Lightning vs. Avalanche Best Stanley Cup Final Game Props

There’s no overstating the importance of each matchup in a seven-game series, especially with the Stanley Cup on the line. The puck drops on Game 1 between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, and we’re expecting both teams to be at their best as they face off for hockey’s Holy Grail. The Lightning won four straight and ten of their past 12 to reach the final, while the Avs have gone 12-2. That makes for must-see TV, so here are some game props to match in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche: Time of First Goal 9:00-60:00 -105

The Lightning have ridden a defensive wave to their third straight Cup Final, thwarting high-powered offenses and getting the most out of Andrei Vasilevskiy. With Tampa Bay holding an enormous advantage between the pipes, the Avalanche will want to avoid getting into a run-and-gun style of game, which could lead to a slow start on Wednesday. 

Almost no one is beating Vasilevskiy at five-on-five in these playoffs. The Russian netminder has limited opponents to one or fewer goals at five-on-five in nine of their last 11 games, resulting in a 93.9% save percentage. Teams have had more success across all strengths; still, goals aren’t easy to come by. Vasilevskiy is stopping 92.9% of shots overall in the postseason, including 95.5% over his past four. 

Avalanche goalies have been less reliable, but the team has been effective at limiting scoring in the first period. Colorado has given up just one first-period goal over their past three outings, preferring to play a neutralizing brand of hockey at five-on-five instead of pushing the pace offensively. We’re anticipating a similar game plan against the Bolts as Colorado looks to insulate their perceived disadvantage in the net. 

Only one goal was scored in the first period across Tampa’s last four games, a similar trend to what we’ve seen from the Avs. Goals won’t come easily in the final, particularly in the first 8:59 of Game 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche: Lightning First to Three Goals +160

It’s a delicate balance between rest and rust, and the Avalanche are teetering towards the latter. That puts them at a disadvantage in the race to three goals, leaving an edge in backing the Lightning at +160.

As noted, finding a way to beat Vasilevskiy is a big ask. The reigning Conn Smythe winner is a stalwart in the net, limiting his opponents to two or fewer goals in nine of his previous 11 games. Although the Avalanche have had some luck finding the back of the net, they have yet to encounter a goalie like Vasilevskiy. 

The Lightning haven’t enjoyed as much success offensively, putting together a cumulative 9.4% shooting percentage compared to the Avs’ 11.4% mark and 3.1 goals per game to 4.1. Still, they’ve been more productive than the Avalanche, averaging 10.9 high-danger chances per game, better than the 10.4 from Colorado. 

Tampa is also short of their regular season benchmarks, implying they remain progression candidates as the season races to a conclusion. The Bolts averaged 3.5 goals per game in the regular season, scoring 11.2% of shots and coming up short of both marks in the postseason. Increased output should come with sustained production, especially against the Avs’ inferior goaltending.

In reconciling the available data, the Lightning are better positioned for offensive success in the final. Moreover, Tampa has won the race to three goals in three of their past four, failing to hit the threshold once. At +160, it’s a worthy investment that they are the first to score three in the series opener.