Stanley Cup Finals Betting Preview: Lightning Favored Over Canadiens

The 2020-21 NHL Stanley Cup Finals begin on Monday night as the postseason is finally down to two teams.

Nobody expected the Montreal Canadiens to make it this far, but here they are. After being underestimated in each of their three previous series, the Canadiens have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993. Considering how long ago that was and just how hungry the team’s fans are for a championship, look for Montreal to try for another upset.

However, that’ll be easier said than done as they’ll be facing an immovable object in the form of the defending Stanley Cup Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite all the controversy around them, the Lightning have been one of the most dominant teams that the league has seen in a long time and it’s going to take a lot to prevent them from becoming back-to-back champions.

As always, the finals attract sports bettors who like to place wagers to add excitement to the championship round. Considering how there’s a lot to know about betting on the Stanley Cup Finals, this guide aims to make things more digestible.

2020-21 Stanley Cup Finals Schedule

  • Game 1: Monday, June 28: MTL @ TB, 8 p.m. EST on NBCSN, CBC, SN
  • Game 2: Wednesday, June 30: MTL @ TB, 8 p.m. EST on NBCSN, CBC, SN
  • Game 3: Friday, July 2: TB @ MTL, 8 p.m. EST on NBCSN, CBC, SN
  • Game 4: Monday, July 5: TB @MTL, 8 p.m. on NBCSN, CBC, SN
  • *Game 5: Wednesday, July 7: MTL @ TB, 8 p.m. on NBCSN, CBC, SN
  • *Game 6: Friday, July 9: TB @ MTL, 8 p.m. on NBCSN, CBC, SN
  • *Game 7: Sunday, July 11: MTL @ TB, 7 p.m. on NBCSN, CBC, SN

*If game is necessary.

Team Stats

  • Playoff record: Canadiens (12-5) vs Lightning (12-6)
  • Goals for: Canadiens — 43, Lightning — 58
  • Goals against: Canadiens — 37, Lightning — 37
  • Power play: Canadiens — 20.9%, Lightning — 37.7%
  • Penalty kill: Canadiens — 93.5%, Lightning — 83.0%

Stanley Cup Series Odds

BetOnline has released odds on the Stanley Cup Finals, specifically when it comes to which team has the better odds to win the series. The sportsbook is currently favoring the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row at -240 odds. Meanwhile, the Canadiens will be the underdogs of the series as their odds to win are set to +200. However, anything can change as the series continues and it’s not the first time that Montreal has been the underdog. Only time will tell if these odds change.

Stanley Cup Odds: Can the Lightning Win Again?

If the Lightning do win their second of back-to-back Stanley Cups, they’d become the first team to accomplish the task since the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in 2016 and 2017. Fortunately, Tampa Bay has the perfect roster to do it. Despite missing the entirety of the regular season on the injured reserve, it sure doesn’t look like it for Nikita Kucherov. He’s been the Lightning’s best player all postseason, leading the team with 27 points in 18 games. The team also has Brayden Point, who’s been a goal-scoring force. The 24-year-old leads Tampa Bay with 14 goals.

That’s not even to mention how the Lightning having Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman all hovering around point-per-game production. It’s just hard for opposing teams to keep up with Tampa Bay, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Canadiens can do that. They’ll have to solve Andrei Vasilevskiy first. The Lightning goaltender has incredible stats heading into the Stanley Cup Finals, averaging a .936 save percentage (SV%) and 1.99 goals against average (GAA) with 4 shutouts.

Canadiens Looking to Bring the Cup Back to Canada

The last time any Canadian NHL club won the Stanley Cup was in 1993 when the Canadiens were victorious. Now, they’ll look to bring the Cup back to north of the border.

Unlike the Lightning, the Canadiens don’t have that No. 1 superstar talent scoring all of their goals. They’ve gotten this far as a committee, with Tyler Toffoli leading the way with 5 goals and 14 points. He shares the team lead in goals with Nick Suzuki, Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, which goes to show that there isn’t that top scoring option. Still, it’s worked for Montreal this far and the team probably shouldn’t shake things up against Tampa Bay unless they’re forced to.

Another reason why the Canadiens have made it this far is because of defense and goaltending. For starters, Montreal has one of the best penalty kills of the playoffs, which currently sits at 93.5%. It’s easy to play that well when Carey Price is playing like one of the best goaltenders on the planet. A lot of people have doubted him over the years, wondering if he’s worth his $84 million contract. Considering how he has a .934 SV% and 2.02 GAA while stealing some wins along the way to his first Stanley Cup Finals appearance, Price has started living up to his contract. If he can backstop Montreal to a championship, he’ll be worth every single penny until it expires.

Devon Platana
Devon Platana

After graduating with a Masters degree in Journalism, Devon joined USGS to improve his sports writing skills. As a lifelong sports fan, one of Devon’s favorite things to do is analyze statistics across all sports.