It was not too long ago that St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock astounded people betting on hockey by commenting that he need to “sleep on” which goalkeeper to start. Well, he must have had that dream where you're in bed, and they fly in through the window, because not only has Blues goalie Brian Elliot retained his place in the starting lineup, but is arguably the team’s star. The Ontarian may not be the first name mentioned in conversations about the top NHL goaltenders – or the second, or even the third for that matter – but he has provided his teammates with the assurance that, say, a solid sports betting wager gives you.
Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals versus the San Jose Sharks was no exception. Sure, he got help from a quick whistle and some goal posts, but as they say in Latin American soccer circles, a goalkeeper without good luck is no goalkeeper at all. Moreover, Elliot was invariably in the right place at the right time, and was praised following the game by both coach Hitchcock and team captain David Backes. The Blues were outshot 24-12 after the first period and 32-23 overall, but they still went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead – the eventual final score.
With this win, the Blues lead the series 1-0, but that is not to say they can start celebrating just yet. As a matter of fact, this is as closest a contest as fans betting on hockey are going to get to see. The victor of each game will most likely escape with the victory by the skin of their teeth. And even though everybody in the world of sports betting knew that going in, it’s still safe to say that the Sharks were stunned. This is the first time they are behind in a series in these playoffs. In a way, though, it’s might do them good to get that loss out of the way and focus on the road ahead. As San Jose right wing Joel Ward said, the series wasn’t over last night – at the very least is one fourth of the way over, but probably one seventh, really.
It might sound like pointing the obvious, but in order to tie the series – Game 2 is Tuesday in St. Louis – the Sharks must outscore the Blues, as opposed to just outshoot them. As San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said, they need to score, and they need to score more than one goal. At this stage of the postseason you’re not going to win any games with one goal. Tomorrow night we’ll find out whether people betting on hockey are in the right if they continue to put money on the Sharks.