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NHL oddsmakers aren’t all in on the Blues

Does being the defending champs not count for anything?

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

A disclaimer - I am not a betting person. I prefer to hold onto my money and spend it on useful things, like food that I shouldn’t be eating, or kitchen gadgets, or beer. I don’t do well at being certain about uncertain outcomes. If I buy a beer, I know I can drink it. If I place a bet on a sports event, I have no clue if I’m going to walk away $20 richer or be out twenty bucks.

I’m also hot garbage on making predictions, especially about my own team. Last year’s Stanley Cup victory didn’t do much good in getting rid of the more than 30 years worth of conditioning mind tricks that the Blues have played on my brain since childhood. If people ask me how the team’s going to do in the playoffs, it’s next to impossible for me to start off my response with anything but “I want to say that they’ll do well, but...”

I have inklings about how well a team will do, or how well they won’t do, but it’s never enough to plop down money on a game, or a postseason. Fan Scott Berry had the chutzpah to put down $400 on the Blues winning the Stanley Cup last year, and he walked away with $100,000. I commend his faith in the team.

Part of the reason he was able to win so damn much money is that oddsmakers didn’t have the Blues even remotely in the race for the Cup. In January, when they were dead last, it was 250-1 odds that they’d win the whole thing. Looking back at how I felt about the team in January of 2019, I’d consider that pretty fair odds. Heading into this year’s playoffs, I would expect the defending champions to have a little bit of the benefit of the doubt. Sure, it’s a different year with different variables in play, and with teams like the Avalanche and Bruins tearing it up all season as well, I wouldn’t even expect the Blues to be the odds on favorites.

Apparently learning nothing from last season, the folks over at Oddshark and Bodog have the Tampa Bay Lightning as the favorites to win the Cup. The Blues are sixth in the rankings at +1100. Above them are the Lightning, Bruins, Avalanche, Golden Knights, and the Philadelphia Flyers. All of these teams were on hot streaks when play was paused in March, save for Tampa Bay, who were in a 3-6-1 slump. The Flyers’ 9-1-0 streak was incredible, turning their season around and putting them second in the Metro.

How much weight can you give a team’s performance four months ago against what their performance is going to be in the playoffs which start next weekend?

Honestly I’m not sure what their methodology is, and I don’t find a lot to quibble with in their top ten. I do think that giving the Blackhawks the 12th best odds in the tournament is a bit... hopeful, I guess is the right word for it.

Regardless, if you’re not a betting gal (or guy), this doesn’t matter much. If you are, now might be the time to head down to the casino and place one. You might not win $100,000, but you’ll still come home richer if the Blues go back to back.