Stanley Cup Final betting: Looking at in-series value after Game 2
The Panthers better hope that home-ice advantage - which hasn't been all that relevant throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs - is a series-changer Thursday night. Home teams went 19-31 in the first round and have been essentially a 50-50 proposition since. With the Stanley Cup Final heading down to Sunrise for the first time in the finals, the Panthers will hope the sun doesn't set on their championship hopes.
Series: Golden Knights (-500) vs. Panthers (+400)
At even strength, the Golden Knights haven't generated pressure - measured in expected goals - or high-danger chances at a wildly greater level than their opponents. However, a gap in goaltending quality led to disaster for Florida in Game 2.
Adin Hill has 3.17 goals saved above expected this series, while the Panthers' netminders combined for minus-3.54 GSAx. That's an almost seven-goal gap. The Golden Knights got back to doing what they do best Monday - converting even-strength high-danger chances at an outlandish rate. Vegas had 10 such chances in Game 2 and scored four goals.
Panthers head coach Paul Maurice says he has "complete faith in what (Sergei Bobrovsky) can do in Game 3." What else could he say? We knew before the series that the Panthers would need at least average goaltending, and they haven't gotten that yet. That's the first step to turning this series around. Scoring more on Hill - whose play has been surprisingly awesome - would help too.
We're still waiting on Florida's first power-play goal of the series, while Vegas scored the first and last of its seven goals in Game 2 on the man advantage. That's something few could've seen coming given that the Panthers converted 28% of their power plays coming into this series, while the Golden Knights had converted just 18%.
Florida is the slight favorite for Thursday's game. The +400 payout on a Panthers series comeback suggests they can win four of the next five games 20% of the time.
That means a bet on the Panthers at this point is a bet on whether you think Maurice is onto something - that Bobrovsky will be better (and Hill worse). That'd give Florida a chance to translate the comparable even-strength metrics to a more even result on the scoreboard.
Ideally, the Panthers will be more disciplined. But looking at most of the penalties taken, it's hard to know where the line is between playing aggressively and out of control. Vegas is 4/11 on the power play, while Florida is 0/7. Those will need to get closer to level after the next two games. I'm willing to believe that'll happen in the two games in Sunrise - the Panthers could go 3/9 on the power play while the Golden Knights go 1/7.
Accomplishing these two hypothetical goals might get this series back to even, at which point having a +400 ticket in pocket would provide some flexibility.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.