The Los Angeles Kings are 10/17 favorites to beat the New York Rangers (3/2) in the Stanley Cup Final, according to online bookmaker Bovada.
That’s a fairly substantial difference in odds, but certainly not unexpected. The Rangers entered the playoffs at 20/1 to win the Cup; only four teams had higher odds than that, while the Kings were at 10/1.
The Kings also have home-ice advantage in the series, thanks to the 100 points they earned during the regular season, compared to the Rangers’ 96. The three teams Los Angeles has already beaten this postseason — San Jose, Anaheim, and Chicago — all finished with at least 107 points.
Is there value in the underdog Rangers? Possibly. Their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist (.928 save percentage), has been significantly better than Jonathan Quick (.906) in these playoffs, and they’ve had since Thursday to rest up for the final, while the Kings took until Sunday to eliminate the Blackhawks.
There’s also this, from the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle:
…the Rangers are a far more dangerous team than their record shows. After pulling out of a tailspin in the opening couple of months under new coach Alain Vigneault, they closed the season 29-13-4, picking up more points (62) in that span than all but two teams.
That’s cherry picking dates a little but the fact was they were basically a 110-point team for a huge portion of the year, something made possible by not only Lundqvist’s return to form but the team adapting to Vigneault’s aggressive, puck pressure system.
The last Eastern Conference team to win the Stanley Cup, the 2011 Boston Bruins, went into the final versus Vancouver as even bigger underdogs than the Rangers.