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For the first time since 1998, a team is on the verge of being swept in the Finals. During their dynasty, the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals, but it hasn’t been done since. Nobody believed in the Canadiens from the beginning; they were the underdog in every round, and the entire hockey world picked the other team. This was no different when they matched up against the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Well, it looks like the public is correct about this one. The Canadiens look to be no match against Tampa Bay; they can’t match their intensity, offense, defense, and goaltending. Will Tampa Bay close it out tonight and become Stanley Cup Champions, or will the Canadiens live to fight another day?
Lightning (-158) vs. Canadiens (+134) 8:15 p.m. ET
This series hasn’t been close at all; it’s been all Tampa Bay. In Game One, the Lightning won 5-1, and Game Two, 3-1. In Game Three, the Lightning offense was humming since they won 6-3. The puck line for this game is Lightning -1.5 +164 and the Canadiens +1.5 -200. The public believes that Tampa Bay will win this game, as 84% of bets are on the Lightning’s Moneyline. The public also believes that this game isn’t going to be close, as 75% of bets are on the Lightning puck line.
The puck line for Tampa Bay has gone undefeated in this series. The Lightning are 6-2 in their last eight games as road favorites. In these playoffs, Tampa Bay on the road is 8-2 compared to the Canadiens, who have gone 5-4 in Montreal. When the Canadiens have allowed five goals or more in their last game, in their next game, they are 0-4.
Carey Price was the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup Finals. He has certainly stood on his head this postseason — until now. For the entire playoffs, Price has averaged 2.36 goals allowed and a .921 save percentage. However, Tampa Bay’s offense has been unstoppable, and Price can’t seem to stop them either. During this series against the Lightning, Price is averaging 4.39 goals allowed and a .837 save percentage.
The Lightning’s offense hasn’t been the only bright spot. Andrei Vasilevskiy has also been amazing. In these playoffs, he is averaging 1.94 allowed goals a game, with a .938 save percentage. In the Stanley Cup Finals, he has stepped up his game, which I didn’t know was possible for a goalie already allowing under 2 goals a game. In this series, he is averaging 1.67 goals a game, with a .938 save percentage.
The Lighting in these playoffs are averaging 3.43 goals a game, allowing 2.00 goals a game, converting on 36.7% of their power plays, and have killed 83.1% of their power-killing opportunities. The Canadiens, by comparison, are averaging 2.40 goals a game, allowing 2.55 goals a game, scored on 20.4% of their power plays, and have stopped 90.6% of their power-killing opportunities. The Lightning have been led by their superstar Nikita Kucherov, who has 32 points in these playoffs. Brayden Point has 23 points in these playoffs. The Canadiens don’t have anybody close to Kucherov and Point. Nick Suzuki has 15 points, Tyler Toffoli has 14 points as they lead Montreal in points for these playoffs.
I believed in the Canadiens in Games One and Two, drank their gravy and cheese curds magic, and instead, my arteries were clogged, and I was left heartbroken. This time, I’m ditching the Canadiens and following the public with my picks. I believe that the Lightning will close this series out tonight and that the magical run for the Canadiens will finally end.
The picks: Tampa Bay -158 and Lightning -1.5 +164.