any better than 1-1 for Tampa Bay after two games.
The other factor is that it looks like – at least to me – that Chicago has gotten stronger as the postseason has worn on. Corey Crawford has settled down (.929 save percentage in the last two rounds) and the offense has perked up. I also believe that the Western Conference is stronger than the East.
That being the case, I think Chicago at -120 or even now at -130 is the NHL pick for this series. The initial line movement was the right one.