We are down to two. The Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning will go to war, playoff beards, defensive shells, hot goalies, and all for the Stanley Cup. The Lightning got the Cup Final after a seven-game slog against the New York Islanders while the Montreal Canadiens pulled a shocking upset over the Vegas Golden Knights in six.
Montreal was, at one point, a long, long shot to win the Stanley Cup. Now, sports betting is taking them far more seriously.
Let’s take a look at Game 1 of this Stanley Cup Final matchup from a betting perspective in our Canadiens vs. Lightning betting preview with odds, picks, and predictions.
Both teams used great goaltending to get past tough opponents. The Montreal Canadiens have silenced opposing top lines, from Auston Matthews in Round One, Kyle Connor in Round Two, and they shut out Mark Stone and the Vegas top line in the NHL Semifinal.
The Tampa Bay Lightning is a $98 million team for whom the stars aligned. They activated former Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov from the LTIR for the playoffs after he missed the entire regular season. Tampa Bay outlasted New York in a 1-0 Game 7, which was won on a shorthanded goal by Yanni Gourde.
Goaltending, defense, and grind it out. Here we go.
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Canadiens vs. Lightning Betting Pick (June 28, 2021)
Special teams will be a battle, but figure to be a wash. The Montreal Canadiens have a historically good penalty kill. They befuddled and ripped the confidence away from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Tampa Bay has a remarkable power play. They converted 15 of 36 chances before the NHL Semifinal.
Montreal has stymied and frustrated opponent after opponent. Starting goalie Carey Price is 12-5 with a 2.02 GAA and a .934 save percentage. Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli is the team’s leading scorer with 14 points (5-9-14) in 17 games. He’s the only Canadiens ranked in the top 10 of playoff scoring this season.
Conversely, the top five scorers are Tampa Bay Lightning: Nikita Kucherov (27), Brayden Point (20), Alex Killorn (17), Steve Stamkos (17), and Victor Hedman (16).
We like defending champion Tampa Bay’s experience in Game 1 while Montreal will have to settle into the game.
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Canadiens vs. Lightning Game 1 Odds
Here are the Islanders vs. Penguins Game 2 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook:
Lightning Bets We Like With a Tampa Bay Win
Blake Coleman (+350, MGM)
The Tampa Bay grinders with Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, and Patrick Maroon are part of the Tampa Bay backbone. Maroon is going for his third Stanley Cup in three years and second with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He knows how to play in these games.
Tampa Bay will need to score an ugly goal or three. They will need a net-front, greasy goal. Enter Maroon or one of his long-shot grinder linemates like Goodrow (+425) or Coleman (+350).
Maroon and the grinders have a good chance to score a goal in this series, so if he doesn’t pop in Game 1, go for it in Game 2, Game 3, and so on.
Long shots pay.
Canadiens Bets We Like With a Montreal Win
Canadiens to Win and the UNDER 4.5 (+170 DraftKings)
We aren’t as bullish on the Canadiens in Game 1, but we haven’t bet on the Canadiens for three rounds, either.
Montreal has found ways to suffocate good offensive teams. A 2-1 or 3-1 game is very plausible, especially with these two goalies.
In that vein, we expect this game to be a lot tighter, and if we’re brutally honest, we think Tampa Bay wins. Still, if you like the Canadiens and want a little more gravy on the potatoes, tease down the over/under a half puck to take the under and get the +170 odds. We wouldn’t go all the way to four, though.
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Bets We Like Independent of Outcome
Eric Staal, Goal, +500 (MGM)
The Montreal fourth-line center likes big games. He showed that against Vegas with a big goal, and we like him to score in this series, too. The odds make the bet enticing.