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Stanley Cup Finals Betting — Is Montreal a Match For the Bolts?

2021 Stanley Cup Finals Nhl

2021 Stanley Cup Finals Have Potential to be Great

By Charles Jay

Everyone knew that the Tampa Bay Lightning deserved to be a favorite over the Montreal Canadiens, but as we approach the Stanley Cup Finals betting opportunity in Game 2 there are questions about whether the Habs can actually line up and play with this opponent.

As far as those BetAnySports customers who were looking favorably upon the Canadiens, they have to be looking toward signs that this team can compete. So that is what we will be examining.

Stanley Cup Finals Betting – What happened in Game 1

The Lightning did not blow Montreal away coming out of the gate, but rather, they finished things up with a flourish. The score was just 2-1 going into the third period. But the Bolts tallied three goals in the final stanza to make it perhaps look more lopsided than it actually was (5-1 at the final buzzer).

What is undisputed is that the Canadiens were not able to apply enough pressure. Tampa Bay out-shot Montreal by a 27-19 margin, and they stuck the knife in with just a minute and a half left, when they converted on a power play goal. That broke Montreal’s streak of having killed off 32 straight penalties.

Nikita Kucherov came into the game as the leading scorer in the playoffs. After having gone through the entire series against the Islanders without scoring a goal, he had two of them, plus an assist.

That was the Lightning’s tenth win in the last 11 meetings with the Canadiens, although maybe we shouldn’t read too much into all that.  

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Stanley Cup Finals Betting odds as they are posted by the folks at BetAnySports, with game time at 8:05 PM ET on Wednesday at the Amalie Arena:

Tampa Bay Lightning -210
Montreal Canadiens  +175

Lightning -1.5 Goals +125
Canadiens +1.5 Goals -145

Over 5 Goals -120
Under 5 Goals +100

Stanley Cup Finals Betting – Why Montreal could win

So where was the light at the end of the tunnel for the Canadiens? Well, they were by no means out of the game going into the third period, as we mentioned. And they were one minute and 30 seconds away from extending their streak of not allowing a power play goal to 14 games.

You have to remember that the Habs have been underdogs going into every series. And they have lost Game 1 in two of the three series they’ve played. The Vegas Golden Knights beat them 4-1 in the opener, and that brought a lot of criticism onto Carey Price. He won back everybody’s faith, of course, and until Game 1, he was one percentage point behind Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has the best save percentage in these playoffs.

Tampa Bay actually had only one more High-Danger Scoring Chance (HDSC) than the Canadiens, when the two teams were in even-strength situations.

Stanley Cup Finals Betting – Why Tampa Bay could win

Kucherov’s output in Game 1 was significant, in the respect that it was reflective of the advantage Tampa Bay’s top line had over Montreal’s. When you look at the top Canadiens threesome of Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, they were all minus-3 for the game. So this team has some ground to make up. Can they get there?

Vasilevskiy is as good as it gets, and he has been very consistent. He’s not the kind of the guy to let things get out of hand. We have, in the past, talked about Montreal’s balance (among its top four lines). Well, there were 14 different Tampa Bay players who had a shot on goal in Game 1. So the Bolts have the depth too.

And the fact that the Lightning were able to break through with a power play goal was important. Keep in mind that this team scored on 37.7% of its power play chances coming into the series. At the same time, Montreal is down below 20%.

Stanley Cup Finals Betting – Our conclusion

We want to give some credit to Price, who has been a viable Conn Smythe candidate. So we are not expecting that he will be as permissive. Certainly Montreal’s guys on the first line will have to hold up their end of the bargain, and interim coach Luke Richardson may match up things a little differently, but it is entirely conceivable to us that we could see an UNDER here.

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Dirty has been an employee or owner of some of the top online sports gambling forums since 1998. He worked at EOG.com from it's inception until 2008 when he left and opened GamblingIQ and then in 2012 opened Handicappers Hidaway. He has written hundreds af articles over the years and always has his "Dirty Dozen" College Football poll up starting the first week of October.
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