Betting On Stanley Cup Finals: Can Lightning Strike Twice
Time is quickly running out for U.S. sports bettors who enjoy wagering on the NHL. In fact, time is running out faster than anyone might have thought when the NHL Stanley Cup Finals started on June 28, 2021.
After surviving a plethora of upsets in the preliminary rounds, the Montreal Canadians entered the championship round as a #4 seed. Their opponent was going to be none other than the Defending Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s worth noting that Tampa Bay entered the finals as their conference’s #3 seed.
Much to the chagrin of sports bettors who thought the Habs had a good shot at taking down the Lightning, it didn’t take Tampa Bay long to put Montreal in a 3-0 hole. In what can only be described as a game played in desperation, the Canadians bounced back at home in a game #4 O/T victory with a score of 3-2.
The Habs were indeed desperate to right the ship after the Lightning scored decisive victories in the first three games. It surely looked like the Habs were badly outmanned as Tampa Bay cruised to 5-1 in game #1 and a 3-1 victory in game #2 before putting Montreal on the brink of elimination with a 6-3 victory in game #3.
Wagering on the Stanley Cup Finals
Heading into the Finals, U.S. bookmakers were acutely aware that Tampa Bay had been dominating the Canadians in recent years. With a record of 10-2-1 against the Montreal Canadiens over the last three seasons, there was little doubt the bookmakers would need to make the Lightning heavy favorites at home in game #1. By the time the game started, Tampa Bay was sitting at -200 on the money line and +135 if laying 1.5 pucks. They easily covered both spreads as the Lightning scored three goals in the final period to seal the deal. The barrage of scoring was enough to beat the over, which was set at 5.0 pucks.
When the betting windows closed for game #2, Tampa Bay was again sitting at -200 on the money line and +125 if laying 1.5 pucks on their home ice. The over/under was again set at 5.0 picks. The game was scoreless in the first period and remained tied at 1-1 until Tampa Bay scored a goal with a mere .02 seconds remaining in the second period. They got the cover on both the money line and the point spread with only 4:12 minutes left in the game.
After two dominant wins at home, bookmakers were put to the test to see what kind of numbers they would post in Montreal for game #3. By game time, Tampa Bay was a slight favorite at -120 on the money line and +210 if laying 1.5 pucks. Again, they would easily cover with the game going over the 5.0 total.
With the Habs looking hapless, bookmakers and sports bettors gave the Canadians little chance to win game #4 as the Lightning closed at -160 on the money line and +155 if laying 1.5 pucks. In the first period, neither team was able to put the puck in the net. In both the second and third periods, the Habs scored first only to see the defending champ Lightning respond with goals of their own. Heading into O/T, the game was going to go under the 5.5 puck total, leaving the outcome of the game as the only thing in question. Finally, the Habs scored a goal at 3:57 of O/T to claim their first win of the finals.
The two teams will be heading back to Tamps Bay to play game #5 with the Lightning holding a huge series lead of 3-1. The game is scheduled to be played on July 7, 2021, at 8:00 pm ET.
The Lightning are currently sitting at -225 on the money line and +125 if laying 1.5 pucks. Bettors who favor the Canadians in game #5 can get a generous +180 on the money line and only have to lay -155 two get 1.5 pucks on the point spread. The total has again been set at 5.0 pucks with a slight leaning to the over as favored.
When the wagering opened on the Stanly Cup playoffs, the Lightning were listed at +165, and the Habs were sitting at a very generous +850 to go all the way to the Cup title.
Current betting shows the Tampa Bay Lightning are listed at -5000, and Montreal Canadiens are listed at +1700 to take me the Stanley Cup. Those are astounding odds that certainly reflect the dominance Tampa Bay has exhibited over Montreal in recent years.
As was stated above, the Lighting have an outstanding record of 10-2-1 against the Montreal Canadiens over the last three seasons. In the world of professional sports, it’s hard to imagine there is such a discrepancy between two teams that are usually both sitting at the top of the standings on a regular basis.
With their proverbial backs against the wall, the Canadians showed a lot of grit to score an overtime victory to stay alive. Hopefully, the excitement of the victory didn’t set the Canadians up for a letdown.
With that said, the Tampa Bay Lightning are the defending champions and are very motivated to go back to back. The last team to go back to back was the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.
The Tampa Bay Lightning should easily win game #5 and the Cup. Here’s why. In the last three years, Tampa Bay is 6-0 on their home ice against the Habs. In those six games, they outscored Montreal 25-11. In 2021, Montreal has scored a total of two pucks in three games.
Prediction: Tampa Bay wins game #5 4-2.