The Stanley Cup Finals are finally set. We have one team that everybody thought would be here and are looking to win back-to-back Finals. Nobody thought the other team would be here. If it were a regular season with normal Conferences and Divisions, they wouldn’t even be in the playoffs, but none of that matters. They are looking to finish this magical run by lifting the Stanley Cup trophy and finishing as one of the biggest underdogs in history.
Canadiens (+168) vs. Lightning (-200) 8:10 p.m. ET
Nobody believes in the Canadiens, even though they have defeated every favorite in their path. The Maple Leafs were the favorite to get out of the North Division, and the Canadiens beat them in seven games. After that, nobody thought they stood a chance against Winnipeg; the Canadiens then swept them in four games. People were saying that it was the North Division’s fault, that it was very weak, and now that Montreal had to face off against a team from America, they stood no chance. Las Vegas was one of the favorites to make the Stanley Cup finals, especially after defeating Colorado. Once again, the Canadiens traveled to America, upset the world, and defeated the Knights in six games.
The Lightning was one of the favorites to make the Finals, even though they finished 3rd in the Central Division. As soon as Kucherov came back into the lineup, they were a different team. Their first-round series was a battle for Florida, as they defeated the Panthers in six games. In their next round, they faced off against the Hurricanes, and even though Carolina finished 1st in the Central Division, Tampa Bay was the favorite, and they took care of business in only five games. The Islanders were the last team standing in the Lightning’s way, and the Islanders muddied up the series and sent the series to seven games. The Lightning were able to defeat them 1-0 in Game Seven after scoring a shorthanded goal, and that was the only goal scored in the game.
Both of these teams are 2-1 in Game Ones. The Canadiens won Game One versus the Maple Leafs and the Jets but then lost Game One versus the Golden Knights. The Lightning won Game One versus the Panthers and the Hurricanes but then lost Game One versus the Islanders. The public believes that the Lightning will win this game, as 79% of picks are on Tampa Bay. The Canadiens are +1.5 (-176) for their puck lines, and the Lightning is -1.5 (+146). The public believes that this game will be close since 55% of bets are on Montreal’s puck line.
Montreal has been great on the road in these playoffs; they are 7-2. The Lightning, who have been great at home, have gone 6-3. The Canadiens are 0-6 in their last six games in Tampa Bay and are 0-4 in their last four games overall versus the Lightning. But none of those stats are from the 2021 season because the Canadiens didn’t play the Lightning due to COVID protocols.
During these playoffs, the Canadiens have scored 2.53 goals per game, allowed 2.18 goals, scored on 20.9% of their power plays, and successfully stopped 93.5% of their power-killing opportunities. The Lightning have scored 3.22 goals per game, allowed 2.06 goals, converted on 37.7% of their power plays, and successfully killed 83% of their power-killing opportunities. Their best player and superstar is leading the Lightning. Nikita Kucherov has 27 points, and Brayden Point has 20 points in these playoffs. For the Canadiens, it’s more of a team effort, but Tyler Toffoli’s 14 points and Nick Suzuki’s 13 points are leading Montreal in points.
These two teams have one thing in common: they both have insanely great goalies. Both of these goalies have started every game in the playoffs, and there hasn’t been a moment where there was any doubt that it wasn’t their net. Andrei Vasilevskiy is 12-6 in these playoffs, has allowed 1.99 goals a game with a .936 saves percentage and 4 shutouts. Carey Price is 12-5 in these playoffs, has allowed 2.02 goals a game with a .934 saves percentage and one shutout. This will be a great goalie duel, and with that, it’s worth looking into the total, which is set at 5.5 goals.
The over is set at +138, and the under is set at -170. The public believes that this game will be a defensive and goalie battle with 64% of the bets being on the under. The average total for Montreal playoff games has been 4.7 goals, compared to the Lightning, who average 5.2 total goals.
I have no idea how to bet on this first game. The Lightning is the better team, but the Canadiens are on a magical run that can’t be stopped. I know how I’ll be betting if the Lightning lose a game since they are unstoppable after a loss. But for this game, I want the good odds in Montreals Moneyline and keep believing in the magic, so I will be fading the public. For the total, I’m following the public, and I believe that this will be a defensive and goalie battle.
The picks: Canadians +168, and Under 5.5 -170