In a shortened season that began in January, we’re now down to just two teams left to fight for the right to lift Lord Stanley’s mug. The Stanley Cup Final gets going Monday night, but there is still time to place some NHL bets if you’re so inclined.
Below is a breakdown of the Stanley Cup Final with the latest lines, complete with a player prop and a value pick on the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
(All betting lines are courtesy of Sports Interaction, and current as of time of publication.)
No. 3 Central Division Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 4 North Division Montreal Canadiens
The Habs have played the Lightning three times in the playoffs, winning once, and losing their most recent matchup in six games in the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinal.
SERIES WINNER ODDS: Tampa Bay -238, Montreal +190
Montreal: Joel Armia (out for Games 1 and 2 — COVID-19 protocol)
Tampa Bay: No significant injuries
WHY YOU TAKE THE CANADIENS AT +190: The number two, perhaps? The Habs are 11-2 since their 4–0 Game 4 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one; they’re 11-2 when scoring first; and they’re 11-0 this post-season when they score at least two goals.
Montreal’s penalty kill has also been lights out. The Canadiens are 31 for 31 on the PK since that Game 4 against Toronto and have allowed just three power-play goals and have scored four times while short-handed. They also have Carey Price, whose shorthanded save percentage through three rounds is 95.2%.
Montreal has allowed just one first period goal on home ice this post-season. Phillip Danault could be the key to the Canadiens having success if he’s able to shut down Tampa’s stars — like his line has done through three rounds.
WHY YOU TAKE THE LIGHTNING AT -238: The defending Stanley Cup champions will be leaning on their power play and the dynamic duo of Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. The pair have combined to score 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points this post-season.
Tampa’s PP is also operating at a 37.7% clip, which ranks second in the playoffs, and the team has a plus-21 goal differential overall heading into the Stanley Cup Final.
And while Montreal’s goalie has been getting all the headlines up north, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been rock solid in goal for the Bolts. The 2019 Vezina Trophy winner is 12-6 with a 1.99 GAA and a post-season-leading .936 SV% with four shutouts in 18 playoff games.
The Lightning are also 13-0 following a playoff loss, which is the longest such run in NHL history.
MY PICK: If Danault can shut down Kucherov and Point, I think that’s the key for Montreal to win this series. And if the Canadiens and their stingy penalty kill can slow down Tampa’s power play, that increases their chances even more. In my mind, that makes Montreal the value play here. I’ll take the Habs to win this series at +190.
CONN SMYTHE TROPHY WINNER: Price (+136) and Vasilevskiy (+142) are the favourites to win the Conn Smythe, but I think there is a lot of value here on Point at +345. Tampa’s No. 1 centre leads the playoffs with 14 goals, and has seven power play markers and three game-winning goals.
PLAYER PROPS TO WATCH: Cole Caufield total series goals 2.5 (over +115, under -159)
‘Goal’ Caufield is coming off a four-goal performance against the Vegas Golden Knights in round three. The 20-year-old has 39 shots on goal and a 10.26 shooting percentage while averaging 15:11 minutes of ice time per game.
If you believe that the Habs will keep this series competitive — which I do — Caufield will need to produce. I’d lean the over 2.5 goals here at +115.