The puck drops on Wednesday Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning begin a seven-game series for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Both teams are scalding hot; the Lightning have won four straight and 10 of their past 12 to reach the final, while the Avs have won 12 of 14 games this postseason. Here are some prop bets for Stanley Cup betting in Game 1:
Time of First Goal
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. I’m 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.
Lightning First to Three Goals
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 in this Stanley Cup Final prop bet 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.
NHL Odds at BetMGM
BetMGM is the premier online sportsbook for betting on NHL odds. And with live sports betting, there’s never a break in the action.
Throughout the season, you can view updated odds during games. Whether you’re watching a Chicago Blackhawks-Detroit Red Wings game from your couch, streaming a Nashville Predators-New York Rangers game on your phone, or checking scores from your phone, you can place live bets.