The Montreal Canadiens have continued to shock the hockey world and now Carey Price and his Habs find themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals facing off against last year’s defending champion, Tampa Bay Lightning.
I had zero faith in the Montreal Canadiens going into the playoffs. This team struggled a ton in the regular season and ended up sneaking in the playoffs with only one win more than the Ottawa Senators. They wouldn’t have made the playoffs in any other division and I thought the entire North Division was by far the weakest in hockey. I expected whatever team to come out of Canada to get their doors blown off by whoever they matched up against in the semi’s but the Habs proved me wrong. Their path to get here was like no one could have scripted. In the first round, they came back from down 3-1 to the Leafs to win it in seven as Toronto choked the series away. Following a suspension for a hit from Mark Scheifele on Jake Evans at the end Game 1 of the North Finals, the Habs swept the Jets to punch their tickets to the semifinals. Facing the Cup favorite Vegas Golden Knights, I expected the Habs to get crushed and instead they crushed my bankroll as Montreal became the first team of the season to advance to the Cup Finals, knocking off the Knights in six games. Carey Price has more than proved he’s worth the $11 million a year as he’s gotten the Habs here with incredible shutdown goaltending.
On the other side of the bracket, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning look to repeat their title after last year’s impressive victory in the bubble. In the first round of the Central playoffs, the Bolts beat their in state rival Panthers in the Battle of Florida in six games. They won the Central in five games against Carolina and then in seven games of a rematch to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Lightning grinded out a series win against the New York Islanders. The addition of Kucherov and Stamkos for the playoffs has been very valuable to the Bolts in this run.
I think Montreal’s been overachieving this playoffs and when it comes down to the Finals, I don’t think the Habs are going to be able to beat Tampa on just Carey Price’s incredible play on its own. Tampa’s offense is the best in hockey and their backend is just as good, backstopped by Vezina Finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Habs have proved me wrong every round these playoffs, but I just can’t see them outworking the Bolts. Tampa’s a machine on every part of the ice and they’re going to be too much for Montreal to handle.
I have existing futures on the Lightning to win the Cup, with 7 units risked to win 13.25 if the Bolts lift Lord Stanley for the second time in two season. I’m just letting this ride in Game 1. I’d expect Tampa to take a victory to start the series and if they do, the price to hedge on Montreal should be much nicer, which I’ll likely do before Game 2 regardless of the Game 1 results.
In addition to letting my Cup futures on Tampa ride, I’ll take Tampa ML for a unit in Game 1. I’d lean the under in this series since it should be a goaltending clinic between Vaz and Price, but at only 5 in Game 1, I’ll lay off of the OU.
4u Stanley Cup Champions: Tampa Bay Lightning (+200)
3u Stanley Cup Champions: Tampa Bay Lightning (+175)
Game 1 Bets
1u Tampa ML (-200)