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Don't Ignore This Game 1 NHL Stat

What’s the most important game in a Stanley Cup final? 

The easy answer might be the game that clinches the championship ring. The right answer, though, could actually be Game 1. 

The winner of Game 1 in the Cup finals has gone on to win the series 77.6 percent of the time in seven-game series (59-17 according to the site Whowins.com). 

I’ll just let that sink in a little.

In betting terms it’s significant because the Pittsburgh Penguins made a big jump in odds after winning Game 1 at home over the San Jose Sharks on Monday, 3-2. The Pens moved to -235 to win the series after opening at -135. 

That’s an implied probability of 70 percent while history says the Game 1 winner wins at closer to an 80 percent clip. So as much as the price has climbed following Game 1 the numbers suggest there still could be some value here. 

This trend has even more punch when the home team claims Game 1 – like the Pens did on Monday. In that spot, the home Game 1 winner has gone on to claim the Cup an amazing 85.2 percent of the time (46-8 in seven-game Stanley Cup finals).  

You can see why oddsmakers raised their price on the Pens. 

What bettors really want to keep in mind is that the team that wins Game 1 goes on to win Game 2 64.5 percent of the time historically and 68.5 percent of the time when it won Game 1 as the home team. 

So the key here is not to get your jock strap in a knot if the Sharks come back and tie this thing up and your money happens to be sitting with Pittsburgh. And if you don’t have money on the Pens yet, this is the spot you’re actually hoping for.  

If this series heads back to San Jose all tied up you’re going to see odds a lot closer to what they were before the series began. Keep this Game 1 trend in mind if we get there.