Stanley Cup Finals: Game 1 Prediction
Well, we made it through a full season. Here we are on the day of the Stanley Cup Final.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are just four wins away from repeating as NHL champions.
The Montreal Canadiens, who hold the record for the most Stanley Cup titles (24), can end a 28-year championship drought and for Canada.
The winner will be determined when the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final starts Monday night.
Tampa Bay is a big favourite to win the series. They've been favoured in all three playoff series, so far. This is no different ad the Lightning are laying nearly 3-1 odds to the heavy underdogs. Tampa Bay to win is laying -280.
The underdog role suits Montreal just fine. The Canadiens have been disrespected in all three playoff series. They overcame big odds to get this far, including a monumental upset of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who were laying at high as -550 in some places. Montreal has a payoff price of +245 to win the championship.
Game 1 odds reflect the confidence in Tampa Bay. Here's the current numbers from SPREADS.CA:
So far, Montreal has taken six playoff games into overtime, winning five of those contests. Not to say they've been lucky, but those games could have broken the other way. Still, credit the Canadiens for winning the close games when it mattered.
On offense, Tampa Bay clearly has the advantage and is the more consistent bunch, with the top five playoff points leaders In the goal, Andrei Vasilevskiy thrives under playoff pressure, and he’s eyeing his second Cup in as many years. One can also argue that Carey Price is the reason the Canadiens made it this far. He's eyeing his first Stanley Cup hoist.
Home-away hasn't mattered much to the Canadiens. They seem comfortable playing on hostile ice, as proven in multiple road wins at Las Vegas, Winnipeg, and Toronto. So, we aren't giving Tampa Bay's home ice much weight in this prediction.
Two extra days of rest might also help the visiting Canadiens.
Prediction: Tampa Bay wins a close game, 3-2. But the best wager is probably taking Montreal on the puckline, plus 1.5 goals. If Price stays hot, the Canadiens will keep things tight, and certainly could pull off another upset.