Oddsmakers like the defending champs a lot heading into Canadiens at Lightning game 1 betting. Tampa Bay is a huge -197 favorite in Monday’s Stanley Cup tip off, which is nothing new to the Canadiens who were underdogs in each of their six games vs. Vegas last round.
The Habs have made it this far with sparkling defense and some red hot goaltending from Carey Price. Tampa Bay has a high-powered offense, but got past the Islanders last round in mostly low scoring games. The O/U is 5 in game 1’s highly anticipated Price vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy matchup.
Canadiens Face Another Tough Test
The Canadiens at Lightning game 1 matchup puts Montreal in a tough atmosphere. The Lightning are 6-3 at home this postseason, and went 21-7 at Amalie Arena during the year. Forgive Montreal if they are not impressed though, as the Habs recently took 2 of 3 in front of nearly 18,000 rabid Golden Knights fans.
Montreal has been thriving in the underdog role this postseason, starting with when they came back from what looked like an insurmountable 3-1 series deficit against 1st place Toronto. The Canadiens then swept the Jets and beat Vegas in 6 games to go 11-2 in their last 13. Montreal is doing all of this even without their head coach Dominique Ducharme, who won’t be back until game 3 due to COVID protocols.
Cole Caufield has been a nice spark with goals in three of the last four games. Price doesn’t need much to work with in net, as he has held opponents to 2 goals or less in 8 of the last 9 playoff outings. Price has a 2.02 GAA in these playoffs.
Tampa Bay Doing What They Do
The Lightning may have needed 7 games to get past the Islanders last round, but they advanced nonetheless and are now in line for a 2nd straight Stanley Cup Championship. Don’t expect Montreal to go down lightly though, as they have an NHL record 24 Stanley Cup Finals series wins.
Montreal and specifically Price have been great in these playoffs, but Tampa Bay also comes into the Finals with the top 4 leading scorers of the postseason. Nikita Kucherov (27 points), Brayden Point (20), Alex Killorn (17), and Steven Stamkos (17) have been producing these playoffs. Victor Hedman (16) is also on a nice run while Tyler Toffoli has led the Habs with 14 points.
Even with all that offensive power, it’s been the Tampa Bay defense that has led them to a second straight Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Vasilevskiy has a shutout in each of his last two starts at Amalie Arena, and has three total this postseason. TB only scored more than two goals twice last round vs. the Islanders, but still got the 7-game series win thanks to Vasilevskiy.
Free Canadiens at Lightning Game 1 Pick
There isn’t a ton of value on Tampa Bay at -197, and it might be hard for the Lightning to get the -1.5 against the Habs’ defense (+145). This one feels like a tight 2-1 game powered by two strong goaltenders.
Canadiens 2 – Lightning 1
Free Pick: Under 5