In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the unexpected could swiftly evolve into the anticipated in a very short period of time.

Let’s use the Florida Panthers as an example.

Exactly one month ago, the Panthers were +1280 just to advance past the first round of the playoffs at FanDuel.

At the time, the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights all had shorter odds to win the Stanley Cup than Florida did to get out of the first round.

Five of those seven teams have since been eliminated, while another is staring down elimination at the hands of the Panthers heading into Game 4 tonight in Carolina.

Florida is down to +125 to win the Stanley Cup at FanDuel this morning.

While that price will be cut even further once they reach the Stanley Cup Finals, anyone thinking about placing a bet on the Panthers to win it all at this point might want to consider an alternate approach in the futures market.

This is the Morning Coffee for Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

Bobrovsky’s unexpected path to becoming Conn Smythe favourite

Exactly one month ago, on April 24, the Panthers were on the verge of elimination down 3-1 in their first-round series against the Bruins.

Only seven days earlier, one adventurous bettor in Ontario had decided to place a wager on Sergei Bobrovsky to win the Conn Smythe Trophy at 250-to-1 odds at FanDuel.

At the time, the idea that Florida would get out of the first round was a long shot, never mind getting all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Never mind a bet on Bobrovsky to win the Conn Smythe.

But the Panthers rallied from down 3-1 to beat Boston in seven games at nearly 13-to-1 odds.

After that, Florida entered the second round as an underdog against the Maple Leafs.

Bobrovsky could still be found at 90-to-1 to win the Conn Smythe Trophy.

The Panthers went on to beat Toronto in five, cashing as the betting underdog in all four of their wins at +155, +168, +134 and +146 odds.

Bobrovsky held the Maple Leafs to two goals or less in every game of the series.

Even after knocking off the favourite to win the Stanley Cup entering each of the first two rounds, Florida wasn’t getting much love at FanDuel.

The Panthers had the longest odds to win it all of the final four teams at +350 at FanDuel.

Three wins later, Florida is +125 to win the Stanley Cup right now.

Bobrovsky has held the Hurricanes to three goals in three games, including his first career playoff shutout in a 1-0 win in Game 3.

Bobrovsky is 10-2 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage so far this postseason.

It should be no surprise that the veteran goaltender has emerged as the favourite to win the Conn Smythe at FanDuel.

Bobrovsky could be found at +260 to win that award on Tuesday morning. He’s down to +210 to win the Conn Smythe at FanDuel this morning.

I’d love to talk to the Ontario bettor who took a flyer on Bobrovsky to win the Conn Smythe at 250-to-1 back in April.

The Panthers are five wins away from winning the Stanley Cup.

If Bobrovsky can continue to play at the level he has throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs, it would be hard to give the Conn Smythe to any other player.

Regardless of what happens next, Bobrovsky’s path to emerging as the Conn Smythe favourite has been unexpected, to say the least.

I certainly wish I was the one who had him at 250-to-1.

Celtics avoid elimination in East finals

Put away the brooms in the NBA Conference Finals.

The Boston Celtics avoided the sweep with a 116-99 win over the Miami Heat in Game 4 Tuesday night.

It marked the first time in the series that Boston went off as the betting underdog as they closed at even-money at FanDuel.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the most lopsided win in NBA history by a team that trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven series and played Game 4 on the road.

After the emphatic win, the Celtics opened as a 7.5-point favourite at FanDuel for Game 5 back in Boston.

No team in NBA history has overcome a 3-0 series deficit. Teams in that situation are 0-149 all-time.

The Celtics are +230 to win the series at FanDuel this morning. Miami is +235 to win Game 5 and -280 to win the series.

A FanDuel Best Bet for Wednesday

We were one out away from extending the Morning Coffee FanDuel Best Bet win streak to nine in a row last night.

That’s when Byron Buxton took Alex Cobb deep for a two-run home run to spoil our NRFI bet and end the streak.

The two teams didn’t score another run until the fifth inning. Ouch.

While I thought about going back to that matchup again this morning, it’s time to turn the page and attempt to start a new win streak with a different NRFI.

No team has scored fewer first-inning runs this year than the New York Mets

Their opponent – the Chicago Cubs – have scored the seventh-fewest first-inning runs.

While I didn’t give it out as my FanDuel Best Bet yesterday, I did cash the NRFI in the Mets/Cubs game.

I’m back on it today with Kodai Senga and Marcus Stroman as the scheduled starters.

It’s a little chalky at -160, but I’ll lock in the NRFI in the Mets/Cubs game as my FanDuel Best Bet.