Handicapping the NHL: Stanley Cup Finals Game 5
Handicapping the NHL: Stanley Cup Finals Game 5
Game 4 Recap

Not only did the Capitals cover the spread in Game 4, they also covered the Puck Line (-2.5) which would have brought home a nice +330 return, and used their six-goal outburst to easily reach the over (5.5) at even money.

Considering the 6-2 score line, it shouldn't come as a surprise my Evgeny Kuznetsov over Reilly Smith hot take succeeded in resounding fashion, thanks to a four-assist performance for No. 92. Obviously, the goalie shutouts didn't hit, but we all knew that was a longshot from the onset.

After a one-game loss for the Field in the game-winning goal competition, it was Devante Smith-Pelly who restored order to the universe and netted the +350 ROI. You'll have to keep reading (or just scroll straight to the bottom) to see what today's guest picker Daniel Negreanu has to say regarding Game 5.

Game 5 Odds

With a commanding 3-1 series lead, it should come as little surprise that Washington is now sitting at -700 ($14.29 return on a $100 bet), while Vegas is +450. If you are a diehard fan, but missed out on them to win the cup at 500/1 this past summer, I guess this is your chance to dive right in or double-down if you are still holding that ticket.

Here is what we are looking at for Game 5:

Washington+1.5 (-235)+125Over (-115)
Vegas-1.5 (+195)-145Under (-105)

Given the Golden Knights are at home with their backs against the wall, it makes sense to see the oddsmakers laying them as the favorites for Game 5; however, it's not by much with a Moneyline set at -145. Washington has been phenomenal on the road in the playoffs (9-3) and seem to be immune to the Vegas Flu, which could make their +125 one of the more popular bets of the night.

This is especially true when you take into account that picking the Caps to cover will only bring in -235 odds. If you are on them to win this Game 5 matchup, you will absolutely want to navigate to the Moneyline given the return here. Personally, I don't love the spread bets tonight for this reason, along with a strong gut feeling we are going to be watching a one-goal game (but take that at face value).

I missed ever so slightly – OK, maybe not so slightly – on my suggestion that the over would land at six in Game 4 (it was eight). But after dishing out even money last time out, the odds have shifted back to what we saw in Game 3 in which you won't quite get back the full dollar amount on either end of this bet. To me, that's a good indication to just walk away from this one Thursday.

Puck Line

One of the most popular alternative bets in hockey is the Puck Line. Essentially it boils down to a spread bet in favor of the underdog.

Washington has won by a margin of two goals or more in two of three Final victories, making the Puck Line of Capitals -1.5 (+310) a very intriguing option for Game 5. Significantly more so than a Golden Knights blowout (-2.5), even if the return is the same (+310).


Who will record more points in the game?

Here is the matchup that I find the most intriguing for Thursday's contest:

Matt Niskanen (WAS) +180
Colin Miller (VGK) +180
Tie (+130)

In each of the previous iterations of this article, we've looked solely at forward battles. So, in the interest of shaking it up, let's dive into a pair of defenders. The first important factor to look at is power-play ice time, which is generally when blueliners have the best chance to notch some points. Miller is sitting at a 2:39 average in the postseason, while Niskanen is barely seeing the ice with the man advantage at 0:23 per game. Still, it's the hard-shot Caps defender who is leading this two-man race with nine points to Miller's six. Two final factors bettors will want to account for in this matchup is that Niskanen has played four more games, so their per game point totals are closer (.39 to .31); however, Miller is dealing with a broken nose and could see a decrease in ice time.

Player to score the game winning goal

Sure, the odds on picking which one of the 40 dressed players gets the game-winning goal won't be particularly favorable on any given night, But, let's be honest, it's a fun bet to take a flyer on.

For the game-winning goal discussion, I decided to turn to Poker Legend and occasional PuckCast guest Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) for his take on who will get the game-winning goal Thursday. Despite better odds with options like Jonathan Marchessault (+900) or James Neal (+1000), Kid Poker went with Reilly Smith (+1400) who netted four of these decisive goals in the regular season along with another one in the playoffs.

As for the rest, Alex Ovechkin's odds have dropped to a series low +650 while Game 4 healthy scratch David Perron sits at +2500 and the Field remains +350 while returning three of the four GWG in the Stanley Cup Final.

I want to thank Daniel for taking a quick break from his hectic World Series of Poker schedule (which you can follow along with on his WSOP Vlog), as well as all of you who have checked out this article series thus far; hopefully, we have a couple more to go. As always, if you have questions about the article, or have a specific bet you'd like explored ahead of a potential Game 6, please post in the comments section or you can hit me up on Twitter @AJScholz24.

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AJ Scholz
Co-Host of PuckCast with Statsman and AJ and unabashed Penguins fan.
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