Fri 02/07/2021 - 08:13 EDT

    NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Montreal Is This Close To Achieving A Legendary Run

    NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Montreal Is This Close To Achieving A Legendary Run

    The Montreal Canadiens are this close to completing one of the greatest underdog stories ever. But standing in their way is the defending Stanley Cup Champions and a dynasty-in-the-making in the Tampa Bay Lightning. This will be a memorable Stanley Cup Finals and Montreal can do it.

    Here is how the Montreal-Tampa Bay series is looking with the Stanley Cup odds per the top online sportsbooks

    Odds to win the 2021 Stanley Cup sports-interaction betway

    Tampa Bay Lightning

    1.42 1.40

    Montreal Canadiens

    2.90 3.00

    NHL Stanley Cup Futures: The Underdog's Ultimate Test

    As great as the Canadiens' underdog story has been, it will all be for naught if they flop against the Lightning. Cinderella teams have made it this far only to lose to a more dominant team. If the Canadiens can complete yet another upset, they will go down as a legend. The odds are not in their favour. But it's not like that's stopped them.

    Stanley Cup Preview: Each Team's Path

    Montreal and Tampa Bay couldn't be any more different as teams both in the style of play and narrative. One is the people's champion, the underdogs, the players who were all counted out but proved everyone wrong. The other is the defending Stanley Cup Champion and a powerhouse that can't lose.

    In order for either to win, they'll need to stick to their guns but also, they'll need to upgrade them.

    Montreal Canadiens — 2.90

    It isn't just thanks to Carey Price that the Montreal Canadiens are just four wins away from their 25th Stanley Cup. The Canadiens have elevated their play, particularly their defence, and shut down their opponents. They've limited the top lines of Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vegas to one or no goals. 

    Since going down 1-3 against the Leafs, Montreal has limited opponents to just 1.92 goals per game and stopped all 30 power plays they faced. This astounding penalty kill, supported by their four stalwart defenders, shutdown center Philip Danault, and Price, is why Montreal has constantly overachieved.

    But going against Tampa Bay, they face a team that isn't just red-hot on the power play but one that is also backstopped by an elite goaltender. They will need to reach an even higher level not only offence but also on defence. 

    Tampa Bay Lightning — 1.42

    The Lightning look to become just the second team to win consecutive Stanley Cups since the lockdown. They took care of Florida, Carolina, and the Islanders. Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point have carried the team offensively as the Lightning are scoring 3.22 goals per game and hitting an absurd 37.7% on the power play. 

    But other than being prolific on offence, the Lightning have Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been nigh-unstoppable. The team already features solid defensive play from its top line to its sixth defender, but having Vasilevskiy makes them almost unbeatable. 

    Tampa has all the tools to beat even a seemingly impregnable team like the Habs. They disposed of the Islanders, who were similarly stubborn defensively. But the Lightning will also have to hit a higher gear as they hope to match the fire that has the Canadiens playing like world-beaters.

    Conn Smythe Trophy Watch: Carey Price Versus The Lightning

    Price is all but guaranteed to win the Conn Smyth Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. 2.36 (odds via SportsInteraction (SIA)) is a solid price. With so much heart and momentum, we can expect Price and the Canadiens to put up a fight against Tampa Bay. Montreal does not need to win for Price to capture the award.

    Still, the Lightning have a slew of contenders who could realistically capture the award:

    Andrei Vasilevskiy — 2.41

    Price may be considered "more valuable" but Vasilevskiy has arguably been the better goaltender. He has similar if not better stats and has four shutouts in the playoffs. Three of these shutouts came in series-clinching games. If any goaltender can outshine Price, it's Vasilevskiy. 

    Nikita Kucherov — 3.87

    As the leading scorer for both the Lightning and the playoffs, Kucherov had the best chance to win outside of the goaltenders. That is past tense because he's slowed down a lot due to an injury. He hasn't scored a point in his last two games and if he continues to be hampered by it, someone like Point will be a better candidate.

    Brayden Point — 4.44

    Kucherov may have more points, but Point's 14 goals in 18 games is a ridiculous feat. Add that he scored a goal in nine straight games and you have the Lightning's best scorer. As much as goaltending and defence have dictated the playoffs, clutch goal scoring has been the other side of the coin and Point has that in spades.

    Tip: find as many NHL Stanley Cup betting markets from SIA and the top sportsbooks available to Canadians. Get rewarded with free betting cash with your first deposit and sign up for multiple books to get as many bonuses and betting choices.

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      Category : Sports News

      Tag : nhl stanley cup finals picks

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