Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Lightning are looking to make history by becoming just the third NHL team to win three consecutive Stanley Cups. Don’t stop me. That’s pretty damn special and deserved repeating. Remember, they were barely favored to win their first-round matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Let’s take a look at the pelts on their wall so far. NHL’s leading goal scorer and back-to-back Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Auston Matthews. Check. The NHL’s best regular-season team, Presidents’ Trophy winner Florida Panthers. Check. The NHL’s top goaltender and expected Vezina Trophy winner, Igor Shesterkin. Check.
Are you not entertained?
As impressive as their run has been, the Avalanche will present Tampa’s most formidable challenge this postseason. Colorado features Cale Makar, arguably the NHL’s top defenseman, as well as the one-two scoring punch of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, whom the oddsmakers have made the two most likely players to lead the Stanley Cup Finals in goals.
Of course, Andrei Vasilevskiy will have something to say about that. That matchup alone makes tonight a must-watch.
Conn Smythe Trophy: Steven Stamkos +1400
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has had a hard time staying healthy throughout his career, and that’s impacted his competitiveness. However, we see an elite-level play from the two-time Rocket Richard-winner, and if Tampa claims their third straight Stanley Cup, some of the credit will be handed to their captain.
Stammer leads the Bolts with an actual goals-for rating of 68.2%, as he’s been on the ice for a team-best 30 goals. Although exceeding his expected projection, the first-line center is well-positioned to continue his onslaught. Stamkos starts 72.7% of his shifts in the attacking zone, getting 4:30 minutes of powerplay time per game.
More impressively, the former first overall selection leads the Lightning with a 13.4% on-ice shooting percentage. Tampa needs their captain to be their best player, and so far, Stamkos has delivered.
Remember, like most awards, the media vote on this; Stamkos claiming his third straight Stanley Cup is the narrative that could carry the most weight after years of disappointment.
Additional Picks: Victor Hedman +2000 | Darcy Kuemper +4000
Stanley Cup Finals Series Betting Insights
The Colorado Avalanche will look to stop the Tampa Bay Lightning’s quest for a three-peat, and they’re garnering a lot of interest ahead of the Stanley Cup Finals…
The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning opened with odds of +750 to win for a third consecutive time, while the Avalanche owned the highest opening odds at +600…
The Avs enter the series as -190 favorites, while the Lightning are +155 at BetMGM… There’s probably value at that price, but it’s also hard to argue against Colorado’s postseason dominance. It’s rare for an NHL team to be favored from start to finish like the Avalanche have, making them the most significant liability…
“The Avalanche are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup and have been a big problem from a liability perspective since BetMGM posted opening odds. The sportsbook is cheering for the Lightning to lift the Cup.” – Christian Cipollini, Sports Trader, BetMGM
Heading into the Stanley Cup Finals, the Avalanche own more than double the number of tickets at 25.9%, compared to 11% for the Lightning… The handle percentages tell a similar story, with the Avalanche seeing 32.7% of the money, with just 14.9% generated from the back-to-back champs…
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