Tonight is a rare and important night – game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. This is a night that every Canadian boy has played out in their minds and on skating rinks and driveways endlessly. Personally, I have scored the winning goal in game seven of the Stanley Cup about six million times in my life, and each time has been impressively heroic. The Stanley Cup is the most attractive trophy in sports, and the tradition of skating around the ice hoisting the Cup is the best tradition in sports, so no matter what happens tonight this is going to be a big night. Here are a few thoughts as the game approaches:
– The line and the line movement are a bit odd. The game opened at -170, which made the Wings the biggest favorite of the series. Since then, the betting public has been piling onto the Wings, driving the line up as high as -210 depending on where you look. I understand all that Pittsburgh is up against, but at some point there is going to be some value on betting on the team that the public doesn’t like.
– Both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have been held scoreless in two straight games. Do you know when the last time both guys failed to score in three games was? Never. I expect Pittsburgh to get more primary scoring tonight.
– History is definitely with the favorites. The last time a visiting team won a game seven on the road to win a Championship was in 1979 when the Pirates beat the Orioles in Baltimore. There have been 18 deciding game sevens since. In the NHL, the home team has won 12 of the last 14 Cup deciding games. Pittsburgh will have to buck a well established trend, and do so in a building that hasn’t exactly been kind to them – and in which Detroit has only lost once in the playoffs. No wonder they are heavy underdogs.
– The Penguins have never lost a game seven on the road in four tries. Maybe there is hope after all. Value, preference, and a soft spot for underdogs in general all mean that I’ll be cheering for Pittsburgh tonight.
– No matter who wins, we have learned one thing for sure in these playoffs – new Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma is the real deal. He’ll be in this league for a long time.