Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is tonight. The final series of the season gets underway with four wins needed in order to lift Lord Stanley's Cup. What is the best way to approach tonight's game?
Note: Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Header links are to numberFire's betting model for each game. All NHL betting odds and totals come from FanDuel Sportsbook.
Under 5.5 Goals (-104)
Game 1's puck drop is on Saturday night, and the series should offer plenty of excitement from start to finish. While the excitement will be there, it doesn't mean we are going to see a ton of scoring. Both teams are playing at a high level right now, and it all starts with their goaltending.
For the Panthers, their netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky is performing at an elite level and is currently the odds-on favorite (+200) to win the Conn Smythe Trophy -- the award for the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP. Through 14 games in the playoffs, Bobrovsky has 19.7 goals saved above expected (GSAx), which is the highest of any goalie that played during the playoffs.
Of course, his sample size is larger than some goalies, but even if we look at his GSAx per 60 minutes in all situations, it sits at 1.318, which is the second-best of any goalie. He's elite -- full stop.
On the other side, we see Adin Hill, who is a story in and of itself. Hill is essentially the fourth-string goalie for Vegas after Logan Thompson was injured early this season. Laurent Brossoit was also injured in the second round of the playoffs.
Depth chart be damned! Adin Hill has stepped in and now sits in third among goalies in the playoffs in GSAx (6.4). With both goalies performing at a very high level, this has led both of their teams to allow just 1.70 goals per 60 minutes in five-on-five situations or less throughout the playoffs. Scoring won't come easier for either side and should set up tense and low-scoring games.
This should lead to under 5.5 goals as the side to back throughout the series until we see otherwise.