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NHL 2021 Stanley Cup Finals Lightning vs. Canadiens Betting Preview
The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Monday, and the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens are four wins away from etching their names into history. Tampa Bay went the distance in the semifinals, beating the New York Islanders in seven games. Similarly, the Montreal Canadiens won at home, but they were the series underdog, beating the Vegas Golden Knights in six games.
Here, we’ll preview the Stanley Cup Final and list the odds to win the series.
Team Offense Advantage: Tampa Bay
Beyond having the dynamic high-end scoring talent, the Lightning have depth scoring that exceeds what Montreal has shown so far. Brayden Point leads all playoff scorers with 14 goals, and Nikita Kucherov leads in points with 27 (five goals, 22 assists). Eight different Lightning skaters have scored a game-winning goal, including depth forwards Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde, and Patrick Maroon.
Tampa Bay scores more per game (3.22 goals per game, Montreal at 2.53) and a tremendously better power play (37.7% to 20.9%). Because of their scoring prowess, Tampa Bay will likely be the betting favorite in every game in this series.
Team Defense Advantage: Montreal
Montreal’s penalty kill has put on a show during the playoffs. Entering the Cup Final, they’ve killed off 30 straight penalties, the equivalent of playing an entire game shorthanded and not allowing a goal. They’ve also scored more shorthanded goals (four) than they’ve allowed while down a man (three).
The Canadiens do an excellent job of closing down passing lanes, contesting shots, and frustrating opponents with physical play. Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry, and Jon Merill do an excellent job clearing out traffic in front of the net to limit deflections and screens.
Tampa Bay may have the best overall defenseman in Victor Hedman, and they have quality depth with Ryan McDonagh and former Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard. However, as a defensive unit and as a team, the Canadiens are slight favorites defensively.
Goaltending Advantage: Tampa Bay
Out of any of these three categories, the goaltending matchup is as close as it gets. Carey Price and Andrei Vasilevskiy are the two best goaltenders on the planet right now, and there’s very little separating them.
Vasilevskiy ranks first in save percentage (.936) and second in GAA (1.99), while Price ranks second in save percentage (.934) and third in GAA (2.04). Vasilevskiy has four shutouts this postseason, while Price has one.
The two tipping points that give Vasilevskiy and Tampa Bay the advantage are a pair of advanced stats. With a substantially better goals saved above expected (GSAx) at 7.3 to Price’s 4.04, and with the edge in high danger save percentage (.896 to .878), Vasilevskiy gets the nod in net.
Below are the approximate series odds you can expect for the Stanley Cup final. While Tampa Bay is a heavy betting favorite, Montreal’s unexpected run shouldn’t be discounted.
Tampa Bay to Win (Any Number of Games): -250
Montreal to Win (Any Number of Games): +210
Tampa Bay to Win 4-0: +550
Tampa Bay to Win 4-1: +365
Tampa Bay to Win 4-2: +415
Tampa Bay to Win 4-3: +450
Montreal to Win 4-0: +2200
Montreal to Win 4-1: +1150
Montreal to Win 4-2: +725
Montreal to Win 4-3: +750
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