One Win Away: Montreal and Tampa Bay Eye Stanley Cup Finals

Oh-Canada Jun 23, 2021

The 2022 Stanley Cup Finals:  Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning.

How does that sound?

Since we touted the Canadiens to advance in the semi-finals getting back the moneyline price of +420 (READ HERE) and the Lightning to win it all this year (READ HERE) at futures odds of +180 a few weeks ago – we love the sound of that sweet song.  Play it loud.  Make it happen!

The Canadiens played arguably their best game of the season when it mattered the most and the stakes were the highest, dominating the Las Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5.  The 4-1 final score shocked the home crowd.  Montreal was up 3-0 at one point, yet they went off as nearly a 2-1 underdog on the moneyline.  There's a lot of foolish money sweating it out, and this has nothing to do with the heat.  As it turns out, Las Vegas -500 might have been the most foolish wager of the entire NHL playoffs.

Now, Tampa Bay is clearly in the favourite to repeat at Stanely Cup champions. Futures odds show the Lightning laying -125 to win it all.  Montreal, now with the upper hand in the other semi-finals, is the second choice at +360.

According to SPREADS.CA:

As for the series prices to win, the NY Islanders and Las Vegas Golden Knights would have to win the next two games to advance.  Oddsmakers think the Golden Knights prospects are much better than the Islanders.  Las Vegas is still +150 to win the next two games, while the New Yorkers are a longshot at +475.

According to SPREADS.CA:

As for what to expect in Game 6 of both series here are our brief predictions:

Montreal is up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, and is now just a win away from a Stanley Cup appearance.  Upsetting the Golden Knights would be both shocking and monumental.

The last thing the Canadiens want is a Game 7 played back in Las Vegas.  So, look for the Habs to focus everything on getting the win in Game 6 on their home ice at Centre Bell on Thursday night.  

Two major factors have contributed to the Habs' success through five games.  Goaltender Price has been playing the best hockey of his life when it matters the most.  And, the Golden Knights' forwards have basically taken the series off and gone into hibernation. Montreal's ability to frustrate Las Vegas in their defensive zone should continue to be the difference.  

There's also an intangible quality to the Canadiens playing in multiple playoff series as heavy underdogs when no one, even their loyal fans, had many expectations.  Contrast this with a win-now-at-all-cost attitude in Las Vegas, somewhat justified given their record over four seasons and the success during the 2021 regular seeason.  In other words, all the pressure has been on the Golden Knights, and the more relaxed attitude has clearly favoured the heavy dogs.

We expect Montreal to take care of business at home in Game 6.  The Golden Knights getting hammered at home in such shocking fashion has to be demoralizing.  Their confidence shaken, possibly beyond repair at this point, Las Vegas won't have enough left in the tank to overcome the frenzy of excitement that will be on display in Quebec on Thursday night.

We like Montreal to win Game 6 by a score of 3-1 and take the series 4 games to 2.

After the NY Islanders drew their semi-finals series with the Lightning back to even at 2-2, Game 5 turned into a bloodbath.

There's no doubt that Tampa Bay is the better team.  They proved that in Game 5 when their season was potentially on the line.  The Lightning jumped on the New York Islanders from the opening face off, leading the Isles 3-0 at the end of the first period, and led 6-0 at the end of the second period.  The 8-0 ass-kicker of a finale could be construed as "just one game."  But it still has to linger in the minds of both teams.  It's hard to foresee how both clubs can and will reverse such a lopsided outcome 44 hours ago, even though the score of game 6 officially starts again at 0-0.

It's also worth noting the Islanders were eliminated by the Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals last season at this same juncture.  This looks like a case of deja vu.

Speaking of deja vu, just like in the MTL-VGN series, we like Tampa Bay to win their Game 6 by a score of 3-1 and take the series 4 games to 2.