Lightning Strikes Twice: Tampa Bay Makes Second Straight Stanley Cup Appearance

NHL Jun 26, 2021

Lightning Open Up as -275 Favourites to Win Versus Canadiens +225

The 2021 Stanley Cup Finals is now all set.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to defend their championship versus the surprise team of this year's playoffs, the Montreal Canadiens.

This promises to be a series that's both exciting and unpredictable.  These are two very different teams, not just in their strengths and styles, but in the way they reached the NHL finals.

The Canadiens were underdogs is almost every playoff game they played.  They ended up going 12-6 in those 18 games, despite entering the post-season as the team with the worst W-L record of all the 16 clubs that made it into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Lightning are pretty much where everyone expected following three rounds of games.  The NY Islanders pushed Tampa Bay to the brink in a 7-game series that was decided on Friday night, by a 1-0 final, which was the most narrow of margins.

One could argue Montreal has played better hockey of late.  Nonetheless, betting markets love the Lightning to win the best-of-seven series, which would make for back-to-back Stanley Cup wins.

Here's at look at the opening consensus odds on the finals:

Here's the schedule (all starting times are Eastern):

Game 1: Mon. June 28: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m.
Game 2: Wed. June 30: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m.
Game 3: Fri. July 2: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m.
Game 4: Mon. July 5: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m.
*Game 5: Wed. July 7: Canadiens at Lightning, 8 p.m.
*Game 6: Fri. July 9: Lightning at Canadiens, 8 p.m.
*Game 7: Sun. July 11: Canadiens at Lightning, 7 p.m.

A few tidbits:

-- The Canadiens were 500-1 longshots when the playoffs began.  When the semi-final round began, they were 11-1.  Now, they're close to 3-1.

-- Montreal became the first Canadian team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals since the Vancouver Canucks ten years ago, in 2011.

-- No Canadian team has won the NHL title since Montreal in 1993.  However, the tradition-rich Canadiens have won a record 24 NHL titles.

-- The Lightning are the first defending champs to reach the Stanley Cup Finals since the Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017.

-- Stringing victories together won't be easy for Montreal,  Tampa Bay has now won 14 straight games after a playoff defeat, which says plenty about their ability to bounce back after a loss.

Note:  Much more to come in the days and weeks ahead,