Betting odds favour Blackhawks over Lightning

Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) controls the puck ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (Brian Blanco/AP)

The Chicago Blackhawks have managed to pick up just one victory over their last seven games against the Tampa Bay Lightning dating all the way back to 2011 according to the OddsShark NHL Database, but they’re still the betting favourites at the sportsbooks heading into the Stanley Cup final.

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The Blackhawks had lost five games in a row against the Lightning heading into this season, then topped Tampa Bay 3-2 as home favourites of -147 at the sportsbooks in November. The Lightning then took care of business against the Blackhawks in their second meeting of the season in February, winning 4-0 as -157 home favourites. Both of those games turned out to be UNDER results on the betting totals.

However, despite that spotty recent history against Tampa Bay the Blackhawks still open the week as -150 favourites on the odds to win the Stanley Cup at sportsbooks monitored by The Lightning are the +130 underdogs on the latest Stanley Cup odds.

The Blackhawks began their chase of a third Cup in the past six years with a first-round victory over the Nashville Predators in six games, then gained some momentum in the second round with a sweep of the Minnesota Wild. Chicago then got its toughest test so far in the Western Conference final, using all seven games to dispatch the Anaheim Ducks.

The Lightning survived a seven-game series against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, then needed six games to get past the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay then went up against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final, winning their second Game 7 of the postseason to advance to the Stanley Cup final.

Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson leads all scorers with 21 points – including 12 goals – in the playoffs heading into the Stanley Cup final, with linemate Nikita Kucherov at 19 points, and team captain Steven Stamkos at 17 points after recording seven points in seven games against the Rangers. Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is 12-8 with a 2.15 GAA and a .920 save percentage through 20 playoff starts.

For the Blackhawks, former Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane has a team-high 10 goals and 20 points heading into the Stanley Cup final, with defenceman Duncan Keith and team captain Jonathan Toews both at 18 points. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is 9-4 with a 2.56 GAA and a .919 save percentage through 13 playoff starts.

The Blackhawks vs. Lightning betting matchup gets underway on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena, with Tampa Bay opening as the slight -110 favourite for the contest at the sportsbooks and the OVER/UNDER set at five goals. The teams then hit the ice once again in Tampa Bay in Game 2 on Saturday before the series shifts to the United Center in Chicago.

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