Stanley Cup by the odds: Sports book preview and pick of Game 5

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AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Teammates celebrate with Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, center of the huddle, who scored a goal past Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) during the first period in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final, Monday, June 4, 2018, in Washington.

Thu, Jun 7, 2018 (2 a.m.)

Gaming executives preoccupied with their bottom lines require only one more loss by the home team to evade their greatest fear.

The multimillion-dollar threat the Vegas Golden Knights pose to casinos, dating back to when they were as high as 500-to-1 to win the Stanley Cup, is subdued for the first time in months. Vegas would need a minor miracle to become the second team in NHL history — joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs — to fight off a 3-1 Stanley Cup Final deficit.

Washington has controlled the last three games, winning by a combined seven goals, to give it nearly a 90 percent probability to win the series by the odds. With one game left to clinch, the Capitals are minus-800 (risking $8 to win $1) to win their franchise’s first Stanley Cup with the Golden Knights coming back at plus-550 (risking $1 to win $5.50).

That’s the highest price Vegas has held in the futures market since before the conference finals began.

Many sports books were able to at least slightly maneuver off their liability on Vegas winning the Western Conference by enticing bets on opponents throughout the playoffs, but the massive Stanley Cup loss loomed. A Washington win, by contrast, is a much more favorable result for sports books.

To many, this was supposed to be the year the Capitals faded from their perennial-contender status after losing a chunk of its core to free agency. Their odds to win the Stanley Cup increased in the preseason at the Superbook, going from 10- to 12-to-1.

At William Hill sports books, the Capitals were not among the top 10 in teams with most tickets to win the Stanley Cup going into the playoffs. They were, however, ninth in total money wagered to win the Stanley Cup — meaning a few large bets on Washington are out there.

But they aren’t sufficient enough to cause a futures loss, not when the highest price the Capitals ever reached was 28-to-1, and that was only when they fell in a 2-0 first-round hole to the Blue Jackets.

For much of the year, bookmakers rued the Golden Knights’ success and their impending loss if it continued. Many changed their attitudes by the time of the Stanley Cup, having let the community excitement throughout the playoffs outweigh a potential professional failure.

That leaves those counting the money as some of the only people in Las Vegas content with the Capitals closing in on a capsizing of the Golden Knights.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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