Goalies Overcome NHL Odds

Unlike the Miami Heat, which were given better than a 50 percent chance of winning the NBA title before the season began, the Chicago Blackhawks (5%) and Boston Bruins (4%) were given very little chance of winning the Stanley Cup but now start the Finals on Wednesday behind the two top goalies - Blackhawk Corey Crawford and Bruin Tuukka Rask in both goals allowed (1.74 to 1.75 respectively) and save percentage (93.5% and 94.3% respectively).

Even the preseason favorite Pittsburgh Penguins were given only an eight percent chance in the much more open NHL, where underdogs win much more often than in the NBA - often behind a hot goalie like Crawford or Rask. The odds presented are based on a Breitbart Sports adjustment to remove the house commission from the odds presented by Bovada. The teams given the least chance at less than one percent were the New York Islanders, which threatened the Penguins in the playoffs, and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who went into their final game with a chance to make the playoffs in the ever unpredicable NHL. The following are the percentages given each team before the first puck was dropped:

Bovada Preseason Odds House % Real %
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/1 11% 8%
New York Rangers 9/1 10% 8%
Vancouver Canucks 10/1 9% 7%
Los Angeles Kings 12/1 8% 6%
Philadelphia Flyers 13/1 7% 5%
Chicago Blackhawks 14/1 7% 5%
Detroit Red Wings 15/1 6% 5%
St. Louis Blues 16/1 6% 4%
Boston Bruins 16/1 6% 4%
Minnesota Wild 18/1 5% 4%
San Jose Sharks 20/1 5% 4%
Carolina Hurricanes 22/1 4% 3%
Washington Capitals 25/1 4% 3%
Nashville Predators 25/1 4% 3%
Buffalo Sabres 25/1 4% 3%
New Jersey Devils 28/1 3% 3%
Tampa Bay Lightning 28/1 3% 3%
Edmonton Oilers 30/1 3% 2%
Toronto Maple Leafs 35/1 3% 2%
Colorado Avalanche 40/1 2% 2%
Montreal Canadiens 40/1 2% 2%
Phoenix Coyotes 40/1 2% 2%
Anaheim Ducks 40/1 2% 2%
Florida Panthers 40/1 2% 2%
Ottawa Senators 40/1 2% 2%
Calgary Flames 50/1 2% 1%
Dallas Stars 50/1 2% 1%
Winnipeg Jets 60/1 2% 1%
New York Islanders 75/1 1% 1%
Columbus Blue Jackets 150/1 1% 1%

The Blackhawks then started the season with a record streak of getting at least one point in each game, but Pittsburgh countered by almost recording the longest win streak ever, and by start of the playoffs, the two teams had by far the best odds, but were both still given less than a one in five chance of winning (18% Pittsburgh, 17% Chicago). Boston was in a distant third at 8 percent.

Bovada Odds Prior to Playoffs House % Real %
Pittsburgh Penguins 7/2 22% 18%
Chicago Blackhawks 15/4 21% 17%
Boston Bruins 17/2 11% 8%
Montreal Canadiens 12/1 8% 6%
Anaheim Ducks 12/1 8% 6%
St. Louis Blues 14/1 7% 5%
Los Angeles Kings 14/1 7% 5%
Vancouver Canucks 14/1 7% 5%
San Jose Sharks 16/1 6% 5%
Washington Capitals 16/1 6% 5%
New York Rangers 18/1 5% 4%
Toronto Maple Leafs 20/1 5% 4%
Minnesota Wild 22/1 4% 3%
Detroit Red Wings 28/1 3% 3%
Ottawa Senators 28/1 3% 3%
New York Islanders 40/1 2% 2%

By the Conference Finals, Pittsburgh was up to 36 percent as they faced Boston, which was still only given a 16 percent chance of winning it all before demolishing the Penguins. 

Bovada Odds Prior to Conference Finals House % Real %
Pittsburgh Penguins 3/2 40% 36%
Chicago Blackhawks 12/5 29% 26%
Los Angeles Kings 10/3 23% 21%
Boston Bruins 9/2 18% 16%

Follow John Pudner on twitter at @jpudner.


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