The odds for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final have been going back and forth, well, much like a hockey game.
Oddsmakers opened the Los Angeles Kings as -120 road favorites against the New Jersey Devils on May 26, falling in love with L.A.’s unstoppable momentum which has carried the team to a 12-2 record in the postseason, including a perfect 8-0 mark on the road.
However, as Game 1 drew closer, books started to question their opening numbers. Even though the action on Wednesday’s series opener has been fairly even, most markets have trimmed the moneylines and even had the Devils as slight favorites Wednesday afternoon.
“We had a change of heart for Game 1,” Jay Kornegay, sportsbook director for the LVH in Las Vegas told Covers
. “Looking at it closer, the Kings had eight days off and we don’t think they’re going to be at their best. They might come out a little rusty.”
Los Angeles finished off the Phoenix Coyotes in five games in the Western Conference final on May 22 and had to wait until New Jersey edged the New York Rangers in seven games in the Eastern Conference final on May 25.
That long layoff coupled with the Devils’ home-ice advantage and Stanley Cup experience is a big reason why books have adjusted their prices. Many analysts expect the Kings to be holding their sticks a little too tight for Game 1, which is common among young hockey teams in big-game situations.
Most notably, New Jersey veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur is playing in his fifth Cup final – having won three – and has also been in huge international games with Team Canada as well. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has only been in the NHL for five years, playing in just 26 postseason contests. Quick has been stellar in the playoffs, boasting a 1.54 GAA.
“When you’re handicapping a game like this, experience counts,” says Kornegay. “I could see Quick coming out and being very nervous and white knuckled through the first two periods. Brodeur isn’t as good as he used to be, but he’s been there before.”
With the puck set to drop at 8 p.m. ET at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, many markets are dealing a pick’em price with both sides at -105. Some offshore books have moved the Kings back into the favorites role, pricing L.A. at -106 (Devils -102).
Offshore book, SportsInteraction.com
, says the Kings are receiving about 60 percent of the action for Game 1, but a lot of sharp money came in on the Devils at +100 earlier in the week.
"The Devils know you have to get it done at home if you are going to be successful," SportsInteraction oddsmaker Gregg Sindall told Covers
. "Taking all of that into consideration – the urgency to win at home, L.A.’s layoff – there was probably some value in New Jersey at even money at home to open the series."
Los Angeles is still a -170 favorite to win the Stanley Cup over New Jersey, which is set at +150.
“We think the Kings are the better team, but just not in Game 1,” says Kornegay.
The total for Game 1 opened at 4.5 goals and action on the over has moved some numbers to five. Most books are dealing 4.5 with increased vig on the over as high as -135.
"Unless we see a crazy influx of action on the Over in the next couple hours, I don’t think we will be going to 5," says Sindall.Track the latest line moves for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final here.