The Stanley Cup Finals are about to begin, and the NHL betting lines have been sizzling ever since the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens punched their tickets to the finals late last week.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning -- playing in a Florida city dealing with un-hockey-like 90-degree June temperatures -- open up as heavy favorites in the NHL lines. Considered the nouveau riche of hockey after four appearances in the finals since 2004, the Lightning (-275) are favored over the Canadiens (+220) and commanded 12.4% of the betting handle coming into the postseason.
The Canadiens -- the all-time top winners of the Stanley Cup with 24 titles in 33 appearances -- haven’t won a Cup since 1993, and this is their first finals appearance since. They held 6.4% of the handle prior to the playoffs and opened the lines at +5000 to win it all.
What about the Conn Smythe Trophy? Who will get the honor of claiming what is the postseason’s MVP honor for the NHL? Could it be last year’s winner -- Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman (+2500)? Bettors don’t seem to think so as he has commanded only 0.4% of the betting handle ahead of the Stanley Cup.
Instead, Hedman’s teammates Andrei Vasilevskiy (+125), Nikita Kucherov (+250), and Brayden Point (+275) lead the way in the NHL odds, along with Montreal’s Carey Price (+175). Point has 6.9% of the betting handle, followed by Vasilevskiy (5.0%), Kucherov (4.0%), and Price (4.0%). Nobody else is above 1.0%.
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Brian McLaughlin is a content writer for BetMGM and has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All America teams, and covered FCS college football for HERO Sports. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.