This Stanley Cup Final has been a total mismatch.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are proving they're the best hockey team in the world, and whoever is the runner-up is a distant second.
No disrespect intended towards the Montreal Canadiens, who have outperformed everyone's expectations and enjoyed a wonderful Cinderella season, but the clock struck midnight on the Habs in Game 1 of this series and there's no glass slipper that will fit and make this scrappy team into this year's champions.
Congratulations, Lightning. You earned it, and you deserve it.
Oh, wait! There's still one more game left to play.
Game 4 shows Tampa Bay as a -165 moneyline favourite, up from their -140 price in Game 3. However, a convincing 3-goal win has a way of jacking up the price on the next game, and now it's hard to find anyone who believes in the Canadiens making what would be an epic comeback.
Could Montreal perhaps steal a game here and win at least one consolation match, thus making the inevitable defeat more respectable? Normally, yes. But here and now with these two teams – no.
It's not happening.
According to SPREADS.CA, here's the latest numbers:
What can Montreal possibly do to avoid elimination on Monday night?
They've now been outscored 14-5 in three games and have never really been in any of the matches. Game 2 was their best chance to grab a victory when they outshot Montreal by nearly 2 to 1, but the Habs simply could not light up the net with the puck. They also outshot the Lightning in Game 3, but that didn't matter, either.
The main reason why the Canadiens are struggling comes down to Andrei Vasilevskiy in the net for Tampa Bay. He's now won 11 straight games against Montreal, a streak which dates back to February 2018. Vasilevskiy had an uncharacteristically "off" night in Game 3, but he's still been sensational for the Lightning throughout the playoffs. He has been in net for every game, posting a 1.94 GAA and a .938 save percentage through 21 games. After surrendering 3 goals in the previous game, look for Vasilevskiy and the defense to revert back to domination in Game 4.
Meanwhile, Carey Price for Montreal has enjoyed a great playoff run, but has found it to be a more difficult chore stopping the Lightning, allowing 13 goals through the first three games of this series. Given Tampa Bay's success and a chance to win a championship within grasp, there's little evidence to project any letdown.
One interesting bit of history that does favour the Canadiens is that no sweep has occurred in the Stanley Cup Finals in more than 20 years. It's hard to maintain focus and sometimes letdowns happen, even with great teams.
Prediction: Tampa Bay is the better team and now with an opportunity to win a second Stanley Cup within just 10 months, look for the Lightning to close out the series with a victory in Game 4. Bet on the sweep. Final score projection: Tampa Bay 4, Montreal 2